Conflict of Interest Policy

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Definition

An employee shall be considered to have a conflict of interest if:

  • A. There exists or potentially exists financial or other interests which impair the independent and unbiased judgments of such employee in the discharge of his/her responsibilities to the University including but not limited to being an officer, director, employee, member, partner, trustee, or significant investor or equity owner in an entity which does business with the University.
  • B. A related party to the employee has financial or other dealings with the University which might impair or might reasonably appear to impair the independent, unbiased judgment of the employee in the discharge of his/her responsibilities to the University.

    A related party is defined as a member of the family of the employee or a member of the household of the employee (which for purposes of this statement shall include spouses, parents, siblings, children, or any other person who resides in the same household as the employee), or any organization in which the employee (or a related party) is an officer, director, employee, member, partner, trustee, or significant investor or equity owner.
  • C. Any University resources (including time of University personnel, funds, facilities, the University's reputation or other assets) are diverted or appear to be diverted from their intended purpose, by virtue of outside activities, associations, or appointments of an employee.
  • D. An employee (or a related party) has an interest or plans to acquire an interest in investments in real estate or other property in which the University may have an interest.
  • E. An employee (or a related party) accepts gifts (more than $50), gratuities, or favors from any person or organization doing business with or seeking to do business with the University if, under the circumstances, it could reasonably be inferred that the judgment of the employee would be influenced in the discharge of his/her obligations to the University.

An employee has an obligation to disclose a conflict of interest or a potential conflict prior to becoming involved in an activity giving rise to a conflict of interest, or as soon as possible afterward. The employee shall prepare a written statement concerning the conflict of interest and submit it to the Director of Human Resources who will then forward the disclosure to the Vice President for Finance and Administration (hereinafter VPFA) for final decision .


Introduction

Objectivity and integrity are essential qualities for employees of any organization, and particularly for those who are in the service of the University. If the University is to carry out its mission with unquestioned credibility, its employees must maintain the highest levels of integrity and objectivity as they perform their duties. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to help employees of the University maintain these qualities and protect the financial resources of the University.

One of the primary responsibilities of the officers and administrators of the Saint Elizabeth University is to safeguard the tangible and intangible assets of the University. The University must ensure that its mission and objectives are not compromised by the actions of any officer or administrator (hereinafter referred to as employee/s).

The term "conflict of interest" cannot be comprehensively defined and it is subject to interpretation. It is recognized that some situations or issues involving ethical judgment may not always be free from ambiguity, particularly in the course of conducting financial transactions with an outside vendor. As a general rule, a person should not only consider the actual existence of a conflict of interest, but also, the appearance of impropriety and the interpretation by a third party who might have occasion to judge or review the transaction. To ensure appropriate conduct by all officers and administrators of the University, the highest standards of ethical conduct and behavior must be observed at all times in dealings with or on behalf of the University.


General Guidelines for the Avoidance of Conflicts:

Individuals employed by the University are charged with fidelity and integrity in the performance of their duties and functions. Their conduct as employees should be solely for the purpose, benefit, and interest of the University.

Employees should be aware that their positions within the University should not be used to gain favorable treatment or self-enhancement unless this occurs as an incidental result of actions intended to benefit the University, such as, an occasional business lunch or a gift of minimal value ($50 or less).

Employees should only have direct dealings with vendors of the University in accordance with the University's purchasing policies. Information known to be confidential or privileged that is acquired by an individual in the course of employment at the University should be used only for University purposes. Officers and administrators should remain cognizant that they are expected to devote their best efforts to the furtherance of the University's mission during the course of their employment.

Outside employment or personal commitments, if such activities would tend to impair an individual's effective fulfillment of his/her regular and/or professional responsibilities to the University, are not appropriate and should be avoided. Any full time staff member, who desires, anticipates or holds employment outside of the University must seek prior approval before engaging in any secondary employment. Employees are required to complete Part I and II of the Request for Approval of Secondary Employment Form located on the HR website. This form must be submitted to their supervisor for consideration and ultimately approved by their respective Vice President. Approved requests will be forwarded to the Office of Human Resources and will be maintained in the employee’s permanent personnel file.

Individuals are expected to seek advice from the divisional vice president before making commitments that may be potentially compromising to the University, its mission, or its interests.

In accordance with this policy, each employee shall disclose any actual or potential conflict of interest with the University to the Director of Human Resources, at the earliest possible time, and no later than within 10 business days of making any commitment which could lead to such a conflict.


Compliance:

The Office of Human Resources shall be responsible for monitoring compliance with this policy. All employees, but especially officers of the University, administrative department managers and other administrators who approve expenses or contracts for goods and services, both full-time and part-time are covered by this policy.

  1. The Office of Human Resources shall circulate a copy of this policy to all employees immediately, and annually thereafter. Within two weeks, each employee or applicant for employment shall sign a copy of the disclosure form accompanying this policy and return it to the Director of Human Resources. When the Office of Human Resources receives a disclosure form from an employee or applicant for a selected employee position indicating that the possibility of a conflict of interest exists, the disclosure form shall be forwarded to the VPFA or his/her designee for review. The VPFA shall then make a determination as to whether a conflict or potential conflict of interest exists. If a conflict or potential conflict is found, the VPFA shall either:
    • a. Advise the employee involved that he/she must refrain from or discontinue involvement in the circumstances giving rise to the conflict; or
    • b. Authorize the employee to proceed or continue with the activity in question, so long as appropriate safeguards specified by the VPFA are complied with in the conduct of the business transaction(s).

If an employee is not clear as to whether an actual or potential conflict of interest exists, the employee should bring the particular circumstances to the attention of the Director of Human Resources. If this occurs, the Director of Human Resources shall prepare a written record of the discussions and a recommendation as to whether a conflict or potential conflict of interest exists. All such documentation shall be forwarded to, and considered by, the VPFA.

The decision of the VPFA as to the existence of any conflict or potential conflict of interest shall be final. Failure to follow the VPFA's directives with respect to the elimination of a conflict of interest, or a potential conflict of interest, may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.