The purpose of this policy is to provide information and guidance on activities of the unclassified staff that may give rise to the potential for a conflict of commitment. A conflict of commitment is a type of conflict of interest that may occur when outside professional activities interfere with a university employee’s ability to fulfill university expectations, obligations, and responsibilities.
Note: As conflicts of commitment generally involve issues of time allocation between university and outside professional activities, time commitments to outside professional activities are the focus of this policy. Non-professional activities or work that is unrelated to an unclassified staff member’s appointment that does not interfere with the employee's ability to fulfill their responsibilities to the University does not need to be reported and is not the focus of this policy.
Those activities related to an unclassified staff member’s responsibilities of employment at the university that they participate in outside of the scope of their university employment.
All outside professional activities are reportable using the online Outside Activities Report, whether or not compensation is received. Examples of reportable outside professional activities, which may also represent a material conflict, include, but are not limited to:
Ordinary institutional activities include those activities which extend an unclassified staff member’s institutional responsibilities of teaching, research, or service to other public institutions, organizations, and professional societies. Examples of such activities include:
Ordinary institutional activities do not themselves create a conflict of commitment and do not need to be reported in order to participate in them. However, unclassified staff are expected to engage in them in a manner that limits their impact on normal on-campus responsibilities.
With the single exception of service on a federal grant panel, any compensation received from ordinary institutional activities is reportable using the online Outside Activities Report.
This policy is responsive to the definitions, requirements for reporting of outside professional activities, standards of conduct and other guidance provided in Chapter UWS 8, Unclassified Staff Code of Ethics. The policy provides institutional standards concerning absence from regular duties for the purpose of engaging in outside activities and guidelines for identifying types or categories of outside activities which may result in a material conflict of interest.
UW-Madison’s expectation is that the primary professional skills, obligations, and work effort of its employees are committed to UW-Madison. At the time of appointment, every member of the unclassified staff makes a personal commitment to professional honesty and integrity.1 University unclassified staff are responsible for teaching, research, or other scholarly activity appropriate to the discipline, and service to the institution and the public. University unclassified staff that are meeting expectations of employment have the privilege to engage in outside professional activities with approval and oversight. In order to ensure that outside professional activities are conducted in a manner that does not conflict with an unclassified staff member’s commitment to the university, these members must disclose outside professional activities to the university on their Outside Activities Report. Whether commitment to an outside professional activity impacts university performance is generally determined by the Dean of the unclassified staff member’s school or college tenure home, who shall also consult with the unclassified staff member’s department chair or supervisor, unless circumstances warrant that such a determination be made by a director, the provost or chancellor. An unclassified staff member shall not engage in outside professional activities that create a conflict of commitment.
In any situation that a material conflict may arise between the personal interests of an unclassified staff member and their public responsibilities to the university, the member must notify their dean or director or their designee by submitting an Outside Activity Report describing the nature of the possible conflict so that the circumstances may be evaluated, and action taken as contemplated by UWS 8.04.
While this policy specifies time limits below which unclassified staff meeting university employment expectations may engage in outside professional activities that have been reported as required by UWS 8 without seeking written pre-approval of time commitment, the unclassified staff should be aware that the circumstances and impact of all professional and institutional activities on an individual’s institutional responsibilities are subject to review and approval by the dean or director or their designee.
Balancing professional commitments—exclusion of uncompensated ordinary institutional activities from the Outside Activity Report.
Ordinary institutional activities, as defined above, are encouraged by the university and do not count toward the allowable time limits for outside activities. However, unclassified staff are expected to engage in ordinary institutional activities in a manner that does not negatively impact their primary responsibilities to the university. If in the determination of the dean or director or their designee, an unclassified staff member’s commitments to ordinary institutional activities are such that fulfillment of the primary obligation to University teaching, research, or service is suffering, then the unclassified staff member’s portfolio of ordinary institutional activities and primary university responsibilities should be reviewed and rebalanced as needed. This situation might occur when the unclassified staff member has a full schedule of contributions to grant review panels, work for professional societies, and other professional commitments.
All outside professional activities of the unclassified staff are reportable, regardless of when during the year the activity occurs, and are also subject to review, evaluation, management, and approval by the university to ensure compliance with applicable policies and regulations.2
Members of the unclassified staff may not engage in outside professional activities without an institutional assessment of how the time committed to these activities may impact their expected contributions to the university. Engagement in outside professional activities must not disrupt the performance of university primary duties, including teaching, research, service, administrative responsibilities, and outreach.
The following time limitations represent the maximum number of days an unclassified staff member may devote to outside professional activities without the prior written approval of time commitments to the outside activity from their dean or director or their designee. Individual schools, colleges, and departments may impose stricter requirements than these time limitations reflecting local needs and concerns.
No member of the unclassified staff shall be absent from his/her assigned classes or other regular instructional duties at the university except by the permission of the chancellor or appropriate dean.4
It is the responsibility of unclassified staff members to carry out duties assigned by the department and to share in the governance of the institution as a whole. Furthermore, it is also the duty of faculty members to attend departmental, school or college, and university faculty meetings.5 Participation in outside professional activities must not impact these responsibilities.
Annually, on or before April 30, unclassified staff are required to complete an Outside Activity Report that covers the previous year, and they must generally update the report within 30 days if new outside professional activities or financial interests are obtained after that day. Details on what must be disclosed on an Outside Activity Report can be found at Frequently Asked Questions about Conflict of Interest and should provide a retroactive assessment of time commitments made in the previous year. In addition, if an unclassified staff member anticipates exceeding the time limits described above after the effective date of this policy, the member should file an amended Outside Activity Report at least 20 days prior to beginning the time commitment to the outside professional activity and receive approval in advance of engaging in the outside professional activity from their dean or director or their designee.
Unclassified staff seeking to engage or engaging in federally funded or human subjects research must also be mindful of additional reporting requirements found at Individual Financial Conflict of Interest: What to Report.
During the evaluation of potential conflicts of commitment, deans or directors or their designees shall consult with the unclassified staff member’s department chair or supervisor on whether conflicts disrupt or interfere with university duties, including teaching, research, service, administrative responsibilities, and outreach.
Deans or directors or their designees are responsible for making decisions on whether or not the conflicts disrupt or interfere with university duties and how to address potential conflicts of commitment as needed.
Appeals should be advanced by the process described in Chapter 8 of the Faculty Policies and Procedures or Chapter 9 of the Academic Staff Policies and Procedures.
Noncompliance with this policy may result in an investigation and possible disciplinary action up to and including dismissal under Chapter 9 of the Faculty Policies and Procedures or Chapter 6 of the Academic Staff Policies and Procedures.
This policy provides information on the university’s expectations with respect to balancing university responsibilities and outside activities and operates in conjunction with Wisconsin Administrative Code Chapter UWS 8, Faculty Policies and Procedures Chapter 8, and Academic Staff Policies and Procedures Chapter 12. Unclassified staff members are also subject to other policies, regulations, and laws related to conflicts of interest and the use of university resources for personal gain. An overview of such policies can be found on the UW Research Policies and Regulations page.
In addition, unclassified staff members of the School of Medicine and Public Health engaged in clinical practice are subject to the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation’s policy prohibiting private practice for clinical faculty (inquiries should be addressed to the School of Medicine and Public Health Office of Human Resources and/or the UW Health Office of Business Integrity).
1 UWS 8.01(1), FPP 8.02.
2 Unclassified staff may not use university resources for outside professional activities except in accordance with applicable university policies and requirements.
3 Unclassified staff receiving extramural funding may not exceed limitations on outside professional activities imposed by funding sources.
4 FPP 8.02(A).
5 FPP 8.02(A).
Members of the unclassified staff will report time commitments to outside professional activities using the on-line Outside Activities Report. Deans or Directors or their designees will use reviewer tools provided in the Outside Activities Report system to receive reports, review requests and provide the unclassified staff member with decisions on the requested time commitment to the outside professional activity.