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Case Studies

The following information is provided to assist faculty and researchers as they navigate the policy requirements outlined on the University Policy page regarding conflicts of interest and commitment. Generally, the following relationships involve outside activities that require prior approval and outside interests that require disclosure:

  • Self-employment in which you establish or manage a business entity that makes your expertise or services available outside UT Dallas.
  • Serving as a consultant or providing professional services or expert advice to a business or other entity.
  • Participating in an Advisory Board that advises the management of an outside entity.
  • Serving on a board of directors, or council or other governing body, of a business or non-profit organization.
  • Acting as an officer, executive, or management position in which a business or other entity has authorized you to manage and protect property, money, and other assets.
  • Presenting material or work on behalf of a business entity as part of a speaking engagement.
  • Presenting scholarly work or research results for another academic institution in a seminar or lecture series.

Please visit the University Policy page for more information, including exclusions to the policy requirements.

The case studies described below apply the broad rules of federal and UT System regulations to specific situations to illustrate when faculty and researchers can expect UTD conflict policy to require action regarding an outside interest or activity. Each case presents a situation and describes the actions expected under university policy regarding the situation.

Case Study #1: Dr. Green, assistant professor of Economics
  • Philately
    • Dr. Green collects and studies stamps as a personal hobby and investment. His collection has a value in the tens of thousands.
    • Dr. Green spends several weekends each year organizing and expanding his stamp collection, including attending events of the American Philatelic Society
  • American Economic Association
    • Dr. Green serves as a committee member for the AEA, and he travels several times each year to Nashville to participate in AEA committee meetings and conferences.
    • Dr. Green receives reimbursement of travel expenses from the AEA of less than $5,000 per year.
  • Policy Response
    • Even though the stamp collection has significant value, Dr. Green does not need to disclose the financial interest the collection represents because the interest is not related to his institutional responsibilities to UT Dallas.
    • Dr. Green does not need to request approval for the time he spends on his stamp collection because the activity is personal in nature and not related to his institutional responsibilities.
    • Dr. Green does not need to disclose the travel reimbursement nor request approval for his work for the AEA because the AEA is a scholarly society and Dr. Green volunteers for the position.
Case Study #2: Dr. Orange, senior lecturer and research scientist, Chemistry
  • Dallas County Community College
    • Dr. Orange teaches a summer course on organic chemistry for DCCC.
    • Dr. Orange has a 9-month appointment at UT Dallas, and he teaches the course during the summer months when he is not on UT Dallas payroll.
  • Super Chemical Products Corporation
    • Dr. Orange provides technical advice for Super Chemical on the development of products that use technology related to Dr. Orange’s research at UT Dallas.
    • Dr. Orange plans to commit 12 days of the spring and fall semesters to his consulting work for Super Chemical.
  • Policy Response
    • Dr. Orange does not need to request prior approval for his summer course at DCCC because he has a 9-month appointment and teaches the course when he is not on UT Dallas payroll.
    • Dr. Orange requests prior approval for his consulting activity with Super Chemical because he is being compensated by a company that has financial interests could be affected by his research at UT Dallas.
    • Dr. Orange discloses his salary from DCCC and consulting fee from Super Chemicals because he is compensated for work that is related to his institutional responsibilities.
    • Dr. Orange’s relationship with Super Chemicals may create the possibility for a conflict of interest if Super Chemicals sponsors his research at UT Dallas.
Case Study #3: Dr. Comet, professor of Materials Science and Engineering
  • National Science Foundation
    • Dr. Comet reviews grant proposals for the National Science Foundation, and she travels to Washington, D.C. three days per year to participate in the review panel.
    • The NSF sponsors Dr. Comet’s travel expenses, which are less than $5,000.
  • Harmonic Materials, LLC
    • Dr. Comet co-owns and serves as Chief Technology Officer for Harmonic Materials, which she founded to commercialize technology she invented. The company sponsors Dr. Comet’s research at UT Dallas to further develop the technology.
    • Dr. Comet plans to commit 17 days per semester of her appointment to Harmonic Materials.
  • Policy Response
    • Dr. Comet does not disclose her NSF travel reimbursement and does not request approval for the activity because the NSF is a government agency and Dr. Comet volunteers for the position.
    • Dr. Comet requests prior approval for her outside activities with Harmonic Materials because she is compensated for work that is related to her institutional responsibilities.
    • Dr. Comet discloses her ownership stake and CTO position in Harmonic Materials because she owns part of a company that has financial interests could be affected by her research at UT Dallas.
    • Dr. Comet’s relationship with Harmonic Materials creates the possibility for a conflict of interest because Harmonic Materials licenses from UT Dallas technology Dr. Comet created, and sponsors research to develop that technology.
Case Study #4: Doug the Procurement Director
  • National University Finance and Procurement Conference
    • Doug works full-time as a procurement director. He is asked to make a presentation at the National University Finance and Procurement Conference about a project he recently finished at work.
    • The sponsor agrees to reimburse his travel expenses, but he will not receive an honoraria. He is reimbursed less than $5,000 for his travel.
  • Emerson Process Management
    • Because of Doug’s presentation at the conference, Emerson Process Management has hired Doug as consultant for a specific project. He expects to take off 2 days per month over the course of the summer to work on this project.
    • He provides expertise on the development of a management system similar to that used by UT Dallas.
  • Policy Response
    • Doug requests prior approval for his conference because he will receive travel reimbursement and because the activity relates to work Doug conducted for UT Dallas.
    • Doug does not disclose his travel reimbursement from the NUFP Conference because he was reimbursed less than $5,000 and because the interest does not create a conflict.
    • Doug discloses his consulting fee with Emerson Process Management and requests prior approval for his consulting work because he is compensated for work that is related to his institutional responsibilities.
    • Doug’s relationship with Emerson Process Management may create the possibility for a conflict of interest if Doug is responsible for negotiating and approving agreements for the management systems used by his department.
Case Study #5: Melissa the School Fiscal Officer
  • Texas Amateur Rodeo Association
    • Melissa is the fiscal officer for the engineering school. She is also competes in the Texas Amateur Rodeo Association.
    • She enters barrel racing events, but is paid no winnings.
    • Her travel to the rodeos requires her to take time off from work on a regular basis, usually 4 days a month.
  • Hope for Horses Equine Rescue
    • Melissa serves as Secretary of the board of directors for Hope for Horses Equine Rescue.
    • Her responsibilities include managing the foundation’s bank accounts and other assets, but she only participates in meetings and other activities on the weekends.
  • Policy Response
    • Melissa does not need to get approval for her rodeo activities because she does not receive compensation and it is not related to her institutional responsibilities.
    • She should discuss the activity informally with her supervisor because it requires that she takes time off from work on a regular basis to attend the events.
    • Melissa does not need to disclose her board service or request approval for the activity because it is personal in nature and not related to her institutional responsibilities.
Case Study #6: Jim the Resident Fellow
  • Texas Association of Business
    • Jim works part-time as a resident fellow in an institute in the business school.
    • He serves on the board of directors for the non-profit Texas Association of Business.
  • Metroplex Business Services LP
    • Jim is also self-employed, and owns a boutique consulting firm that serves business and development groups throughout the Metroplex.
    • He and his wife are the firm’s managing partners.
  • Policy Response
    • Jim does not need to request prior approval for his board service or work for his company because he is a part-time employee. Part-time employees do not need to request prior approval unless an activity is related to conflict of interest managed with UT Dallas.
    • Jim only discloses his ownership interest in his company if UT Dallas conducts business with Jim’s company.
    • If Jim’s company has given a gift to UT Dallas, or if his firm has performed work for the institute where Jim works at UT Dallas, the possibility for a conflict may exist. He should discuss the situation with the Conflict of Interest Manager.

Please contact the Conflict of Interest Manager if you have questions about UTD policy or completing your disclosure.