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Institutional Compliance

» Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees


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. 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.

Individual conflicts of interest may affect Chapman University’s faculty or staff.  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 relationship that directly or indirectly affects the interest of the individual or an immediate family member. Disclosure of a conflict does not necessarily mean that the transaction or arrangement will be disallowed.  In most instances, disclosed matters are allowable, but it is important that timely disclosures be made.  Each situation that presents a potential for 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 which are situations 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 create a conflict of interest/commitment or that have the appearance of creating a conflict of interest/commitment.  When deemed necessary, a plan to manage, mitigate or eliminate the conflict will be developed by the employee with his/her supervisor and approved through their chain of supervision.

Chapman University’s faculty and staff are required to complete Chapman University’s Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees Disclosure form as soon as they become aware of a potential conflict.  This policy is different than the Annual Disclosure process for Board members and Key Employees or the Sponsored Activity Financial Disclosure Policy for Investigators.



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 to be inconsequential or may even be advantageous to Chapman University. It is important, however, that all employees make timely disclosure of any such conflict of interest. Each employee should apply their sense of integrity and common sense to disclose any circumstances that are, may become, or may give the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.  Supplementing this broad policy statement are the following rules to be observed on specific matters:

2.1 Each employee has a duty to act in the best interest of Chapman University and avoid actions that would call into question the integrity of the employee or Chapman 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. No employee should participate in the selection, award, or administration of a contract with any party with whom they are negotiating regarding potential employment or any arrangement concerning potential employment.

2.3 An employee should avoid outside activity involving obligations 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, board memberships, directorships, consulting or similar arrangements, must be disclosed.  Conflicts will be reviewed by the Division Chair and Provost for faculty, the supervisor and appropriate EVP/VP for staff.  Both will report conflicts to the Chief Compliance Officer who will in turn compile the information to report to the Audit Committee of the Board.

2.4 To avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, an employee should provide full disclosure of any business or financial enterprise or activity in which he/she is involved that might influence, or might appear to influence, their official decisions or actions on university matters.

2.5 An employee should refrain from personal activities that include, but are not limited to, real property, or other goods or services in which they could use or might appear to have the opportunity to use, for personal gain, confidential information or special knowledge gained as a result of their relationship with Chapman University.  

2.6 An employee should refrain from unauthorized disclosure of non-public information concerning Chapman University.  Additionally, an employee should not use non-public information accessed through the performance of a government contract for personal  gain.

2.7 No employee should make unauthorized use of Chapman University resources for their personal benefit or for the benefit of any other person.  See Chapmans University’s policy on Acceptable Use of Electronic Information Resources.

2.8  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. While gifts should be declined, if they were accepted they must be disclosed even if returned. Any employee involved in awarding or administering contracts using federal or other government funds should keep in mind that state and federal law contain prohibitions against soliciting or accepting gratuities, favors or anything of monetary value from contractors or potential contractors.

2.9 Any employee doing business on behalf of Chapman University with specific vendors should refrain from participating on leisure trips like sporting events, golf outings, etc. with representatives of those vendors. Such trips may not be appropriate, even when a staff employee pays a fee to the vendor to participate in such trips.

2.10 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 spouse or domestic partner and children.  

Any employee who believes that their conduct or activities may or may appear to conflict with these guidelines or activities or otherwise create a conflict of interest, should make the appropriate disclosure. 

See Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees Disclosure Form (Attachment A)



A Key Employee is defined as Senior staff and their direct reports, Deans, and others who have been identified to have significant dollar authority.

Those designated as Key Employees will have to complete both forms, when applicable.  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.  Any prior disclosure(s) made by the Key Employee will be included on their annual disclosure form.



It is acknowledged that, in their wider roles as academicians and professionals, the faculty may be subject to conflicts of interest that are not necessarily financial and that are not within the scope of a policy that is designed to address conflicts of interest in the employer-employee setting. For example, this policy is not designed to address conflicts that may be encountered in service to a professional society. Academic and professional activities not covered by this policy are best handled within the ethical guidelines established by the Faculty Manual .  Faculty members must be aware of potential conflicts to ensure an open and productive environment for research and teaching.  Conflicts of interest may arise when faculty members 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 as teachers and researchers.  A faculty member's general commitment to Chapman University requires that the member perform their responsibilities to Chapman University and appropriately use their own judgment in deciding whether to engage in a variety of extramural activities, within the confines set forth in the Faculty Manual.  As a result, Chapman University relies on its faculty to be alert to the possible effect of outside activities on the integrity of their decisions and on their ability to fulfill their obligations to Chapman University. Accordingly, in addition to the conflict rules set forth above, the following guidance is provided for faculty:

 4.1 Some activities and interests are unlikely to lead to serious conflicts of interest and do not require disclosure.  An example is a faculty member's entitlement to royalties or honoraria for published scholarly works and other writings or occasional lectures. Likewise, no serious conflicts arise when a faculty member serves as a consultant to a government agency, receives royalties under University royalty-sharing policies or owns equity in a business solely for the faculty member's consulting activities.   

4.2 Disclosure is mandatory if the faculty member directs students into a research area and, as a result, the faculty member intends to realize financial gain.  An example is a research area within the ambit of a business in which the faculty member has a significant ownership interest, or which employs the faculty member as a consultant. Any involvement of undergraduates, graduate students or postdoctoral scholars in the outside professional activities of the faculty member directing the student's research must be specifically approved in advance by the Division Chair.  The student or postdoctoral scholar must also sign the written disclosure to signify understanding of the issues involved.  

4.3 Disclosure is mandatory if the faculty member has a significant interest in a business      under circumstances that link the fortunes of the business to the faculty member's research.    

4.4 Disclosure is mandatory if the faculty member is to receive sponsored support for research from a business for which the faculty member is a consultant, or in which the faculty member has a significant financial interest. 

There is a separate program 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 has such a program as 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”) submit the Sponsored Activity Financial Disclosure Policy for Investigators  to the University’s Conflicts Officer (the “CO”), or designee, to disclose all “Significant Financial Interest” of the Investigator and/or the Investigator’s spouse, partner, or dependent children.



As soon as you become aware of a potential conflict, you are required to complete the Chapman University’s Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees Disclosure form. The completed forms should be turned into your Division Chair and/or Dean and Provost for faculty, or to your supervisor/manager and appropriate EVP/VP for staff. Both will report conflicts to the Chief Compliance Officer who will in turn compile the information to report to the Audit Committee of the Board.  

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

Federally funded research disclosures are managed separately by the VP of Research and questions regarding that process to the Office of Research – Interim VPR – Janeen Hill.



Attachment A: Institutional Conflict of Interest for Employees Disclosure Form



Name of Office: Institutional Compliance

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






Daniele Struppa, President

Date approved: April 14, 2020



Effective: April 14, 2020



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

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