Conflict of Commitment Policy

Guidelines on Outside Activities Policy – February 22, 1984, revised April 2010.

It is both appropriate and desirable that many Tufts faculty members be involved in professional and other outside activities, in the practice of their profession, in consulting, guest lecturing at other institutions, and serving in professional and community organizations. Such activities extend the faculty member’s professional competence, enrich the teaching he or she can provide at Tufts, and contribute to the advancement of the profession.

Occasionally, however, questions arise about the extent of such involvement or the appropriateness of certain activities. The guidelines in this document are provided to assist individual faculty members and senior academic administrators in identifying (and, if possible, avoiding) possible problems in this area.

The guidelines apply to full-time faculty members and pertain to the period of their University contracts (nine-month, twelve-month, or other). So long as part-time faculty members fulfill their obligations to the University, the way in which they spend the balance of their time (and the way in which faculty members on less-than-full-year contracts spend their non-contract time) is not a proper concern of the University, so long as those activities do not conflict with their University obligations and do not reflect unfavorably on the University.

The guidelines are general in nature and are intended to apply to the entire University. Individual schools may wish to develop more specific guidelines to take into account their particular circumstances of their school or profession. School deans may wish to form advisory committees to develop or interpret guidelines as required. Where necessary, questions may be referred to the Provost/Academic Vice-President.

  1. The principal professional commitment of full-time faculty members is to the University. It is recognized that University-related educational, research, service and related activities are such that it is both unfeasible and undesirable to attempt to establish narrow time and location regulations on how faculty members fulfill these responsibilities.

  2. The University encourages outside professional activity on the part of faculty members when it furthers their professional development, and especially when it enhances their teaching and research capabilities. It is expected, however, that faculty members will arrange any external activities they may engage in so as not to interfere with their primary commitment.

  3. Faculty members must inform the dean of their school or college before engaging in any significant outside professional activity. Activities may be significant even though they involve comparatively little time. A single guest lecture or a one-time consulting visit would not normally be considered significant, but a lecture series or an on-going consulting relationship would be. Where there is a disagreement about the propriety of an activity, the dean and the faculty member involved shall make their best efforts to arrive at a resolution consistent with the mission of the school. The dean will make the final determination, however, given his or her ultimate responsibility to the university for the performance of the school.

  4. As a rule, faculty members should not take on substantial teaching or other commitments in another educational institution. Exceptions would include guest lecturing, participating in invited seminars, and similar activities.

  5. Faculty members should not engage in external activities that are not consistent with good professional practices; that impose restrictions on the freedom to publish University-based work; or that involve any significant use of University facilities, materials, services, personnel, or restricted University information without specific advance written permission from the University and, where needed, appropriate compensation.

  6. No more than 20% of one’s total professional effort during the normal working hours of a five-day week may be directed to the outside work. The intent of this guideline is to avoid situations where the time or creative energy a faculty member devotes to extramural activities compromises the amount or quality of his or her participation in the instructional, scholarly, or administrative work of the university.

The following examples are given for the guidance of all concerned.

Activities consistent with guidelines that do not require advance permission from the dean:

  • Acceptance of royalties for published scholarly works or other writings, or of honoraria for commissioned papers and occasional lectures;

  • Service on committees or boards of organizations, public or private, which does not conflict with University obligations. The payment of honoraria or reimbursement of expenses in these cases should not be an issue;

  • Occasional consulting with outside organizations or clients, provided that it does not conflict with his or her obligations to the University or the practice or policy restrictions of the school or college involved.

Activities which need to be examined on a case-by-case basis and approved in advance by the school dean:

  • Service as a principal consultant or director of an outside concern;

  • Service as a consultant to a firm which in turn sponsors the faculty member’s work, or related work at the University;

  • Relationships that might enable (or appear to enable) the faculty member to influence the University’s dealings with an outside organization in ways leading to personal gain or other conflicts of interest;

  • Activities that appear to conflict with University policies governing research funded by an external agency and with funds administered by the University;

  • Activities which directly or indirectly involve students in anything other than their normal academic pursuits.

Activities which are probably unacceptable:

  • Service involving executive responsibility for an outside concern working in areas related to the faculty member’s professional activities;

  • Situations where a research or service activity that could and ordinarily would be carried on within the University is conducted elsewhere to the disadvantage of the University and its legitimate interests.