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Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest
Office of the Provost and
Senior Vice President
Kansas State University
108 Anderson Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506


Case Scenarios

Case 1

Professor Quinn is a scientist working in the field of chemical safety. His lab conducts basic and applied sciences and attracts a steady stream of extramural funds. In addition to research, his lab also conducts contract testing for private firms and government organizations. Professor Quinn uses his University benefit of consulting to work with chemical companies on a variety of chemical safety issues. The Xenon Company has recently contracted Professor Quinn for 10 days of consulting time for 2006. The company also has contract testing performed by Professor Quinn's laboratory.

What information would you need to determine whether the consulting relationship Professor Quinn has contracted with Xenon could present a real or perceived conflict of interest?

What to consider: Case 1

Case 2

Four professors in a common area of research have formed an LLC. This group performs contract research for companies, using the University's lab. Initially, the time spent by these professors doing contract work did not exceed 2 days a month. More recently, due to the increased number of contracts, the LLC has hired graduate students to assist with the work load.

Is there a potential for a conflict of interest or a conflict of time commitment?

What to consider: Case 2

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? 

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?

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

Case 4

Professor Smith arrives on campus at 7 AM, teaches two classes, and then leaves. He owns several apartment houses and prides himself on taking care of all repairs, from plumbing and electrical work to roofing and laying carpets. In addition, he mows the grass and keeps driveways and walks clear of snow. Since the total number of units runs to about 45, Professor Smith is kept busy most of the year.

In addition, Professor Smith rents apartments to his graduate students. Sometimes, when pressure connected with maintenance and repair work becomes too great, Professor Smith requests graduate students to help him with various projects.

Is this a conflict of interest or a conflict of time commitment?

What to consider: Case 4

Declaration of Conflict of Interest and Time Commitment Forms

In order to comply with federal regulations and Board of Regents (BOR) policy, Kansas State University (KSU) requires all unclassified faculty and staff with 100% time appointments to annually file Annual Declaration and Disclosure. Faculty and unclassified staff members who hold fractional appointments who have potential or possible conflicts of time or conflicts or interest are also required to file disclosure forms.

Submit the forms

Training on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Time Commitment (pdf)

Tutorials for Managers (pdf)