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ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY
Home : Administration & Operations : Compliance and Legal

Institutional Conflict of Interest

Effective Date: June 2006
Last Update: May 2013
Responsible University Officer:
  • University President
Policy Owner:
  • Director, Office of Institutional Compliance
Policy Contact:
CONSULTED WITH: University Senate

Printed on: . Please go to http://policy.umn.edu for the most current version of the Policy or related document.

POLICY STATEMENT

The University strives to ensure that its research, teaching, outreach and other activities are not compromised or perceived as biased by financial and business considerations.

Institutional conflicts of interest may arise when:

  • a University official with a business or significant financial interest in a business entity is in a position to take action on behalf of the University that may benefit or be perceived to benefit the business entity;
  • the University licenses an invention to a business entity and holds royalty or equity interests in the entity that may be affected by ongoing University research or other University activities;
  • a University vendor donates a gift to the University;
  • the University holds investments in a business entity that has a financial or business relationship with the University;
  • the University enters into a commercial transaction that compromises or appears to compromise the University’s research, teaching, or outreach mission activities, or its institutional reputation; or
  • the University has a business or significant financial interest in a business entity whose commercial interests may be affected by human subjects research conducted at the University.

University Officials

University officials must disclose their significant economic interests and affiliations, and those of their immediate family members (spouse, domestic partner, or dependent) upon their appointment and then annually thereafter, and identify how those interests may relate to their institutional responsibilities.

University Officials do not need to report the following:

  • compensation from the University, any governmental organization, investment or savings income, retirement or insurance benefits, or spousal maintenance;
  • investments in University retirement savings plans;
  • real estate which serves as the official's primary home;
  • credit card debt, personal household effects, vehicle leases or loans secured by vehicles, or mortgages/security agreements on a primary residence

Conflict of Interest Review

The Conflict of Interest (COI) Program and the Institutional Conflict Review Panel are responsible for reviewing the Financial Disclosures by University Officials (FDUOs). If an institutional conflict of interest is identified, the Institutional Conflict Review Panel will determine whether the conflict should be managed, reduced, or eliminated. (See Administrative Procedure: Reviewing and Managing Potential Institutional Conflicts of Interest).

University Interests and Related Transactions

The Conflict of Interest (COI) Program will review annually reports of University royalty earnings, gifts, purchases, and industry sponsored research projects to evaluate whether any institutional conflicts may arise from these interests. The COI Program will refer potential institutional conflicts of interest to the Institutional Conflict Review Panel for review and action. The University relies on the separation between its investment decisions and research activity to effectively manage any potential conflicts related to investment holdings.

The General Counsel will assess whether there is potential for an institutional conflict of interest prior to entering into substantive discussions or making an oral or written commitment regarding a commercial transaction that has a value greater than $2M, appears to have a significant impact on the University's mission or raises unusual questions of public interest or public policy.

The COI Program will refer those matters that meet the criteria for Board of Regents (Board) approval under Board of Regents Policy: Institutional Conflict of Interest, to the Board for review and action.

Human Subjects Research Involving More than Minimal Risk

When a unit within the University proposes to evaluate an invention in which the University has a financial interest under the terms of a University licensing agreement, and the evaluation is determined by the Institutional Review Board to involve "more than minimal" risk to human subjects, the COI staff and Executive Panel will gather information for consideration by the full Institutional Conflict Review Panel. In assessing and managing potential institutional conflicts of interest involving human subjects research, the Institutional Conflict Review Panel (ICRP) presumes that the research should not be conducted at the University unless there are compelling circumstances that justify proceeding with the research here despite the institutional conflict. (See Administrative Procedure: Reviewing and Managing Potential Institutional Conflicts of Interest: II. Special Situations)

REASON FOR POLICY

To implement Board of Regents Policy: Institutional Conflicts of Interest. This policy and procedure establish a process to manage, reduce, or eliminate institutional conflicts of interest. It is critical to the mission and reputation of the University to maintain the public's trust by ensuring that the University’s research, teaching, outreach, and other activities are not compromised or perceived as biased by financial and business considerations. In addition, because of its numerous and complex relationships with public and private entities, the University must be aware of any relationships involving financial gain that may compromise or appear to compromise its integrity.

PROCEDURES

FORMS/INSTRUCTIONS

APPENDICES

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

There is no FAQ associated with this policy.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS

Subject
Contact
Phone
Fax/Email
Primary Contact(s)
612-626-7852
Overall process and policy
Conflict of Interest Program
612-626-4727
Financial Disclosure for University Officials (FDUO) Questions
Conflict of Interest Program Assistant Program Director
612-626-4727

DEFINITIONS

Institutional Conflict of Interest
A situation in which the research, teaching, or outreach mission activities, or its institutional reputation may be compromised or appear to be compromised because of an external financial or business relationship held at the institutional level that may bring financial gain to the institution, any of its units, or the individuals covered by this policy.
Institutional Conflict Review Panel
A Panel established by the president or delegate to evaluate potential institutional conflict of interest situations, develop, review, and assist with enforcement of management plans, review reports of low-risk situations, review information relating to post-approval implementation of conflict resolution plans, and generally serve as a resource for the Conflict of Interest Program, the General Counsel, and other members of the University community. The Panel is comprised of:
  • Voting members
    • Four or more senior faculty from the Twin Cities campus
    • One or more senior faculty from a system campus
    • The University Auditor
    • The Director (or representative), Intercollegiate Athletics
    • One or more members from the community
  • Non-voting members
    • Director, Office of Institutional Compliance (OIC)
    • Representative from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC)
    • Other subject matter experts from key units (e.g., Sponsored Projects Administration, Office for Technology Commercialization, Human Research Protection Program, Research Integrity and Oversight, Controller's Office)
University Official
Persons holding the following positions, including those holding these positions in a temporary capacity:
  • chancellors and vice chancellors;
  • deans, associate deans and assistant deans;
  • division I athletic director;
  • general counsel;
  • president and president's chief of staff;
  • provosts, vice provosts, associate vice provosts and assistant vice provosts; and
  • senior vice presidents, vice presidents, associate vice presidents and assistant vice presidents.

In addition to those defined as University Officials in the Board of Regents Policy, the following are required to complete a FDUO annually:

  • Directors of the following units: Affiliated organizations (4-H, Arboretum, University Foundation), Asset Management, Natural Resources Research Institute, Office of Institutional Compliance, Office for Business & Community Economic Development, Office for Technology Commercialization, Purchasing Services, Sponsored Projects Administration, UMore Park, and the Weisman Art Museum;
  • Research Directors at Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester campuses; and
  • Licensing and marketing professionals in the Office for Technology Commercialization.

RESPONSIBILITIES

General Counsel
Advise the President or delegate on proposed conflict management plans before they are presented to the Regents for review and action. Take actions as appropriate under the procedure for mission related commercial transactions.
Executive Panel - Institutional Conflict Review Panel
Gather information to assist full panel. Evaluate risk potential and when appropriate forward potential situations to full panel.
Institutional Conflict Review Panel
Evaluate potential institutional conflict of interest situations. Develop and review institutional conflict management plans to ensure that the plans appropriately consider and address the issues. Forward management plans that meet the criteria for Regents approval to President or delegate and General Counsel for review and recommendation to Regents. Review information relating to implementation of conflict management plans. Determine whether post-approval implementation of a conflict management plan is proceeding appropriately and whether further action is necessary. Serve as a resource to the Conflict of Interest Program, General Counsel, and other members of the University community.
Office of Investments and Banking
Consult with Institutional Conflict Review Panel before voting on behalf of the University on an issue involving a company in which the University holds equity.
Office for Technology Commercialization
Generate royalty earnings report annually for submission to the Conflict of Interest Program. Inform Office of Investments and Banking about companies in which the University holds equity becauseof a license. When preparing equity or licensing agreements, check for potential institutional conflicts of interest and forward them to the Assistant Program Director, Conflict of Interest Program. Refer covered individuals who desire to hold a business interest in a University startup to the Conflict of Interest Program.
Board of Regents
Review and act on management plans involving institutional conflicts of interest as required by Board of Regents Policy: Institutional Conflict of Interest.
President (or delegate)
Review management plans that meet the criteria for Regents' approval. After consulting with the General Counsel, recommend approval, amendment or denial. Forward management plans and recommendations to Regents for final approval, amendment or denial.
Purchasing Services
Provide information to the Conflict of Interest Program and to the Institutional Conflict Review Panel as requested.
Office of Institutional Compliance, Conflict of Interest Program
Review Reports of External and Professional Activities (REPAs) and Financial Disclosures for University Officials (FDUO). Conduct review of annual reports of University royalty earnings, gifts, purchases, and industry sponsored research. Gather information to assist the Institutional Conflict Review Panel with the evaluation of matters presented to it. Report on conflict of interest matters as required by Board of Regents. Assist Institutional Conflict Review Panel with management plan monitoring.
University Officials
Complete a FDUO upon appointment and thereafter annually.
Sponsored Projects Administration
Provide information to the Conflict of Interest Program and to the Institutional Conflict Review Committee as requested. Before releasing sponsored projects funds, ensure that individuals have completed or updated their disclosure forms (REPAs) and all disclosed conflicts have been managed.
University of Minnesota Foundation
Provide information to the Conflict of Interest Program and to the Institutional Conflict Review Panel as requested.

RELATED INFORMATION

Policies:

Resources:

HISTORY

Amended:
May 2013 - Major Revision, Comprehensive Review:
  1. Aligns the definition of an institutional conflict with the definition in Board of Regents Policy: Institutional Conflicts of Interest.
  2. Combines six prior procedures into one and reduces the frequency of reporting by central units.
  3. Incorporates two new standards of conflict review. The first addresses research in which the University holds a financial interest and involves more than minimal risk to human subjects. The second applies to certain mission-related commercial transactions.
  4. Updates responsibilities and definitions to align with new and revised procedures.
  5. Title changed to Institutional Conflict of Interest.
Effective:
June 2006

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Last modified on November 13, 2013