Conflicts of Interest for Faculty and Librarians (Policy and Guidelines)

Conflicts of Interest for Faculty and Librarians (Policy and Guidelines)

Topic: Faculty, Staff, Students: Conduct and Responsibilities
Approval Authority: President

Description: This conflict of interest policy, set of accompanying guidelines and procedure on disclosure, which incorporate many of the elements of the conflict of interest portions of the December 7, 1999 Draft Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment, now stand as the Policy, Guidelines and Procedure on Conflict of Interest with respect to faculty members and professional librarians (hereafter "academic employees"). Where matters described in this document differ from the Draft Policy, the provisions of this document apply.


  1. A conflict of interest exists when there is a divergence between an academic employee’s personal interests and his or her professional obligations to the University.
  2. Academic employees shall seek to avoid conflict of interest situations.
  3. Academic employees shall make full, timely and ongoing disclosure of a conflict of interest or a potential conflict of interest in accordance with procedures established from time to time.
  4. The University may determine that the activity which constitutes the conflict of interest will be permitted, and may impose such terms and conditions as it determines are appropriate.

Guidelines on Conflict of Interest


The following guidelines set out the expectations concerning conflicts of interest. Relevant University policies and reports set out herein are incorporated by reference.

Conflict of Interest

  1. A conflict of interest depends on the situation, and not on the character or actions of the faculty or staff member.
  2. The standard that will be applied to determine whether a conflict of interest exists is that of an independent observer who might reasonably question whether the faculty member’s professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of, or result in, personal gain, financial or otherwise, or benefit to related persons.
  3. The existence of an actual or potential conflict of interest does not preclude the involvement of the faculty member in the situation where the conflict has arisen or may arise, but it does mean that the conflict must be disclosed and resolved in conjunction with the person to whom the faculty member reports.
  4. The following examples, while not comprehensive, are illustrative of situations which may lead to a conflict of interest and which should be disclosed. The situations pertain to a faculty member and all of his or her non arm’s length relationships, including but not limited to that of a spouse or spousal equivalent, parent, child or sibling, or a person with whom there exists, or has existed, a close personal relationship.
    1. Using University Position for Personal Gain
      1. Entering into a research, business or other contract/transaction on behalf of the University with a company or firm in which the faculty member, or related persons, have a financial interest.
      2. Influencing the purchase of equipment, materials or services for the University from a company or firm in which the faculty member, or related persons, have a financial interest.
      3. Assigning reading material or other teaching material to students, when the assignment will result in financial gain for the assigning faculty member, either through royalties or a financial interest in the company publishing the materials under consideration.
      4. Accepting gifts, benefits or favours from individuals or firms with which the University does business, except as token courtesies
    2. Inappropriate Use of University Personnel, Resources or Facilities
      1. Directing students or staff to carry out work for a company or firm in which the faculty or member, or related persons, have a financial interest.
      2. Use of University property, resources or facilities for the faculty member’s personal benefit or the benefit of related persons.
    3. Inappropriate Involvement in Hiring or Evaluation
      1. Participating in or influencing the appointment, hiring, promotion or evaluation of a related person.
      2. Supervising or evaluating a student who is a related person.
  5. Examples of relevant policies:

IV.  Procedure for Disclosure of Conflict of Interest or Potential Conflict of Interest for Faculty Members and Professional Librarians

  1. Disclosure of a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest shall be made to the Dean/Principal/University Librarian. Any persons with questions about the Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures and/or about the applicability of the Policy and Guidelines to a particular circumstance are encouraged to contact the Office of the University Counsel. Specifically in regard to Guideline (a)(iii) above (circumstances in which an instructor assigns course materials from which he/she stands to receive financial gain), any circumstance falling under this Guideline involving a cumulative financial gain of a value of $500 or less will automatically be deemed permissible on disclosure.
  2. In the event of a disagreement between the employee and the Dean/Principal/University Librarian, the employee may refer the matter to the Vice-President Academic and Provost for resolution.
Legislative History: Agreement on the policy was reached with the York University Faculty Association. Policy effective May 1, 2009. Associated Procedures approved April 13, 2009.