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912 Conflict of Interest

Authority: Approved by the Board of Trustees
Last updated on: February 16, 2024

As stewards of public funds dedicated to maintaining an environment of learning and discovery in a professional atmosphere based on mutual respect and trust, the employees of ISU shall conduct their work consistent with the highest legal, ethical and moral standards. ISU employees should avoid apparent or actual conflicts of interest, favoritism, or bias of a financial or personal nature that may arise in the employment or educational context. Conflicts of interest can arise: (1) when an individual may have a financial interest in ISU programs, activities, or expenditures (2) when an individual’s external activities substantially interfere with or detract from their assigned responsibilities to ISU, or (3) when an individual’s personal interests (e.g., family or personal relationships) could compromise their judgment, decisions, or actions in the workplace. The standards set forth below establish ISU policy on conflicts of interest in a manner that is consistent with, but in addition to, the minimum requirements of Indiana law.


912.1 Financial Conflicts of Interest

Indiana law provides that board members and employees of ISU, as public servants, must disclose certain potential financial conflicts of a interest to the ISU Board of Trustees in writing. The disclosure and approval should be forthcoming before any transaction takes place. Failure to disclose these financial conflicts of interest is considered a felony under Indiana law. The scope and application of Indiana law on this subject is addressed in detail at Indiana Code Section 35-44.1-1-4.

912.1.1 Definition of Pecuniary Interest. Indiana law defines “pecuniary interest” as “an interest in a contract or purchase if the contract or purchase will result or is intended to result in an ascertainable increase in the income or net worth” of the public servant or a dependent of the public servant. Generally, however, small-dollar financial interests are not subject to Indiana conflicts laws.  Specifically, Indiana law states that conflicts are not prohibited if the "public servant's interest in the contract or purchase and all other contracts and purchases made by the governmental entity during the twelve (12) months before the date of the contract or purchase was two hundred fifty dollars ($250) or less."

912.1.2 Procedure for Disclosure. Employees should provide disclosures to the ISU Office to the General Counsel in a timely manner and before final action on the contract or purchase. The General Counsel’s Office shall be responsible for providing information to the ISU community on financial conflict of interest requirements, maintenance of records, and submission of disclosures as required by Indiana law.

912.1.3 Unit Conflict of Interest Policies. Certain units, such as the Financial Aid Office and the Purchasing Office, may institute additional restrictions related to financial conflicts of interest.

912.1.4 Conflict of Interest in Research. The Chief Research Officer is responsible for developing policies to govern financial conflicts of interest in relationship to research or projects funded in whole or in part by external sponsors and in accordance with federal or state regulations.

912.1.5 Duty to Modify. When an actual, perceived, or potential financial conflict of interest arises and is disclosed by the employee in accordance with Section 912.1.2, the employee and the appropriate administrative unit head(s) have a mutual responsibility to address and determine whether a resolution or protective measure can be established that would remove or mitigate the conflict or potential conflict of interest and that would protect the employee’s ability to fulfill their assigned responsibilities and exercise appropriate judgment in the workplace, in accordance with the Policy 912 and Indiana law. If such a resolution can be reached, then the employee and the appropriate administrative unit head(s) will negotiate that resolution. Such negotiations may require assistance from the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of Human Resources, or the Office of Academic Affairs.

912.1.5.1 Disagreements. If a mutual resolution cannot be reached and the appropriate administrative unit head(s) believe a conflict of interest persists, the matter may be referred for disciplinary action as described in 146.13 Faculty Discipline and Dismissal Proceedings or 562.1 Discipline and Termination.

912.1.6 Failure to Disclose. Employees who fail to disclose a financial conflict of interest as required by this policy may be subject to corrective action as described in 350. Deficient Performance or to disciplinary action as described in 146.13 Faculty Discipline and Dismissal Proceedings or 562.1 Discipline and Termination.


912.2 Conflicts Related to External Activities

912.2.1 Exempt Staff

912.2.2 Non-exempt Staff

912.2.3 Regular and Full-Time Faculty External Activities
Regular and full-time faculty are expected to regularly report any external activities that could reasonably be perceived to create a potential conflict of interest. Common examples include teaching courses for other institutions of higher education; external employment or substantial service activities; running for or holding an elected office; or provision of professional services or consulting activities. Non-exempt staff and part-time faculty are free to engage in any outside activity they wish subject to their obligations to the University.

912.2.3.1 Procedure for Disclosure. Faculty shall report external activities according to the mechanism and timeline established by the office of Academic Affairs.

912. Failure to Disclose. Faculty who fail to disclose external activities may be subject to corrective action as described in 350. Deficient Performance and 146.13 Faculty Discipline and Dismissal.

912.2.3.2 Activities

912. Prohibited Activities.

912. Full-time (or its Equivalent) Outside Work. Faculty are prohibited from doing any work for another employer that is, or is the equivalent of, full-time employment. is prohibited.

912. Advising, Administering, or Consulting For a Direct Competitor. Substantive contributions to developing or administering academic programs that directly compete with Indiana State University are considered a conflict of interest and are prohibited.

912. Allowed Activities.

912. Actions Necessary for Licensure/Accreditation. Except where prohibited (912., any activity that is necessary for licensure/accreditation is allowed when conducted consistent with that requirement.

912. Actions that Enhance the Reputation of the University. Except where prohibited (912., actions such as authoring, consulting, performing, practicing, or engaging in entrepreneurial activity is allowed when conducted consistent with teaching, scholarship and service interests of academia.

912. Reviewable Activities. Any activities falling between those prohibited (912. and those allowed (912. will be allowed until such time that there is evidence that the activity prevents the faculty member from performing the duties described in Section 310 or until a question arises concerning a potential conflict of interest.

912.2.3.3 Procedures for Review. When a faculty member’s activity and/or performance are called into question, the Procedures for Reviewing Outside Activities document will be used to determine the recommendation to the Provost.

912.3 Personal Relationships

Employees may not directly supervise individuals with whom they have a familial relationship or an intimate relationship. If an employee has indirect or tangential supervisory authority over a family member or intimate partner, the employee is responsible for disclosing the information to the immediate supervisor of the area. The immediate supervisor is responsible for identifying a plan for oversight to ensure fair and equitable supervision.

912.3.1 Definitions

912.3.1.1 Definition of Familial Relationship. For purposes of this policy - whether by birth, adoption, or marriage - a familial relationship is established when the supervisor or academic evaluator is a parent, grandparent, spouse, child, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, nephew, or niece of the employee or student.

912.3.1.2 Definition of Intimate Relationship. For purposes of this policy, an intimate relationship is defined as one in which two individuals are involved in a sexual, physically intimate, or romantic relationship. This includes domestic partners and spouses.

912.3.1.3 Definition of Supervisory Relationship. For purposes of this policy, a supervisory relationship is defined as one in which one ISU employee (including administrators, faculty, instructors, and staff) has actual or perceived power or control over elements of the other’s employment.

912.3.1.4 Definition of Academic or Evaluative Relationship. For purposes of this policy, and academic or evaluative relationship is defined as one in which a professor, instructor, or other staff member has authority or responsibility to undertake or contribute to evaluating, grading, or advising a student, or where a professor, instructor, or other staff member otherwise has actual or perceived power or control over elements of a student’s academic performance or success.

912.3.2 Personal Relationship Regulations

912.3.2.1 The Employment Context. Where two employees have a current or preexisting supervisory relationship, and where an intimate or familial relationship develops between them, they each must promptly disclose the intimate or familial relationship, and steps will be taken promptly to sever or modify the supervisory relationship. Similarly, where two employees have a preexisting intimate or familial relationship, and where one assumes a supervisory relationship over the other, they each must promptly disclose the intimate or familial relationship, and steps will be taken promptly to sever or modify the supervisory relationship. Intimate and familial relationships between ISU employees are not prohibited where no workplace supervisory relationship exists between them.

912.3.2.2 The Academic Context. Where a current or preexisting academic or evaluative relationship exists, an intimate or familial relationship is prohibited, for so long as the academic or evaluative relationship continues. Where a current or preexisting intimate or familial relationship exists, and an academic or evaluative relationship arises, the faculty or staff member must promptly disclose the intimate relationship, and steps will be taken promptly to sever or modify the academic or evaluative relationship.

912.3.3 Procedure for Disclosure.    Relationship disclosures must be made to the relevant department or unit head or to the Office of Human Resources.  For purposes of this section, “promptly” means at the earliest opportunity, typically within two weeks, and prior to the beginning of the instructional, evaluative, advisory, or supervisory authority, or other opportunity to influence the employment or educational status of the student or subordinate employee.

912.3.4 Duty to Modify. Upon disclosure of a personal conflict of interest, the relevant department or unit head or the Office of Human Resources will make appropriate modifications to supervisory or evaluative responsibilities to remove or substantially mitigate a conflict or a potential conflict of interest or abuse of power, and to ensure unbiased evaluation or supervision of the subordinate employee or student. Such arrangements should take into account the interests of the University, the parties to the relationship, and others actually or potentially affected. Appropriate modifications may include removal of the supervisory or evaluative relationship. The department or unit head must notify the relevant Dean, Associate Vice President or Vice President of the existence of the personal conflict of interest and the modifications made. Each Vice President shall develop guidelines clarifying the process for that division. The unit or department head will also notify the Office of Human Resources.

912.3.5 Violations. Individuals found in violation of this policy by (1) failing to disclose a familial or intimate relationship or (2) failing to appropriately modify supervisory or evaluative responsibilities will be subject to employee discipline under staff or faculty discipline policies.

912.3.6 Policy Limitations. Nothing in this policy shall be construed as modifying an employee’s reporting obligation under other policies including but not limited to Policy 923 Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment.

Related Information

Policy Administrator:
Office of the General Counsel
Policy Contact:
Office of the General Counsel
Parsons Hall 223
(812) 237-4141
Procedures and Standards:
Related Policies and Information:
905  Whistleblower Protection
501  Faculty and Staff Principles of Conduct
Policy History:
Policy 912 was approved by the Indiana State University Board of Trustees at the June 11, 2015 board meeting and added to the University Handbook (Section 630.17 Conflict of Interest and Policy 502 Nepotism were removed at that time). Sections 912.3.3 and 912.3.4 were modified by the Board of Trustees on August 27, 2015. On September 15, 2021, minor changes were made to Policy 912 Conflict of Interest per Policy 100.3: Policies subject to Change at Sole Discretion of Trustees.. Section 912.1 was modified to update pronouns and added link for form. On February 16, 2024, modifications to Policy 912 were approved by the ISU Board of Trustees.