Faculty Conflicts

Take home message: If it is possible that your outside interests could conflict or appear to conflict with the University’s interests, you have a potential (or perceived) conflict that should be disclosed to your supervisor for discussion or management.

U-M Policy and helpful links

Things to remember

  • Every U-M unit has its own conflict of interest and commitment management policy: make sure you are familiar with your unit’s specific policy and procedures.
  • Remember: “You don’t have to do anything improper to have a conflict of interest; it is strictly situational” — Paul J. Friedman
  • In the busy and interconnected academic community, conflicts of interest and commitment just happen – and they don’t mean you are a bad person! The important thing is that you know how to identify potential conflicts, disclose them to your dean, chair or director, and work out how to manage them in a way that doesn’t compromise you or the University.
  • Potential conflicts are just as critical as actual conflicts – identifying conflicts before they actually happen puts you and the University in a much better position to avoid and/or deal with them.
  • Perception is as important as reality when it comes to conflict – the appearance of conflict can be very damaging to your reputation and the University’s reputation, even if you don’t believe there to be a conflict. Think about how any situation might look to outsiders when assessing your behavior. If it is possible that your outside interests could conflict or appear to conflict with the University’s interests, you have a potential (or perceived) conflict that should be disclosed to your supervisor for discussion or management.
  • If you or your outside company are entering a contract with U-M, the contract may require approval by the Board of Regents. Check with Procurement Services or (for research contracts) the Office of the Vice President for Research before finalizing such a contract.

People to talk to

For advice on specific conflicts, you should talk in the first instance to your dean, chair or director. You could also talk to your unit’s HR representative, who can give you guidance on your unit’s conflicts of interest and commitment policy and procedures.

For advice or questions about the new NIH/PHS conflict of interest regulations, contact theMedical School Office of Regulatory Affairs (for Medical School employees) or Office of the Vice President for Research.

For advice on policy implementation relating to conflicts, or for general guidance about managing conflicts of interest and commitment, contact the Provost’s Office – by emailing them or using one of the other contact options listed at the bottom of the Provost’s conflicts site. The Office of the General Counsel also maintains FAQs on Conflicts that may answer your questions.

For supervisors needing legal assistance relating to conflicts of interest or commitment contact Christine Gerdes (cmgerdes@umich.edu) in the Office of the General Counsel.


Established 3/4/11, last updated 3/7/17 – Contact us if you believe any information is incorrect or outdated