TAP No. 33: Conflict of Interest


This policy applies to all Duquesne University employees. It also applies to Board Members, including University Advisory Board members.


The purpose of this policy is to ensure a high level of organizational integrity and avoidance of conflicts of interest on the part of anyone employed by or having a fiduciary duty to the University. It is intended to address the circumstances in which conflicts of interest may occur, to provide guidance on how such conflicts or potential conflicts should be avoided and/or be managed, and to identify other University policies which also respond to actual or potential conflicts of interest. 

I. Policy:

Those persons employed by the University or who serve as members of the Board of Directors or Advisory Board members (a “Covered Party” or “Covered Parties”) must not permit their personal interests to conflict, or appear to conflict, with the interests of the University. The University must be fully informed with respect to any financial or other interests that a Covered Party may have in any person, firm, or entity with which the University does business, so that any conflicts or potential conflicts can be managed, reduced, or eliminated. Covered Parties are required to comply with the procedures and guidelines for avoidance of conflict of interest as set forth below, to disclose conflicts or potential conflicts, and to adhere to conflict management directives from the University. Further, University resources may not be used for personal gain.

II. Conflict of Interest Definition

Conflicts of interest occur when a Covered Party is in a position to influence a decision, such as a policy, strategy, or purchase, where the Covered Party might directly or indirectly receive financial or other substantial personal benefit or give improper advantage to family members or associates. Such conflicts may arise out of, but are not limited to: 

      • Business or financial relationships between the University and a Covered Party or a Covered Party’s family member;
      • Business or financial relationships between the University and an entity with which a Covered Party or Covered Party’s family member is affiliated;
      • Service to another entity or organization whose interests are adverse or in conflict with the University; and/or
      • Use of University resources, and/or a University position or influence, to advance personal interests or interests of a family member. 

III. Procedures and Guidelines for Avoidance of Conflict of Interest

The procedures and guidelines described below address specific examples in which an actual or potential conflict of interest may occur and the requirements for avoiding and/or managing such a conflict. 

Other University policies also address conflicts of interest, and are incorporated into this policy by reference, including those referenced in Section V: Related Information. In addition, to the extent a circumstance leading to a potential conflict of interest arises and such circumstance is not addressed in this policy or any of the other policies below (Section V), Covered Parties are expected to use good judgment, professional commitment, and ethics to respond to such potential conflicts of interest and are expected to disclose the potential conflict to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business or their designee, the Secretary of the University, or the President. 

    1. Any Covered Party having an existing or potential interest in a contract or other transaction with a person, firm or entity that does business with the University must make immediate and complete disclosure of the interest to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business or their designee, the Secretary of the University, or the President and take appropriate steps as required manage, reduce, or eliminate the conflict.
    2. No Covered Party or a member of their immediate family may serve as a director, officer, employee or consultant of any business entity which does business with the University. Rare exceptions may be made with full disclosure of all relevant information to the appropriate Vice President, the Secretary of the University, or the President and prior written approval by the President. 
    3. No Covered Party or any member of their family may accept a gift, directly or indirectly, in any form, from 1) any entity that does business with or desires to do business with the University, 2) a supplier, or 3) a prospective supplier of the University.
      1. For the purpose of this policy, the term “gift” means anything with a value in excess of $250.00, including entertainment, which does not facilitate the discussion of the University’s business or otherwise serve a demonstrable business purpose.  

    4. A Covered Party may not utilize the services of any person employed by the University nor any account, sales tax exemption, material, equipment, machinery or property of the University for personal use without written consent of the President.
    5. University employees must be committed to the fulfilment of their professional responsibilities and external activities must not interfere with commitment to the University. Before contemplating outside employment or consulting activities, University employees must disclose to the appropriate vice president, dean, or department head potential conflicts of commitment or interest.
    6. All Advisory Boards members must also comply with TAP No. 63: University Advisory Boards.
    7. University Board Members must also comply with the University’s Bylaws. To the extent there is a conflict between this policy and the Bylaws, the Bylaws will take precedence.
    8. In the event that a Covered Party has any doubt concerning the requirements of this policy, the applicability of the reporting, and prior approval procedures, the Associate Vice President for Finance and Business should be consulted for guidance.

IV. Disclosure and Conflict Management

  1. The first step to addressing and potentially managing a conflict (where appropriate) is disclosing it. Annually, and such other times as the President or the Chairman of the Board of Directors shall request, certain Covered Parties shall deliver to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business a completed disclosure form in which such Covered Party shall disclose potential conflicts of interest as described in this policy. University Advisory Board members shall complete this same disclosure form at the interval described in TAP No. 63. University Board members shall complete disclosure forms as described in the University’s Bylaws.
  2. In addition to the annual disclosure discussed above, when a Covered Party is made aware of a potential conflict of interest throughout the year, they must immediately disclose the potential conflict and all relevant facts to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business or their designee, the Secretary of the University, or the President.  
  3. Any member of the University community who discovers events or circumstances that appear to be in violation of this policy should promptly report their discovery to the appropriate Vice President, Secretary of the University, or President.
  4. Potential conflicts of interest that are disclosed, whether annually or as they arise, will be reviewed by the Senior Vice President for Finance and Business or their designee and/or external investigators to determine the appropriate, situation-specific plan designed to manage, reduce, or eliminate the conflict. Covered Parties will be required to comply with all steps identified by the University.

V. Related Information

TAP No. 7: Ethics Reporting & Fiscal Misconduct

TAP No. 21: Employment of Relatives of University Employees

TAP No. 27: Political Activity

TAP No. 46: Commercial Entities – Faculty, Staff and Student Participation

TAP No. 63: University Advisory Boards

Research Policies, including RP-7: Conflict of Interest in Sponsored Grants and Awards

Faculty Handbook

University Bylaws

Investment Office policies

VI. Violations

Violations of this policy, including the failure to timely comply with the procedures detailed above, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are subject to formal disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment for University employees and being declared ineligible to serve for Board members.

VII. History

Date of most recent revision: April 2024.

VIII. Ownership of Policy

Office of the Associate Vice President for Finance and Business