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UI Staff Council approves conflict of commitment and interest policy

BY HILLARY ROSENCRANTS | MAY 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa Staff Council unanimously passed a new conflict of commitment and interests policy, and officials say this policy should bring forth a new era of business relations for UI faculty and staff.

“There are some activities that may be prohibited,” said Diane Finnerty, director of faculty and human resources development in the UI Provost’s Office, said in light of business relationships between supervisors and staff.

However, the majority of the policy’s rulings allow for incident-specific institutional decisions.

The Operations Annual Guidance Policy primarily prohibits selling in the workplace. An example used by the UI Staff Council was that of a lawn-care business, owned by a UI staff member in addition to a job at the university.

For example, if the owner of the lawn-care company was a supervisor at the UI and asked a faculty member to join the business, the policy deems that it would give the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“We certainly don’t want to do anything that would be viewed as coercive or under pressure,” said UI Vice President for Human Resources Susan Buckley. “I would probably say don’t sell at the workplace. If you come up to someone as a supervisor and try to sell them something, that’s not OK. Sometimes it’s just common sense.”

The policy largely relies on documentation of reported incidents.

The council hopes to include a staff portal in compliance with the new policy, where all staff will have one place to go should they need to fill out a conflict report.

The policy also covers faculty teaching their own children. Though this is not prohibited, there are certain guidelines that must be followed for both faculty and student, and it could generate an appearance of conflict.

“Our first line of energies is to let supervisors know what their role is in all of this,” Buckley said.

Once the new policy has been properly signed off on, it will appear for review on the Human Resources Department’s website.

Along with the new human-resources policy, the UI Staff Council newly elected president for the upcoming year, Randy Nessler, has a variety of goals for the council in the coming year.

“I haven’t tried to select one big goal, there are a lot of little things we can do to improve the environment for staff here at the university,” Nessler said. “We want to make people feel better about their role in their institutions.”


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