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Institutional Compliance

» Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees

University Policy on Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment



This policy applies to the following Chapman personnel: 

  • Faculty, including tenure, tenure track, and non-tenure track appointments in the ranks of Full Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, and Instructor.
  • Academic Professionals, including research associates, research scientists, senior research scientists, scientists, and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Staff and Administrators, including administrative, librarian, and all other Chapman employees.

Together, these groups are referred to as Employees.

Reason for Policy:

Chapman University's integrity rests on the personal integrity of each of us called upon to act on behalf of Chapman University. Chapman University is committed to ensuring that decisions made on its behalf reflect the highest ethical standards and that its research and instruction remain a rigorous and open inquiry, unencumbered by conflicts of interest, real or perceived, that might affect the sound judgment of its faculty and staff. Each of us, therefore, is responsible for identifying and resolving conflicts between personal and institutional interests. We each must act in the best interests of Chapman University and refrain from taking part in any transaction where we do not believe in good faith that we can act impartially.


The mission of Chapman University is to provide personalized education of distinction that leads to inquiring, ethical, and productive lives as global citizens. In pursuit of this mission, Chapman University adheres to a Code of Ethics Policy comprised of guidelines that strive for the highest level of integrity and public confidence.

Individual conflicts of interest and commitment may affect Chapman University's Employees. An individual conflict of interest is a situation that may compromise an individual's professional judgment in carrying out university business due to an external or internal relationship that directly or indirectly affects the interest of the individual or an immediate family member. Disclosure of a conflict does not necessarily mean the transaction or arrangement will be disallowed. In most instances, disclosed matters are allowable, but disclosures must be made. Each situation that presents a potential conflict of interest must be fully disclosed to Chapman University and managed or eliminated before moving forward. Conflicts of interest also include conflicts of commitment, in which external activities, either paid or unpaid, interfere with an employee's primary obligation and commitment to Chapman University.

All employees must disclose activities and relationships that may create a conflict of interest/commitment or appear to create a conflict of interest/commitment as described below.  When deemed necessary, a plan to manage, mitigate or eliminate the conflict will be developed by the employee with their supervisor and approved through their chain of supervision. 



The broad principles in this policy encompass a variety of situations, many of which do not fall into patterns for which specific guidelines may be established. Conflicts of interest inevitably arise from time to time in everyday business life; some may appear inconsequential or even advantageous to Chapman University. It is essential, however, that all employees make timely disclosure in advance of any such conflict of interest as described below in Section 5. Employees should apply their sense of integrity and common sense to disclose any circumstances that may become or may give the appearance of a possible conflict of interest. While not an exhaustive list of all requirements, supplementing this broad policy statement are the following rules to be observed on specific matters:

2.1 Employees must refrain from putting the interests of any individual, agency, or organization above the best interests of the University.

2.2 An employee who has, directly or through family or business connections, a material interest in suppliers of goods or services or an interest in contractors or potential contractors with Chapman University should not act on behalf of Chapman University in any transaction involving that interest. In rare cases where vendors provide unique goods or services, an exception may be appropriate for the benefit of Chapman. In these cases, requests for review must be approved by the department head, dean, or vice president for an independent assessment and approval prior to the use of Chapman funds.

2.3 Employees should not participate in the selection, award, or administration of a contract with any outside entity with whom they negotiate regarding potential employment or any arrangement concerning potential employment. Similarly, no Employee may represent the University in any transaction with an outside entity or attempt to influence the University on any transaction with an outside entity where the Employee has a paid or unpaid commitment with that entity.

2.4 Employees must refrain from any activity or transaction that could influence or cause them not to act in the best interests of the University, including, without limitation, any personal business transaction or private arrangement, whether direct or indirect, paid or unpaid, for which personal profit could accrue, based upon the employee's position of authority with the University or due to confidential information which is obtained because of the position of authority.

2.5 Employees should avoid obligations with outside entities that may conflict or appear to conflict with the University's interests, including its interest in the Employee's full- or part-time services (i.e., a conflict of commitment). Outside employment and paid and unpaid board memberships, directorships, consulting, or similar arrangements must be disclosed in advance.

2.6 To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, all Employees must provide full disclosure of any business or financial enterprise or activity in which they are involved that also does business with Chapman University or that might influence or might appear to influence their official decisions or actions on university matters.

2.7 Chapman students, personnel, facilities, and other resources may not be used for an Employee's personal gain or the benefit of an outside entity.

2.8 Chapman letterhead, name, or other identification must not be used to imply University support for a personal viewpoint or professional relationship outside of Chapman.

2.9 Chapman facilities, Employee payroll time and other resources may not be used to support or oppose a candidate, campaign, or organization supporting a candidate or a campaign for public office. Refrain from making or soliciting contributions, in the name or on behalf of the University, to political campaign funds or making public statements on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or from using University funds, personnel or facilities in any form to, or in aid directly or indirectly to participate in any political campaign on behalf, or in opposition to, any campaign for elective public office, any political party, group, candidate, or cause. Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a nonpartisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. Questions should be directed to the person's VP or EVP over their area, and their VP or EVP may consult with the Office of Legal Affairs if needed.

2.10 Employees should refrain from unauthorized disclosure of Chapman's confidential business information, including information gained because of their position at Chapman.

Confidential business information includes but is not limited to: 

  • budgetary, departmental, or University planning information
  • non-public financial, procurement, health/safety, audit, insurance, and claims information
  • internal investigation information, pre-litigation, and non-public litigation and administrative agency charge, audit and inquiry information
  • all University attorney-client communications and University attorney work product
  • non-public donor and alumni information

All employees are required to safeguard business confidential information and only use or disclose it as expressly authorized or specifically required in the course of performing their specific job duties.

2.11 Employees should not use non-public information (e.g., pre-publication research results or Chapman confidential business information) accessed through the performance of a government contract for personal gain.

2.12 No Employee should make unauthorized use of Chapman University computer and communication technologies, business tools, and other resources for personal gain or the benefit of any other person or business. For more information, see Chapman University's policy on the Acceptable Use of Electronic Information Resources.

2.13 It is sound practice to discourage gifts and favors from people with whom Chapman University has a business relationship (including donors). Personal gifts of more than $500 should be tactfully declined or returned to avoid any appearance or suggestion of improper influence.

2.14 Any Employee doing business on behalf of Chapman University with vendors or individuals must disclose and receive an approval from their supervisor for payments, gifts, favors, gratuities, or items of monetary value or incentives of up to $500 from a Chapman vendor, contractor, or potential vendor or contractor. Anything above $500, must be disclosed and approved as described below. This includes participating in leisure trips like sporting events, golf outings, etc., with representatives of those vendors. Such trips may not be appropriate, even when an employee personally pays a fee to the vendor to participate in such trips.

2.15 Employees should refrain from using Chapman funds or personal funds to tender payments, gifts, or services to or for the benefit of any government agency official, employee, or designate who is in a position to influence directly or indirectly any government agency action or decision.

2.16 No Employee should act in any University matter involving a member of their immediate family, including but not limited to matters affecting family members' employment or evaluation or advancement in Chapman University. Immediate family includes an Employee's current spouse or  domestic partner, parent, sibling, Child and child-in-law, parent-in-law, siblings-inlaw, grandparent, grandparent-in-law, grandchild, or any other person who is a member of the Employee's household.

2.17 Employees may not promise or assign inventions and patents that are conceived or first reduced to practice, in whole or in part, in the course of their University responsibilities, with more than incidental use of University resources, to any third party, in accordance with Chapman's Inventions and Patents Policy and limited instances, Copyrighted Works Policy for Faculty and Academic Professionals covered by the Faculty Manual. For Staff and Administration, the University owns all copyrighted works Copyrightable, patentable, or commercially valuable material produced by Staff/Administrative employees as part of their job duties or responsibilities or in the course and scope of their University employment or which result from projects specifically funded in whole or in part by Chapman University.

2.18 Disclosure and a management plan are mandatory when an Employee wishes to initiate a new company or obtains ownership/stock in a company that operates in an area related to the person's Chapman responsibilities or has a current affiliation with a company at the time of hire. A management plan will be developed to ensure appropriate separation between the Employee's Chapman responsibilities and the company's goals.

2.19 Generally, an Employee's total time commitment to Chapman and to any other employer or client may not exceed full-time employment (100% effort). At the time of hire, part-time Employees should disclose to their supervisor other work or consulting activities that are similar or may overlap with their Chapman responsibilities. 



A Key Employee is defined as Senior staff and their direct reports, Deans, and others who have been identified to have significant dollar authority and/or operational authority. Operational authority includes the ability to influence non-salary resources or actively direct employees or resources.

Key employees must complete the annual disclosure process, but to ensure timely reporting, they will complete the Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employee form at the time the issue arises to be submitted to the COO/EVP. Those designated as Key Employees will have to complete both forms, when applicable. Any prior disclosure(s) made by the Key Employee will be included on their annual disclosure form.



It is acknowledged that Faculty and Academic Professionals have broader roles in their teaching and research, which may naturally create situations where other conflicts may arise. Conflicts of interest may arise when Faculty and Academic Professionals have the opportunity to influence Chapman University's business decisions or when outside relationships may or may appear to compromise the integrity of decisions made by Faculty and Academic Professionals. A faculty member's general commitment to Chapman University requires that the member perform their responsibilities to Chapman University. As a result, Chapman University relies on its Faculty and Academic Professionals to be alert to the possible effect of outside activities on the integrity of their decisions and their ability to fulfill their obligations to Chapman University. Faculty and Academic Professionals must disclose activities described below per Section 5. The following additional rules apply:

4.1 Faculty are encouraged to disseminate their research, scholarship, or other creative activity through external engagements (e.g., consulting). External engagements are professional activities related to the person's field or discipline where a fee-for-service or significant time commitment exists ( excluding public service described below). Full-time Faculty may spend up to one workday per week, on average, on consulting and types of external engagements. This time allowance may be averaged over a term (e.g., 14 days per term) but does not accumulate from term to term. Full-time Faculty must seek prior approval from their dean before beginning a new external engagement, and all external engagements must be disclosed at least annually through Chapman's prescribed process.

4.2 Faculty and Academic Professionals are encouraged to engage in public service activities with US government agencies, professional associations and societies, and journals for which they are paid a modest honoraria. These activities typically do not rise to the level of disclosure. In addition, royalties, honorarium for published scholarly works and other writings, or modest speaking fees at US institutions for lectures do not require disclosure. However, engagements with non-US entities do need to be disclosed. These activities also do not normally count towards the full-time Faculty's one day a week for external engagements. An exception would be serving as a journal editor, which often requires a substantial time commitment. Faculty should discuss the potential new engagements with their Dean in such cases.

4.3 Full-time Faculty and Academic Professionals are only permitted to accept employment or appointments at other research or educational institutions to perform services similar to their Chapman activities (e.g., research, teaching, or administrative duties) with prior written approval from the Provost.

4.4 Faculty and Academic Professionals that teach at Chapman may not use textbooks, films, or other teaching materials in their classes unless the Employee does not accept the profit from any sales to their Chapman students.

4.5 Students' academic activities must be free from the influence of the personal and commercial interests of the Faculty and Academic Professionals, including their advisors. An example is a research area within the ambit of a business in which a Faculty member has an ownership interest of 5% or more. Any involvement of undergraduates, graduate students, or postdoctoral scholars in the outside professional activities of the Faculty or Academic Professional directing the student's research must be specifically approved in advance by the Dean. The student or postdoctoral scholar must also sign the written disclosure to signify an understanding of the issues involved.

4.6 Disclosure is mandatory if the Faculty and Academic Professionals member is to receive sponsored support for research or other sponsored activities from a business for which they are a consultant or have a significant financial interest. Any potential conflict must be managed or eliminated before the sponsored project commences.

4.7 When Faculty engage in consulting or other external engagements, the use of Chapman's name is limited to identifying the individual by generic title (e.g., Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer) and place of work (Chapman University). The title may be used only during the term of the appointment at Chapman.

4.8 Full-time Faculty and Academic Professionals may only engage in activities or accept titles that constitute or imply managerial or supervisory responsibility (CEO, Director, Scientific Officer, or Vice President, etc.) with the prior written approval of their dean. Such approval shall not be given automatically. Roles and titles such as "Advisor" or "Consultant" may be used, e.g., "Chief Scientific Advisor" or "Chief Technical Consultant," which are more common for Faculty and Academic Professionals with full-time appointments. A management plan should be developed when an Employee forms a new company related to their Chapman responsibilities.

4.9 Consulting time limits do not apply during periods where full-time Faculty are not paid from Chapman funding sources, including internal funds or sponsored funds (e.g., over the summer or while on unpaid leave). However, Faculty are still required to disclose all external activities that may be related to their Chapman responsibilities, even if those activities are carried out during the summer or while on leave.

4.10 Except as provided in the Policy on Copyrighted Works, Faculty may not use teaching or research when such works are embedded in Chapman's courseware. In rare circumstances, and after consultation with the Chief Compliance Officer, the Provost may approve exceptions to this, which must be in writing, including the period for the approval. This is no exception for the use of materials for any Employees.

There is a separate disclosure of outside activities for federally funded academic research. The federal government requires that the University establish and administer a Financial Disclosure Policy for Investigators and a program for training Investigators in that policy. This is designed to ensure appropriate management of actual or potential conflicts of interest. Chapman University's program is outlined in the Sponsored Activity Financial Disclosure Policy for Investigators. This policy requires that all personnel responsible for the design, conductor reporting of sponsored activities under the terms of a grant or contract (each an "Investigator") and Chapman research center directors submit the Sponsored Activity Financial Disclosure Policy for Investigators to the University's Conflicts Officer (the "CO"), or designate, to disclose all "Significant Financial Interest" of the Investigator or the Investigator's spouse, partner, or dependent children.



Employees must report outside activities and potential conflicts:

  • Before they occur to receive appropriate approvals
  • At the time of hire
  • Or as soon as Employee becomes aware of a potential conflict.  

Employees must complete Chapman University's Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees Disclosure form or the FCOI form if the Employees receive sponsored funding from external sources. The Office of Research will review FCOI disclosures. Deans and Provost will review disclosures of outside interests by Faculty and Academic Professionals. For all other Staff and Administrators, disclosures will be reviewed by the supervisor and the appropriate EVP/VP.

The individual will be informed of Chapman's decision. The Chief Compliance Officer will assist in developing a management plan that will enable an activity to proceed in a way that manages or eliminates the potential for bias in carrying out Chapman activities.

Key Employee Annual Disclosures are managed separately by the EVP/COO, and questions regarding that process should be addressed to the Office of the EVP/COO-Harold Hewitt.

Sponsored funding disclosures are managed separately by the Vice President of Research, and questions regarding that process should be sent to the Office of Research.

Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary actions as described in Section 8 of the Faculty Manual, Faculty Discipline, or the Progressive Discipline of Staff and Administrators Policy, as applicable. 



Disclosures of Employee's outside activities and relationships will be reviewed as follows:

Outside Activity / Relationship 

Who Discloses 

When to Disclose 

Who Reviews Disclosures * 

Reporting Gifts over $500 (2.13, 2.14) 

All Employees 

Before accepting a gift 

Employee's VP or Dean 

Outside Appointment / Employment/Consulting
/Board Memberships / New Companies / Supervising Relatives (2.4; 2.15; 2.16; 2.17; 2.18; 4.5; 4.6; 4.8)

All Employees 

Before commencing the outside relationship, or 

At the time of hire for existing relationships 

Employee's VP or Dean; the VP for Research if participating in sponsored projects 

Procurement of Goods, Services, or Other Transactions from Vendor or Contractor with Familial or other connections with Employee (2.2; 2.5)

All Employees

Before initiating the procurement.

Employee’s VP or Dean; the VP for Research if participating in sponsored projects.

Full-time faculty employment at another research/educational institution (4.3); use of Chapman's courseware materials at another institution (4.10) 

Full-time Faculty and Academic Professionals 

Before accepting outside employment. 

 Before use of Chapman courseware 

The Provost and the Chief Compliance Officer 

* The Provost will provide the dean-level approval for centers and institutes that report directly to the Provost.


Attachment A: Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees Disclosure Form

Attachment B: For Faculty only – CAYUSE Institutional Conflict of Interest/Conflict of Commitment for Faculty


Name of Office: Institutional Compliance

Contact information for questions about this policy: Chief Compliance Officer, compliance@chapman.edu






Daniele Struppa, President

Date approved: November 14, 2020; November 16, 2023



Effective: November 14, 2020; revised November 16, 2023, January 24, 2024



Code of Ethics

Chapman University Conflict of Interest for Board of Trustees and Key Employees:

Sponsored Activity Financial Disclosure Policy for Investigators

Computer and Network Acceptance Use Policy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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