Conflict of Interest Policy

Policy Statement

The University of San Francisco is committed to pursuing "a common good that transcends the interests of particular individuals or groups" and to distinguishing itself as "a diverse, socially responsible learning community." Among its core values is the belief that "no individual or group may rightfully prosper at the expense of the other."

Reason for Policy

The Conflict of Interest Policy primarily intends to guide members of the University community to carry out their employment responsibilities in a manner that reflects and reinforces the values of USF. It further aims to ensure compliance with federal and state law and contractual obligations. USF expects all employees to maintain the highest level of integrity and objectivity in performing their job duties. Employees are expected to conduct their business dealings with vendors, consultants, and/or clients in a manner that will avoid any conflict of interest, or appearance of a conflict of interest, between the employees’ interests and the interest of the University.

Who Should Read This Policy

All University employees should read this Policy.

Policy Text

In general, the University expects all employees to:

  1. Be aware of the potential for real or apparent conflicts of interest in all their employment activities. 
  2. Abide by the standards set forth in the policy (including any additional procedures adopted by individual colleges or departments in furtherance of this policy). 
  3. Fully disclose professional and relevant personal activities and relationships that create a real or apparent conflict of interest.
  4. Address conflicts of interest that arise.
  5. Conduct University business with appropriate transparency.

All University employees are obligated to conduct the affairs of the University in a manner that promotes the University's mission, vision, and values. A conflict of interest may exist on two levels:

  1. Individual Level: when an employee has financial, personal, or other considerations that may affect or appear to affect their professional judgment in decision making on behalf of the University or,
  2. Institutional Level: when the University itself has financial or other considerations that may affect or appear to affect its decision making as it relates to the University's values, mission, and/or business practices.

Individual Conflicts of Interest

Each employee must:

  1. Refrain from using University resources to further employees’ interests (or the interests of their family) or the interests of any individual or group above the best interests of the University.
  2. Disclose any significant ownership, board service, consulting relationship, management, or financial interest in any entity doing business or proposing to do business with the University.
  3. Refrain from participating in transactions with the University (other than one's employment), which could result in personal profit except upon the written approval by the appropriate Vice President and the General Counsel.
  4. Refrain from accepting (without disclosing to the appropriate Vice President and the General Counsel) any gift, compensation, or benefit with a value of more than $250 from any person or organization who aims to influence the employee's professional judgment. This includes any person or organization with whom the employee may transact business on behalf of the University. Items valuing $250 or less are not included within this policy unless in the aggregate the total value exceeds $250 per year, in which case they must be reported to the appropriate Vice President and General Counsel.
  5. Refrain from making payments or providing gifts or services in the name of, or on behalf of, the University or with University funds, services, or facilities to anyone affiliated with a government or accrediting agency who is in a position to influence an action or decision related to the University.
  6. Refrain from making or soliciting partisan contributions in the name of, or on behalf of, the University or with University funds, services, or facilities in any manner to, or in aid of, any political party, group, candidate, or cause, so as not to jeopardize the University's tax exempt status which prohibits it from endorsing any political party, group, or cause.

Institutional Conflicts of Interest

An institutional conflict of interest may exist if the University has commercial arrangements that provide collateral benefits to the institution, such as when a vendor offers a gift to the University or if the University shares in the revenue generated by sale of the vendor’s product to students or employees. To ensure that the University’s best interests are served, these situations should be carefully reviewed by senior leadership. The appropriate Vice President will consider the following questions:

  1. Does the transaction entail a conflict between the USF’s values, mission, and/or financial interests?
  2. Does the transaction entail receipt by the University of financial benefit that may affect or appear to affect the quality or price of goods or services offered to students or other constituents?
  3. Does the transaction entail the actuality or appearance that the University is profiting to the detriment of students or other constituents?
  4. Would disclosure of the collateral benefit alleviate any actual or apparent conflict of interest?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, the President's Cabinet must resolve the matter.

Procedures

A conflict or a potential conflict of interest can arise at any time. Employees must disclose such situations to their supervisors before occurrence, if possible, and in any event as quickly as possible after it arises. If employees are in doubt about a situation, they should fully disclose the situation. There is no harm in over-disclosing; by contrast, failures to disclose may subject employees to disciplinary action.

To disclose a conflict or potential conflict of interest, employees and supervisors should adhere to the following procedures:

  1. Employees complete section 1 of the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form and submit it to their supervisor.
  2. The supervisor completes section 2 of the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form and submits it to Human Resources at humanresources@usfca.edu.
  3. Human Resources evaluates the situation and completes section 3 of the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form (i.e. reports the results) within ten business days, or up to 20 business days if more time is needed to gather information.
    • If no conflict of interest is found, Human Resources will send the updated Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form to the employee’s supervisor, supervising Vice President, and General Counsel. The supervisor will communicate the result to the employee.
    • If a potential conflict of interest is detected, Human Resources will send the updated Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form to the employee’s Vice President and General Counsel for joint resolution. Human Resources will then notify the supervisor who will communicate this to the employee. The Vice President and General Counsel will advise Human Resources of the resolution. Human Resources will then notify the supervisor who will communicate this to the employee. 

Violations

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Exceptions

Any exception to this policy must be approved in writing by the appropriate Vice President and the General Counsel.

Forms

Name and Location Use
Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form For employees to complete when a conflict or potential conflict of interest arises

Responsibilities

All University Employees

All University employees must disclose conflicts or potential conflicts of interest to their supervisors before the occurrence, if possible, and in any event as quickly as possible after it arises by completing a Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.

Human Resources

Human Resources evaluates all conflicts and or potential conflicts of interest, including all Conflict of Interest Disclosure Forms. Human Resources notifies the appropriate parties as described in the procedures section, depending on the outcome of the evaluation. Human Resources is responsible for notifying all employees of the requirements of this policy annually. Questions about this policy should be directed to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources.

General Counsel

General Counsel is responsible for enforcement of this policy. The General Counsel will review all violations of this policy, including:

  1. Failure to comply with the disclosure process (by refusal to respond or by deliberately responding with incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information, or otherwise);
  2. Failure to resolve conflicts of interest; and
  3. Failure to comply with the terms of any resolution reached pursuant to this policy.

The General Counsel will consult with the employee’s Vice President and the Associate Vice President, Human Resources regarding appropriate action.