Conflict of interest and commitment

We owe our primary professional allegiance to the university and our mission. Activities outside of the workplace, private financial interests or the receipt of benefits from third parties can create an actual or perceived conflict between personal interests and/or commitments and our mission. Situations like these that create, or appear to create, a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment should be avoided. When avoidance is not possible, there are resources and systems in place at VCU to determine available options to manage the conflict. Having a conflict is not inherently wrong, but failing to disclose it appropriately is.

Virginia's Conflict of Interest Act outlines additional prohibitions for employee's who are required to annually disclose their interests to the state (based on their role or duties). Other prohibitions apply to all employees at VCU. If you have questions about whether an activity is a prohibited conflict, please contact our office at

Financial Interests & Accepting Gifts
Personal investments and accepting gifts from companies that do business with VCU may create, or appear to create, a conflict of interest. When determining whether a personal investment or gift creates a conflict, consider the relationship between VCU and the company, what you do here at VCU and whether you could possibly influence the business relationship.

If vendors or contractors have sent gifts in the past, we highly encourage departments to send a notice indicating that employees of agencies are precluded from accepting gifts from vendors. In addition, any gifts that are received should be politely and promptly returned with similar notice to the vendor or contractor.

If you have any questions about soliciting or accepting gifts from vendors or contractors, please contact Procurement Services at 828-1077.

Avoiding the Appearance of Favoritism
Favoritism is the practice of giving special treatment or unfair advantages to a person or group. When an employee has influence over employment or employment activities of a family member, significant other or student, it can lead to the perception that favoritism exists, which may create a conflict of interest. Favoritism includes, but is not limited to, consenting relationships and nepotism.

Research Conflicts of Interest
Conflicts of Interest exist when financial or other personal interests or considerations of the Investigator, or members of his or her immediate family, may directly and significantly affect, or have the appearance of directly and significantly affecting, an Investigator’s professional judgment in exercising any university duty or responsibility, including the design, conduct or reporting of research.

Conflict of Commitment: Outside Employment and Affiliations
Activities outside of the workplace may appear to create a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment. More specifically, these activities are considered a conflict if they could detract from the individual’s university responsibilities or involve the use university resources that are dedicated to achieving VCU’s mission. Again, Having a conflict is not inherently wrong, but failing to disclose it appropriately is.


Additional Resources