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  • Related Documents:  Conflict of Interest Procedure
  • Approval Dates:  March 2003, April 2003, Updated May 2008
  • Approved by:  Board of Governors
  • Jurisdiction:  Provost and Vice President Academic; Vice President, Administration and Finance; Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs; Human Resources

 

Preamble

The primary interest of the University is its mission of teaching, scholarly, research and creative activity, and service to the community.  Employees of the University have an obligation to carry out their duties and responsibilities in the best interest of the University, i.e. in support of its mission, and within the provisions of collective agreements, policies and other contractual obligations.

This policy references other University policies, and collective agreement provisions.  These policies or provisions may change from time to time.  Where there is a conflict between the information contained in this policy and a policy or collective agreement provision, the actual policy or collective agreement provision is the authoritative source for the information.

Purpose

The purposes of this policy are:

•        to promote standards of conduct that support the mission of the University;

•        to assist employees to recognize possible and/or perceived conflict of interest situations so that they can, in good faith, take the initiative to disclose, manage and resolve such situations;

•        to provide processes and mechanisms for the University to deal with actual or potential conflicts of interest.

Principles

On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with pursuing personal interests.  For some employees, such as faculty members, it is encouraged as a means of professional development.  A conflict of interest occurs when personal interests interfere with the independent judgement required by employees in order to perform their duties and responsibilities in the interest of the University.

All employees have a legal duty of faithfulness and honesty to the University.  A breach of this policy, or related policies, has the effect of eroding the trust and confidence in the integrity of the University by the public, as well as the confidence and trust necessary between the University and its employees.  Sanctions for employees will be applied following the principles of progressive discipline, recognizing that certain serious breaches may require a greater response.

Faculty members, researchers, senior administrators and the executive have the ability to influence decisions which could affect the value of their investments.  Individuals in these positions have a higher responsibility to avoid situations that would constitute a conflict of interest, or have the appearance of a conflict of interest.  Therefore, they must be held to a higher standard of conduct, and sanctions for a breach of conflict of interest must discourage members of this group of individuals from pursuing their own interests at the expense of the University.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to impinge upon the academic freedom provisions specified in University collective agreements.

Scope

This policy applies to all employees of Ryerson University, including faculty, instructors, academic and administrative support staff, research personnel, academic assistants, supervisors, managers, academic administrators and senior administrators and the executive.  Officers of the University are covered by provisions within the Board By-Laws dealing with gifts/hospitality.

This policy applies to all situations where an employee’s personal interests appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties.

Definitions

For the purposes of this policy the following definitions apply:

Conflict of Interest: A conflict of interest exists when an employee has a personal interest, or incurs an obligation, in a business transaction or professional activity, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties and responsibilities in the best interest of the University, or otherwise affects the integrity and confidence in the University, or the appearance of the above.

Personal Interest: Having a personal interest in a business transaction or professional activity may include, but is not limited to, a financial, family or managerial/directing interest, or holding stocks or other forms of equity or debt.

Manager: Manager refers to an individual who has full supervisory responsibility for an employee.  This may include executives, chairs, directors, deans and supervisors, as applicable.

Department: Department includes work unit, school or division, as applicable, unless referring to a particular department’s role.

Roles and Responsibilities

Employees

1.     Recognize possible conflict of interest situations and bring them to the attention of their manager;

2.     Establish, together with their manager, agreements concerning the monitoring and management of conflict of interest situations.

Managers

1.     Investigate and evaluate situations that appear to create a conflict of interest for employees;

2.     Determine whether to approve or prohibit the activity in question;

3.     Establish, together with employees and any other appropriate parties, agreements concerning the monitoring and management of conflict of interest situations.

Manager, Purchasing and Payment Services

1.     Review conflict of interest situations related to the purchase of equipment, supplies or services;

2.     Determine, together with manager, whether to approve or prohibit the activity in question;

3.     Assist managers and employees to develop agreements concerning the monitoring and management of conflict of interest situations.

Director, Office of Research Services

1.     Review conflict of interest situations related to SRC activities with managers;

2.     Determine together with managers, whether to approve or prohibit the activity in question;

3.     Assist managers and employees to develop agreements concerning the monitoring and management of conflict of interest situations.

Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs

1.     Review conflict of interest situations involving faculty and instructors that cannot be resolved at other levels;

2.     Provide advice, policy interpretation and recommendations concerning actual or potential conflict of interest situations;

3.     Assist administrators, faculty and instructors to develop agreements concerning the monitoring and management of conflict of interest situations.

Human Resources

1.     Review conflict of interest situations involving faculty, instructors, academic and administrative support staff, research personnel, academic assistants, managers and supervisors, and senior administrators and the executive;

2.     Provide advice, policy interpretation and recommendations concerning actual or potential conflict of interest situations;

3.     Assist managers and employees to develop agreements concerning the monitoring and management of conflict of interest situations;

4.     Revise, amend and update the Conflict of Interest policy, as required.

Provost and Vice President Academic

1.     Determine whether to approve or prohibit an activity that creates, or has the appearance of, a conflict of interest, when agreement cannot be reached at other levels;

2.     Determine what mechanisms are required to monitor and manage conflict of interest situations when agreement cannot be reached at other levels.

Vice President, Administration and Finance

1.     Determine whether to approve or prohibit an activity that creates, or has the appearance of, a conflict of interest, when agreement cannot be reached at other levels;

2.     Determine what mechanisms are required to monitor and manage conflict of interest situations when agreement cannot be reached at other levels.

Policy

No employee of the University shall engage in any activity which creates for that individual a conflict of interest, as defined by this policy, unless approval has been provided by the person with the authority to grant such approval.  Once appropriate approval of an activity has been provided, the activity will no longer be considered a conflict of interest.  Required approvals are outlined in the accompanying section on procedures.

Examples

The following examples are provided, grouped under general headings, in order to illustrate situations that are usually considered to create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.  However, this is not an exhaustive list.

Interests for Personal Gain

1.     Entering into a research contract with a company in which the employee, a member of his/her immediate family, or an individual with whom the employee has a close personal relationship, has a personal interest.

2.     Directing University or government sponsored research to serve the research or development needs of a private firm in which the employee has a personal interest.

3.     Purchasing or influencing the purchase of equipment or material for the University from a company in which the employee, a member of his/her immediate family, or an individual with whom the employee has a close personal relationship, has a personal interest.

4.     Accepting significant gifts or special favours for personal gain from private organizations with which the University does business.

5.     Entering into a licensing agreement for the development of intellectual property, generated as a result of University research, with a company in which the employee has a personal interest, in Contravention of the University’s Patent Policy Statement.

6.     Presenting a work as one’s own while failing to credit work of others as required by existing University policies.

7.     Receiving payment, from an outside source, for work that is part of the employee’s duties and responsibilities.

8.     Selection of textbooks or other instructional aids for a course that is based on a faculty member’s personal interests, in contravention of existing University policy (Textual Materials and Declarations of Interest in Their Adoption).

Inappropriate Use of University Students, Personnel, Resources or Assets

1.     Using students or staff, on University time, to carry out work for a company in which the employee has a personal interest.

2.     Unauthorized or non-reimbursed use of University resources or facilities to benefit a private concern in which the employee has a personal interest.

Inappropriate Use of Information

1.     Using for personal gain, or other unauthorized purposes, privileged information acquired as a result of the employee’s University-supported activities; such information might include knowledge of forthcoming developments regarding contractor or sub-contractor selection, bulk purchases, etc.

2.     Unreasonably delaying publication of research results or premature announcement of research results to secure personal gain in contravention of the policy on Confidentiality of Research Results.

3.     Disclosing information or technology that is the property of the University without appropriate prior authorization and/or in contravention of the University’s guidelines on Freedom of Information Guidelines and Personal Information Protection Guidelines.

Conflict of Commitment

1.     Undertaking external consulting, professional or other activities which, by virtue of their time commitment, prevent the employee from fulfilling his/her obligations to the University.

2.     Failure to disclose or obtain approval for outside professional activities as required by collective agreement provisions or University policies.

Personal Relationships

1.     Participating in the evaluation (academic or employee performance), promotion or hiring of a family member or an individual with whom the employee has, or recently had, a close personal relationship (of a sexual or non-sexual nature).

Note: Conflict of interest related to personal relationships refers to consensual relationships.  The University Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy deals with situations involving unwanted comments or conduct.

Jurisdiction

This policy, and its procedures, fall under the jurisdiction of the Provost and Vice President Academic and the Vice President, Administration and Finance.   The interpretation and application of this policy is a shared responsibility of the Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs (in cases involving faculty members or instructors) and Human Resources.

Policies Referenced or Related to Conflict of Interest Policy

Administrative Policies/Guidelines

  • Employment of Relatives
  • Financial Impropriety
  • Freedom of Information Guidelines
  • Personal Information Protection Guidelines
  • Discrimination and Harassment Prevention
  • Purchasing Policy
  • Booking of Institute Facilities for Non-Academic Events
  • Conduct of Vending

Academic Policies

  • Ryerson Policy on Research
  • Confidentiality of Research Results
  • Private Consulting
  • Ownership of Student Work in Research Projects
  • Patent Policy
  • Faculty and Staff Ownership of Research Results
  • Principles and Policy Respecting the Proper Conduct of Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity (SRC) and Guidelines for the Investigation and Disposition of Allegations of SRC Misconduct
  • Policy on Resale of Desk Copies Provided Free of Charge
  • Textual Material and Declaration of Interest in their Adoption