Conflict of Interest
Office of Academic Personnel
Kansas State University
204 Anderson Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506


785-532-4392
785- 532-5039 fax
svaldovi@k-state.edu 

Case Scenarios- Case 3

Scenario A:

Dr. Chen is the top choice for an open department head position.  He is currently employed at an institution outside of Kansas.  Dr. Chen seeks to negotiate a position for his spouse as part of an employment package.  His spouse has a Ph.D. and is a researcher in Dr. Chen's primary field.  Dr. Chen seeks to have the spouse appointed within the department in which he will be the head.

Is this permissible given our nepotism policy? Is this a conflict of interest?

What to consider: Case 3, Scenario A

Yes, if appropriate arrangements can be reached to remove Dr. Chen's involvement in personnel decisions ( i.e., retention, promotion, tenure, salary, and annual evaluation) relative to his spouse.

The policy states, "Persons may be appointed to classified or unclassified positions without regard to family relationship to other members of faculty or unclassified professionals. If a person is in a position which requires an evaluation on a personnel decision such as those concerning appointment, retention, promotion, tenure, or salary of a close relative, such condition shall be deemed a conflict of interest and that person shall not participate in such a decision, and that person shall not participate in any group or body which is considering any such decision."

Scenario B:

Dr. Ramerio is a leading researcher in her field.  She oversees a laboratory with 5 full-time employees and three graduate assistants. She has been given funding to create a position for a laboratory manager. The responsibilities of the manager position include overseeing the budget, developing operating procedures, scheduling work, ordering supplies, and taking care of personnel matters. Dr. Ramerio would like to hire her husband in this position. To avoid issues of nepotism, she asked her colleague, who is also the assistant department head, to chair the search committee and to recommend the top candidate to the department head. The top candidate turns out to Dr. Ramerio's husband. Dr. Ramerio has no involvement with the search committee and does not interview any of the candidates. The department head approves the hiring of her husband. Again, to avoid violating the nepotism policy, the responsibility for evaluating and recommending salary increases for her husband is delegated to the assistant department head.

Is this permissible? Is this a conflict of interest?

What to consider: Case 3, Scenario B

The policy indicates employees cannot advocate for the hiring of their relative. Dr. Ramerio removed herself from the selection process to avoid being in the position of advocating the hiring of her husband.

The policy also states that if a person is in a position which requires an evaluation on a personnel decision such as those concerning appointment, retention, promotion, tenure, or salary of a close relative, such condition shall be deemed a conflict of interest. Issues that need to be resolved include: (1) can or should Dr. Ramerio relinquish her responsibilities to interview the candidates that will manage her lab and (2) if her husband is hired, is there someone else who could appropriately observe and evaluate his work performance?

Scenario C:

Professor Rich is a leading researcher in her field.  Over the summer break, she hires her son to help her in her lab and to broaden his own educational experiences.  He is temporary help with part-time hours and receives a minimal hourly wage.

Is this permissible? Is this a conflict of interest?

What to consider: Case 3, Scenario C

No, according to the policy, this is not permissible and would constitute a conflict of interest. Employees can not advocate for the hiring of a relative.