Senate OKs new policy on conflicts of interest

By Craig Chamberlain

After more than an hour of debate and five minor amendments in language,
the Urbana-Champaign Senate voted its approval Monday of a new university
policy on conflicts of commitment and interest.

The new policy, most of it drawn from an interim policy in effect since
1988, would bring the UI into compliance with new federal guidelines that
went into effect Oct. 1. Approval is still required from the UIC senate,
and then from the University Senates Conference, which will need to work
out any differences between the two senates' versions.

According to Harriett Weatherford, associate vice chancellor for research,
action on the policy is necessary to meet guidelines approved last year by
the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The
university has to bring itself into compliance in order to receive research
funding from these two federal agencies, and from other agencies likely to
follow suit.

But the UI had relatively little work to do in this area because "we were
ahead of the curve," Weatherford said. "In 1988, when they drafted the
interim policy, they did a very good job."

The university has been operating under that interim policy since then, and
with Monday's vote, she said, "the actual policy really hasn't changed."

With the announcement of the new federal guidelines last fall, the
University Senates Conference established a subcommittee to review the
university's interim policy. The subcommittee presented its update of the
policy to the senates on both campuses last spring, but only as an
information item, not for a vote.

After considering input given during and after that meeting, the
subcommittee presented its 14-page policy to the University Senates
Conference, which then referred it back to the senates for further
consideration and action.

The most significant change approved by the senate on Monday was the
removal of one sentence listing the sanctions that can be imposed for
violation of the policy. Several senators and administrators noted,
however, that the sanctions - ranging from reprimand to the initiation of
dismissal procedures - are still available, even if not spelled out in the

Weatherford said the new federal guidelines will require the filing of
additional paperwork with each grant application sent to the agencies using
those guidelines. Efforts are being made by the university, however, to
simplify that process.

UIUC -- Inside Illinois -- 1995/10-05-95