Conflict of Interest — Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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1. Can Departments require more restrictive rules on COI than those provided by the UCI policy?
·         No, if these stricter departmental rules contravene other UC/UCI policies such as removing the right of a faculty member to vote or participate in departmental activities.
2. Does a COI of a faculty member automatically transmit to their near relative who is also a university employee (e.g. spouse who is also a faculty member)?
No, each instance should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
3. Does being on the same grant/proposal automatically place two individuals in conflict of interest?
No, each instance should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
4. Faculty members in their roles as chair, dean, PI of a grant, or center director, often make decisions on compensation for other faculty members, such as stipend or summer salary payment for job activities. Are these individuals (the awarder and awardee) automatically in conflict?
No, this should not be considered in financial conflict of interest since the distribution of funds is governed by standard university procedures and oversight.
5. Can a faculty member ask that another faculty member be recused from making decisions on their academic personnel case?
It is not the candidate’s right to exclude eligible faculty or faculty administrators (chair, dean) from participation in this candidate’s review. However, if the candidate believes there is a potential conflict of interest with a faculty administrator, the candidate may submit the rationale or evidence supporting this belief to the Vice Provost, Academic Personnel (VPAP). The VPAP will review the material and then discuss the potential for conflict and management of the conflict with the faculty administrators. If the potentially conflicted faculty administrator elects to recuse themselves from review of the candidate in their administrative role, they can still participate and vote at the Department level if they so choose. The VPAP will assign a surrogate faculty administrator in consultation with a non-conflicted faculty administrator. If the putatively conflicted faculty administrator opts not to recuse from the process, and the candidate believes the continued participation of the said faculty administrator has abridged their rights as laid out by the provisions of Senate Bylaw 335, the candidate retains the right to file a grievance with the Committee on Privilege and Tenure following the determination of the candidate’s personnel case.
6. Can a faculty member ask that a Council on Academic Personnel (CAP) member be recused from the review of their file?
If a faculty member has evidence of a potential conflict of interests, they may ask for a CAP member to be recused from review of their file by submitting a request to the VPAP, who will provide this information to the Chair of CAP (or Vice Chair if request involves the Chair). This request will be reviewed and handled according to CAP’s COI policy: https://cpb-us-e2.wpmucdn.com/sites.uci.edu/dist/e/1492/files/2014/02/Recusal-Policy-CAP.pdf.
7. If a faculty member is serving as a member or chair of a review or search committee involving a Chair/Dean/Provost, would the Chair/Dean/Provost be required to recuse themselves from participating in the review of the faculty member?
No, the faculty member and higher administrator is part of normal university service that is governed by well documented procedures so this would not require an automatic recusal.
8. Can a faculty member on the search committee, whose former advisee is among the finalists, participate in the decision making?
Former advisors should not take part in the search committee deliberations at the finalist level if their former students are among the finalists. Former advisors can vote on all candidates for a recruitment at the level of the department vote (but they may elect to recuse if they believe this protects the integrity of the selection process). AP advises to keep the department vote non-public if any faculty members’ former advisees are finalists.
9. In an academic personnel review, can a former graduate or postdoctoral advisor or recent or current collaborator serve on the committee that drafts the department letter?
Yes, but they should not be lead writers who sign the letter.
10. When is it appropriate for an individual to recuse themselves from discussion in an academic personnel review at the department level?
As per APM 520, university faculty or staff shall not participate in the processes of review and decision-making on any matter concerning appointment, promotion, salary, retention, or termination of a near relative. Faculty member may also recuse if they believe that their recusal is necessary to preserve the integrity of the review process.

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