Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Conflict of Interest Policy

  • College Policies

This policy clarifies the types of situations that may create a "conflict of interest", so that such situations can be avoided. A conflict of interest is defined as a conflict between an employee's private interests and his/her responsibilities to the College. A conflict of interest exists when an employee's actions, activities, or decisions made on behalf of the College are influenced by some gain, or potential gain, to the employee.

Conflicts of Interest

The following are examples of situations that create, or may create, a conflict of interest:

Outside Employment/Participation with Other Organizations

A College employee who engages in other employment, either for compensation or without receiving payment, must assure such employment does not create a conflict of interest. Specifically:

  • Outside employment must not interfere with the efficient performan ce of the employee's duties for the College.

  • Outside employment must not negatively impact an employee's ability to make decisions and take actions in the best interest of the College.

  • Outside employment must not involve the performance of duties which the employee would typically perform as part of his/her regular duties with the College, unless the individual has received prior approval from his/her department manager or department chair.

  • Outside employment may not occur during regular or assigned working hours unless the employee has been properly excused from work by his/her department manager or chair.

  • An employee may not engage in outside employment during a paid or unpaid leave o f absence, including sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, and Family & Medical Leave, unless he/she has received prior approval from the Provost and Dean of the Faculty (for members of the faculty) or from the Director, Human Resources (for professional staff).

College employees are to promptly notify their department manager or department chair of any outside employment , either paid or unpaid. Employees are also to promptly notify their department manager or chair if being compensated by a non-profit or a for-profit organization or company as a consultant or independent contractor.

Additionally, an employee is to promptly notify the Provost and Dean of the Faculty (for members of the faculty) or the Director, Human Resources (for professional staff) if any of the following apply:

  • The employee is an executive officer, director, member of a governing body, partner, or owner of any non-profit or for-profit organization or company.

  • The employee has a financial interest in an organization or company with which the College is contemplating a transaction or business relationship or has a business relationship, assuming the employee is aware of the transaction or business relationship. This includes a financial interest in any organization or company that s erves as, or is being considered to serve as, a vendor, supplier, or contractor to the College.

If the College determines a conflict of interest exists, the employee will be required to take immediate action to satisfactorily resolve the conflict of inter est.

The College recognizes that participation with other organizations can be beneficial in terms of an individual’s personal and professional development. The above is not meant to discourage employees from participating with other non-profit organizations or engaging in other employment. It is understood that not all such participation or outside employment will result in a conflict of interest.

Accepting Personal Gifts, Gratuities, or Entertainment

Employees are expected to select vendors who will provide goods and services to the College based on objective criteria, in consideration of the College's best interests. All decisions pertaining to College business are to be made solely based on the interests of the College, not based on any gain or potential gain to any employee or an associate of an employee. In an effort to avoid conflicts of interest, College employees may not accept personal gifts of more than nominal value from vendors or potential vendors to the College. Specifically:

  • College employees may not accept any gift or gratuity from an individual, a vendor, a contractor, or other organization that provides goods or services to the College, or is being considered as a provider of goods or services, with a value in excess of $50.00.

  • College employees may not accept services or entertainment from vendors or potential vendors, other than acceptance of an occasional meal, tickets to a sporting or theater event, etc.

  • College employees may not solicit personal gifts, entertainment, or payment from a vendor, or potential vendor, regardless of the value of such gifts .

If a College employee has a personal or business relationship with a vendor or potential vendor to the College, and the employee is in a position to influence the selection of the vendor, the employee must promptly disclose the relationship to his/her depa rtment manager or chair.

The Associate Vice President for Finance and the Vice President for Finance are responsible for approving all contracts between the College and vendors and contractors.

Approving Changes to Salary or Benefits

It is the policy of the College that all changes to an employee's compensation and benefits must be approved in advance and in writing by: (1) the Senior Officer responsible for the employee’s department , (2) the Vice President for Finance, and (3) the President, and communicated in writing by the President. No manager, department chair, or College representative has the authority to establish pay levels, grant pay increases, or modify fringe benefits coverage for any applicant for employment or employee without first obtaining the required approvals.

Hiring/Supervising Family Members

When in a position to hire a College employee, or recommend an employment candidate for hire, decisions are to be made based on the needs of the College and the qualifications of the candidate. In order to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of an impropriety, any offer of employment to a family member of a current employee must be approved in advance by: (1) the Provost and Dean of the Faculty (for faculty appointments) or the Director, Human Resources (for pr ofessional staff appointments). College employees are not permitted to supervise, or be supervised by, a family member. If a member of the faculty or professional staff is in a position to supervise a family member, the College will take appropriate action, which may include transferring one individual at its discretion. For purposes of this policy, family members will generally include an employee's spouse or domestic partner, child, grandchild, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister, brother, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. If a College employee supervises a family member not specifically listed here, the College reserves the right to transfer one family member if it determines, in its sole discretion, that a conflict of interest exists.

Personal Relationships

In order to maintain a safe and respectful learning and working environment, faculty, professional staff, and students are expected to interact with each other in a professional manner. Romantic or sexual relationships between College employees and students, as well as supervisors and those they supervise, may negatively affect learning, department performance, and morale; create conflicts of interest; and may lead to claims of sexual harassment, abuse of power, or favoritism. Therefore, romantic or sexual relationships between College employees and students, and between supervisors and those they supervise, even when consensual are not permitted.

Political Contributions and Activities of the College

Although employees are free to support political organizations and candidates, the College, as a tax-exempt organization, does not provide financial support on behalf of employees to political organizations; does not endor se specific candidates; does not make campaign donations or engage in fundraising for a particular candidate; does not encourage individuals to support any particular candidate; and does not engage in other activities that might be beneficial or detrimental to any particular candidate. Please see the Business Expense Reimbursement policy for further details.

Releasing Confidential Information

Information considered confidential or proprietary, to which employees have access through the course of performing work on behalf of the College, may only be discussed and disclosed on a business "need - to - know" basis. Confidential business information is not to be shared with anyone who does not have a business relationship with the College, or with those within or outside the College who do not have a bona-fide business need-to-know the information. Confidential or proprietary information may not be shared for personal gain. Confidential information includes, but is not limited to:

  • Internal, unpublished College financial statements, projections, budgets, and financial reports.

  • Donor records, unpublished records of gifts/donations to the College, and prospect records.

  • Unpublished, personal information regarding College alumni.

  • Admission and financial aid applications and records, and confidential Admission reports and statistics.

  • Student academic records, transcripts, and disciplinary records; non-published individual demographic data.

  • Employee personnel records and individual salary data; confidential applicant information; non-published individual demographic data.

  • Student and employee medical records.

  • Computer passwords and access codes.

  • Other reports, documents, and information marked as confidential, or which one would reasonably conclude contain confidential information.

  • Other records and documents protected by federal, state, or local law.

The above should not be construed to limit employees' rights to discuss with others their terms and conditions of employment.

Notification Requirements

Members of the faculty and professional staff are required to promptly notify their department manager or department ch air of any conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest, as defined above, and to follow other procedures as outlined in this policy.

A conflict of interest may exist in situations other than those described above. When the College determines a conflict of interest exists, it reserves the right to take appropriate action to resolve the conflict. Violations of this policy may lead to corrective action, up to and including separation from employment.

Violations by faculty members will be handled per procedures outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Faculty and professional staff should see the “Standards of Conduct” policy for additional information regarding expected standards of conduct at the College.