Over the years the University has adopted a number of policy statements on various aspects of conflicts of interest. These policy statements reflect the University’s fundamental concern for ensuring that the integrity of the institution and of all of its constituent members remains above reproach. Not only actual conflicts of interest, but also the appearance of conflicts, are harmful to both the University and the individual involved.
As both the world and the University become more complex, it becomes desirable to have a single conflicts of interest policy statement to which faculty members, other officers, and staff members can refer. The University is accordingly issuing this unified statement of its conflict of interest policies, superseding all prior statements on conflicts of interest. 1
Some of these policies have been previously published and in effect for many years; other policies have been observed in practice but are set forth here in writing for the first time. Every member of the University community — faculty and nonfaculty alike 2 — should review this statement carefully, be certain that he or she fully understands the conflicts policies applicable to the position he or she holds within the University, and take care to comply with whatever steps those policies require of him or her.
Disclosure to the proper University official of a situation which might create, or be viewed as creating, a possible conflict of interest has always been an essential element of the University’s policies. Disclosure and consultation continue to be the best means for the avoidance of impermissible conflicts of interest. As conflict of interest situations are often complex and since judgments may differ on whether a conflict in fact exists, such a policy of disclosure and consultation is aimed at preventing an officer from inadvertently placing himself or herself in a position of conflict with his or her responsibilities to the University.
The University has accordingly developed the following policies and guidelines with which all officers are expected to comply
1 Except the policies set forth in “Columbia University Guidelines for Situations Involving Potential Conflicts of Interest Between Scholarly and Commercial Activities,” April 18, 1986, which remain in full force and effect.
2 While references in this Statement are to officers, this Statement of University Policy on Conflicts of Interest is applicable to supporting staff members as well as to officers of instruction, research, the libraries, and administration.