The New Jersey Conflicts of Interest Law includes several carved out provisions which are specific to faculty members at public colleges and universities. Recognizing that a huge percentage of faculty regularly publish scholarly materials, edit scholarly journals, and compete for prestigious fellowships, grants, and other academic prizes, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for faculty. The State also recognizes that we need to protect academic freedom, and the conflicts laws should not interfere with the free pursuit of scholarly ideas and innovation.
What this means functionally is that faculty have slightly different disclosure requirements than staff members.
Do faculty need to file Request for Attendance at Event Forms (AAE) when traveling?
Faculty are not required to seek approval to attend scholarly events, and therefore the Request for Attendance at Event (AAE) form is not required for faculty. Faculty who receive payment or reimbursement for attending scholarly events should disclose that on their SCAD.
What is the difference between the Scholarly Activity and Outside Activity (SCAD and the OAQ)?
The OAQ seeks information about outside or secondary employment or volunteer positions that are unrelated to your duties and responsibilities with the University. Examples include: Consulting work where you are being paid by an outside company, working for a law firm as an expert witness, starting a side-business. Basically, your “side-hustle” should be disclosed on the OAQ.
The SCAD mainly captures information about faculty attending scholarly events and/or accepting academic awards. Conferences, seminars, colloquia, presentations, competitions, etc. These are mainly one-time or annual events where you are invited due to your role as a faculty member, and not a continuing relationship like consulting or working for an outside company.
Faculty are not required to disclose duties and responsibilities which are related to your work at the University, which you are performing in your capacity as a faculty member. Examples of activities faculty are NOT required to disclose: publishing/writing/editing, peer-reviews, and University grants.
The SCAD is required annually for faculty through eCOI+. We ask that faculty complete the SCAD once every academic year. The SCADs are submitted to the State Ethics Commission each year at the end of October.
Two main goals of the SCAD:
- Did you assign a book that you authored as mandatory to a class that you teach?
- Did you receive any benefits in your scholarly capacity?
Let’s break those down for clarity.
Assigning Mandatory texts to classes you are teaching
Faculty who have published scholarly works, and also teach, typically want to teach from those scholarly works. The State Conflicts of Interest Law requires that faculty who teach from their own works, should donate any royalties received directly from the classes they are teaching.
“How do I calculate the royalties from this particular class? Students may buy the books second-hand, and my publisher doesn’t tell me the source of every royalty check.” We ask that you make a good-faith estimate of the royalties from a class you are teaching and donate the monies to a charity non-profit of your choosing (many faculty donate the royalties back to their department through the Rutgers Foundation, as an example).
“What if someone else assigns my text for their class in the same department or in another department on a different campus?” As long as you are not personally involved in selecting the texts for another class, you don’t need to worry about donating those royalties.
What is a “benefit” for the purposes of the SCAD?
Benefits, broadly defined means any “thing of value” received due to your participation in a scholarly event. This could be reimbursement or waiver of fees for meals, travel, lodging, registration, etc. Faculty are permitted to accept payment, reimbursement, and/or waiver of costs for scholarly events, as long as they are related to the event. For example, if you are invited to attend a scholarly conference in Chicago, and the conference sponsor offers to pay for your flight, hotel, and conference registration, even if the meals are included in the registration, faculty are permitted to accept these benefits, however they must be disclosed on the SCAD.
The SCAD will ask you to provide the type of benefit received, an overall dollar amount, and the name of the event sponsor. If the event sponsor is a vendor or has an existing relationship with the University, you should note that the sponsor is an “interested party.”
What about honoraria or academic prizes?
Faculty are permitted to accept honoraria academic prizes for sharing and presenting their Intellectual Property. These should be disclosed as benefits on the SCAD.
What about grants?
Grants are typically awarded to the University as an institution, and not to individuals, therefore there is no need to make a disclosure for University grants.
Do faculty ever need to complete an Attendance at Events form?
Not typically. Most events that faculty members attend in an official capacity are related to academic and scholarly work, and therefore do not require approval (yay, academic freedom!). You will still need to inform your department chair if you will be traveling, and you may need to complete Travel and Expense forms if you intend to use University funds for meals, travel, lodging, and other permitted expenses.
Faculty are ALLOWED to accept payment or reimbursement (in whole or in part) for:
- meals related to the academic event
- reasonable travel costs for transportation to/from the event
- reasonable lodging costs
- honoraria and academic prizes
These benefits should be disclosed on the SCAD
Faculty are NOT PERMITTED to accept payment or reimbursement (in whole or in part) for:
- Entertainment expenses unrelated to the scholarly event (tickets to theater, sports, concerts, rodeos, etc.)
- Golf outings, ski trips, spa services, or other recreational activities unrelated to scholarly events
- Gifts, fancy off-site dinners and happy hours
Faculty can always participate in off-site events, after-hours recreational activities, or attend fancy dinners and happy hours with colleagues, but it is advisable to pay for your own ticket, food, drink, etc., if participation is not strictly a scholarly endeavor.
Frequently, we see sponsored dinners or happy hours from vendors or potential vendors which are not strictly part of the academic event or conference. When in doubt, pay your own way. You can always ask the ethics office prior to attending for guidance.
As always, if you have questions, please reach out to our office at firstname.lastname@example.org