Obligations and Responsibilities

Policies Governing Educational Programs

       The educational programs of the University and the instructional responsibilities of its faculty are governed by policies, regulations, and procedures set at multiple levels. Within the University, most are determined by the individual schools. The University Senate has concurrent powers over the curricula of the schools, with the exception of those leading to the bachelor’s degree, and defines University policy on educational matters that affect more than one school.

       The Provost, with the assistance of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs, exercises oversight over the University’s educational programs; approves changes in programming before submitting them to the University Senate, when appropriate, for its review; ensures the University is properly accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; manages its relationship with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and, when necessary, with the NYSED’s counterparts in other states; serves as the academic liaison to the University’s Student Financial Services; and is available to assist the schools with matters relating to their educational programs. The instructional programs of the University are governed by New York State laws and regulations and must comply with federal laws and regulations. Details on these regulations, procedures for creating or modifying programs, and ensuring compliance with state and federal laws are outlined in “Approval of Educational Programs: Policies and Processes.”

Instructional Responsibilities of the Faculty

       The University leaves the organization and content of courses, in large measure, to the discretion of the faculty and respects their right to express freely their views on the subjects they are teaching. Their courses are subject to the approval of their department or school to ensure that they meet the University’s standards of quality and contribute to its curricular programs. Each school has its own procedures for determining the instructional assignments of its faculty. New courses must be approved by the Committee(s) on Instruction, or an equivalent faculty body, of the school(s) within which they are offered. The University has delegated to the deans of the individual schools the responsibility for ensuring that all of the courses comply with its credit hour policies.

       Disagreements over what a faculty member will teach may be appealed to the dean or executive vice president in the first instance and then to the Provost. If still not satisfied, the faculty member may ask the Committee on Faculty Affairs, Academic Freedom, and Tenure of the University Senate to attempt to mediate the dispute. If the Committee is unable to find a resolution acceptable to the faculty member and the department chair, dean or executive vice president, it may submit a report on the dispute to the Provost, who will make the final determination.

       It is the responsibility of the faculty to meet all scheduled classes. In the event of an unavoidable absence due to an emergency, religious holiday, or other scheduling conflict, an officer must reschedule missed classes, arrange for a replacement, or provide alternative instruction. Those arrangements should not substantially inconvenience their students or faculty colleagues. Should an officer be absent for an extended period due to illness or injury, the department or school will provide substitute instructors for their courses.

       Faculty have the discretion to set their own policies on class attendance and on making up missed assignments, subject to the limitations defined by the University’s policies on religious holidays and any requirements set by their schools. Faculty have an obligation to provide their students with a clearly written description of their policies at the start of the term and to follow them consistently. Faculty are also expected to give students clear written statements of course requirements and to judge them solely on the basis of their academic performance. During the course of the term, faculty should notify the academic advisors of those students who are at risk of failing their courses. Faculty must obtain the approval of the appropriate Committee on Instruction, or an equivalent curriculum committee, in order to modify the time commitments they expect of their students. Students who feel that a faculty member has not fairly applied those policies have the right to appeal to their dean.

       Faculty should hold regular office hours during the academic term that are clearly communicated to students. Faculty are also expected to be available to advise students during registration and the final examination period following the end of classes.

       Faculty who are on leave are expected to continue to supervise the work of their students (with the exception of those who are on protected medical leaves). In particular, faculty on leave remain responsible for providing guidance to their student advisees who are conducting research for or writing doctoral, master’s, or undergraduate theses. They should be present for any qualifying exams or theses defense remotely if they cannot be present in person.

       Faculty should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses and not use them to advocate any political or social cause. The University seeks to provide a learning environment that promotes intellectual inquiry and analytical thinking. In pursuit of those goals and the objectives of their courses, faculty may find it necessary to engage their students in discussions about issues that are contentious and emotionally charged, to respond critically to students’ reasoning, and to challenge them to reexamine deeply held beliefs. Faculty should allow the free expression of opinions within the classroom that may be different from their own and should not permit any such differences to influence their evaluations of their students. This is an important part of the faculty’s responsibility to their students and the educational mission of the University, but it must be done with civility, tolerance, and respect for ideas that differ from their own. When students feel that one of their instructors has not met that requirement, they are encouraged to resolve the problems directly with the faculty member but may instead turn to the department chair or dean. They may also seek a formal hearing of their complaints against the faculty member under the grievance procedures of their school. Each school has its own procedures for evaluating student complaints about the conduct of their instructors. These are posted on the individual school’s website and may also be obtained by contacting the office of its dean or visiting this list of grievance procedures for students.

Religious Holidays

       No student may be penalized for absences due to religious beliefs. Students are expected to inform their faculty of any religious holidays they intend to observe as early in the term as possible. Faculty are expected to find alternative means by which those students can satisfy missed academic requirements. If a suitable arrangement cannot be worked out between the student and the instructor, the instructor should consult the appropriate chair or dean or executive vice president. If an additional appeal is needed, it may be taken to the Provost whose determination is final.

Policies and Practices for Posting Information on Course Textbooks

       Posting of textbook information to Canvas is an important condition the University must meet for its students to continue to receive federal financial aid. To satisfy this legal requirement, faculty are required to provide complete textbook information (listing all required course materials including books, software or online programs, specialized calculators, lab materials, etc.) in CourseWorks prior to student registration.

Use of Copyrighted and Other Materials for Instructional Purposes

       Faculty who wish to reproduce articles, portions of books, and other printed materials not in the public domain for use by their students must comply with the requirements of federal copyright law, which protects an author’s rights in original work regardless of whether it contains a copyright notice. In addition, certain types of copying may be permitted if it falls within the law’s definition of “fair use” as detailed in the University Copyright Policy. The University Libraries’ staff can work with faculty to secure the licenses if these become necessary.

       Course syllabi, notes, study aids, and other materials, both printed and electronic, prepared by faculty are generally the intellectual property of the faculty member, although there are some conditions in which Columbia or another university or college will assert ownership rights to them as described in the University Copyright Policy. Before using instructional materials prepared by other faculty or institutions for their own courses, faculty should obtain the necessary permissions and acknowledge the creator.

Persons with Disabilities

       The University is sensitive to the needs of its constituents and is committed to facilitating equal access for anyone with disabilities. Special attention is given to the needs of disabled faculty and students in assigning classrooms that can accommodate those individuals. This will sometimes necessitate relocating classes after the start of a term.

       Disability Services, which is responsible for providing support for students with disabilities on the Morningside, Manhattanville, and Irving Medical Center campuses, works with faculty to ensure that the accommodations the students receive are consistent with course requirements, the academic standards of the programs in which those students are enrolled, and the clinical documentation submitted to Disability Services to support specific accommodations.

       While students with disabilities are expected to meet the same academic requirements as other students, they may require special arrangements in order to do so, such as recordings of class lectures, the assistance of a sign language interpreter, and extended time or separate space for in-class examinations. The Office of Disability Services informs faculty of any accommodations that need to be provided to students enrolled in their courses, directly or through the appropriate members of their dean’s staff, and encourages the students to discuss their needs directly with their instructors.

       Students with disabilities requesting accommodations are required to register with the Office of Disability Services and must provide current clinical documentation that verifies their disability status and accommodation needs. Faculty members are not required to make adjustments for students who have not registered with that office and are advised not to make academic adjustments on their own. Faculty should contact that office directly for additional information or with concerns about specific students.

Students in Need of Psychological Counseling

       When faculty encounter students who appear in need of psychological counseling, they should contact the appropriate dean of students and Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) for advice and assistance. They should not try to help the students on their own. Professional counselors in the CPS can advise faculty on how to respond to students in crisis or obvious distress and how to refer them to their office for counseling. Faculty can also ask the counselors for confidential consultations about difficult situations relating to students. However, members of the CPS staff cannot share privileged and confidential information about students using their clinical services.

       In addition to providing help with individual students, CPS offers staff training on specific mental health topics and is available to meet with faculty and deans to discuss mental health questions, such as early warning signs of psychiatric illness, bipolar disorder, and disruptive students. For more information on the office and its services, faculty should consult Counseling and Psychological Services.

Privacy of Student Records

       The University’s policy on access to student records is guided by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), as amended. The policy regulates the access of students to their educational records at the University and defines the conditions under which the University will grant access to or release those records to third parties. The policy is binding for all University employees, including faculty. Before accessing student records, faculty are expected to understand FERPA policy. Faculty who have access to student records should complete the Security Awareness Training, in which FERPA is discussed.

       In general, the University will not release a student’s transcript or other information from or about a student’s educational records without their written consent. The policy also provides that students generally may have access to their educational records at the University. Specific exceptions to both of these statements are set forth in the policy.

Student Discipline

       The continuance of each student on the rolls of the University, the receipt of academic credits, graduation, and the conferral of any degree or certificate are subject to the disciplinary powers of the University, which is free to cancel registration at any time on any grounds it deems advisable. The Trustees and the President have delegated responsibility for student discipline primarily to the deans of the individual schools and divisions. Their administration of that responsibility is known as Dean’s Discipline. In general, Dean’s Discipline is administered by the dean of students within the student’s school, usually, in conjunction with Student Conduct and Community Standards, with the dean serving as the final source of appeal. In limited situations, in cases that have gone through the Rules of University Conduct and the University Judicial Board, a student may make a further appeal to the President. A faculty member who believes that a student has engaged in an academically dishonest practice, such as cheating on an examination, plagiarism, or personal behavior that seriously disrupts the academic environment, should consult the appropriate dean’s office.

Alternatives to the procedural rules of Dean’s Discipline exist for alleged violations of the Rules of University Conduct and allegations of gender-based misconduct/sexual assault.  Information about the Rules of University Conduct are included in the Office of University Life’s Guide to the Rules of University Conduct. Information about the handling of allegations of gender-based misconduct/sexual assault can be found in Policies and Rules.

       This section contains a summary of the policies and procedures the University follows to promote the scholarly and scientific inquiries of its faculty and officers of research and to meet the regulatory and other requirements of the external sponsors that provide the financial resources that sustain much of that research. In addition, it describes certain administrative offices that can assist investigators conducting research at the University.

       More detailed information may be found in a suite of handbooks prepared by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research: the Sponsored Projects Handbook, Clinical Research Handbook, Research Environmental Health and Safety Handbook, Research Radiation Safety Handbook and Animal Research Handbook (Research Handbooks) available on the Columbia Research website.

Research Policies

       The University does not impose limitations on the research that faculty and officers of research may pursue in their individual capacity, other than to expect that such work will not interfere with their other University responsibilities. It has, however, adopted policies to regulate the conduct of research, some of which are discussed below.

Fundamental Principles Governing Externally Funded Research

       The University regularly enters into agreements with external funding sources, such as government agencies, foundations, and corporations, to support research undertaken by its faculty and professional officers of research. To ensure that these projects do not compromise the University’s commitment to unrestricted scholarship, proposals for externally funded research are expected to conform to the principles contained in Chapter XLIII of the University Statutes, which specify conditions under which the University will not accept external support:

  • An outside party may not be given the power to censor, exercise an effective veto over, or unreasonably delay the publication or other dissemination of the results of the project.
  • An outside party may not determine who can participate in a research project on the basis of political beliefs or exclude anyone on criteria that violate the University’s nondiscriminatory policies, subject to the University’s obligations under state and federal laws.
  • The University will not be a party to classified research, will not seek security clearances for any individual or facility, and will not control access to information in accordance with any security regulation.

Central Administrative Offices Involved in Sponsored Research

       The Office of the Executive Vice President for Research has overall responsibility for the University’s research enterprise. It assists faculty and officers of research in identifying external funding opportunities, administering the grants and contracts they receive, and ensuring that they comply with both University and external regulations governing the conduct of research. It oversees the following offices:

  • Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA), which serves as the primary support office for sponsored research grants and contracts. SPA provides assistance throughout the project lifecycle, and is responsible for assuring compliance with regulatory and other requirements that govern sponsored projects;
  • Office of Research Compliance and Training, which administers the University’s policies on financial conflicts of interest in research, research misconduct, and international research and export controls, and which serves as a resource on compliance questions, including those relating to data management, effort reporting, and science and security;
  • Human Research Protection Office and the Institutional Review Boards, which ensure that research involving human subjects, including behavioral research (e.g., surveys) and biomedical investigations (e.g., clinical trials), is conducted ethically and in a manner that promotes compliance with all applicable policies and regulatory requirements;
  • Research Initiatives and Development, which fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, builds shared research facilities and resources, and supports efforts to secure funding for such collaborations; 
  • Environmental Health and Safety, which guides and promotes a productive and safety conscious research environment compliant with University policy and applicable regulations; and
  • Postdoctoral Affairs, which serves the University’s postdoctoral research scientists, scholars and fellows by providing them with educational, training and career development resources.

More detailed information about these offices and the areas they oversee may be found in the Research Policies and Handbooks page on the Columbia Research website.

       Proposed research that involves, for example, human subjects, vertebrate animals, recombinant DNA, stem cells, or radioactive or hazardous materials requires special approvals through the appropriate research offices or committees at the University. These requirements and related procedures are summarized in the Research Handbooks. All research that involves human subjects must be reviewed by one of the University’s Institutional Review Boards before the study begins. Any person listed as research personnel on a protocol must have an appointment at the University.

Principal Investigators

       The full administrative, fiscal, and scientific responsibility for the management of a sponsored project resides with the principal investigator named in the award. A principal investigator is required to:

  • assume overall responsibility for the management of the project;
  • determine project feasibility;
  • ensure that all of the information in the funding proposal is presented in a manner that is complete, accurate, and developed according to the practices commonly accepted within the relevant academic community;
  • ensure that all required approvals are obtained and University forms and certifications are completed in a timely manner;
  • know and abide by the terms and conditions of the award;
  • conduct the work on the project according to the research protocol or statement of work that was submitted with the original proposal or as subsequently modified by the sponsor in agreement with the principal investigator and the University;
  • ensure that all work meets the highest ethical standards and is conducted in accordance with the University’s conflict of interest policies;
  • ensure that all work performed is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations and with University policies and requirements;
  • ensure that all key personnel are qualified and have met the necessary training requirements;
  • manage the project’s budget so that funds are spent correctly, taking into account any restrictions imposed by the sponsor, and avoid cost overruns;
  • ensure that all financial records and reports are accurate and auditable;
  • monitor the activities of subrecipients, if any;
  • submit reports on the research in a timely manner, according to the sponsor’s requirements; and
  • complete the formal closeout of the project.

       The University recognizes that in some cases principal investigators may delegate these duties to administrative personnel, but they retain overall responsibility for the financial and administrative management of their sponsored projects.

       Questions concerning the duties of a principal investigator should be directed to SPA or to Sponsored Projects Finance in the Office of the Controller. Information on financial management of sponsored awards is also available in the Research Handbooks and through Columbia Finance.

       The principal investigator normally must be an officer of instruction with a full-time appointment in the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, or instructor, or a senior research scholar/scientist or research scholar/scientist. Faculty or officers of research holding other titles, including those in a visiting or adjunct grade, may act as co-principal investigators with faculty in one of the ranks mentioned above. However, they may not serve as the sole principal investigator without the approval of the appropriate chair and dean or executive vice president and the Provost. The Provost has delegated the authority to make such exceptions for faculty holding appointments at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center to the Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, for faculty holding appointments at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to the Director, and for faculty holding appointments elsewhere to the Executive Vice President for Research.

       Exceptions are granted only on a project-by-project basis or, in certain unusual cases, for a limited time period. Officers seeking an exception should submit a letter signed by the appropriate chair and dean or executive vice president addressed to the Provost or to one of the officers listed in the previous paragraph. The letter must include an acknowledgement that the applicable department, school, institute, or center has financial, managerial, and programmatic responsibility for the project and confirmation that appropriate non-sponsored support will be provided to cover proposal writing and other non-sponsored activities of the investigator for whom the exception is sought. The investigator’s curriculum vitae and an abstract of the project covered by the exception should accompany the letter.

       For non-sponsored research studies involving human subjects or vertebrate animals, a similar waiver request must be submitted to the Human Research Protection Office or to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee if the principal investigator does not meet the qualifications outlined above.

       A faculty member or officer of research who is a principal investigator may continue in that capacity after retirement until the expiration of the current term of funding of the sponsored project. The officer may serve as a principal investigator beyond that date only with the special permission of the appropriate designee of the Provost.

       Faculty or officers of research serving as principal investigators may not prepare or submit proposals for outside funding through another institution without first obtaining permission from the applicable chair, dean or executive vice president, and Executive Vice President for Research. Requests for exceptions should be directed to Sponsored Projects Administration. They are normally granted only in the case of collaborative projects where it is determined that Columbia should not administer the award.

Research Misconduct

       Integrity in the conduct of research and the dissemination of the results are essential to the scholarly purposes to which the University is dedicated. Unethical practices and fraud can destroy the mutual trust that exists among colleagues; undermine the relationship between faculty, officers of research, and students; severely, if not irreparably, injure the careers of associates and subordinates; damage the University; and diminish public confidence in the scholarly enterprise. In recognition of the harm academic misconduct can cause, the University Senate adopted an Institutional Policy on Misconduct in Research which applies to the entire University and covers misconduct in research involving falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism. It also defines the process by which the University promptly and fairly investigates allegations of research misconduct.

       The University’s Standing Committee on the Conduct of Research implements the policy. The Office of Research Compliance and Training administers the policy and is a resource for anyone with concerns or questions about possible research misconduct. It offers further information on the University’s policies and procedures for dealing with misconduct.

International Research

       To support international research and service, the University has established Risk Management Procedures for International Research and Service Projects and has an International Research Committee made up of faculty and senior administrators that reviews certain international research projects that might involve special risks for the University. Information on the federal laws and regulations relating to foreign asset controls, sanctions, export controls, and international boycotts is available from SPA and the Office of Research Compliance and Training.

Effort Reporting

       Federal regulations require that the effort devoted to sponsored projects is appropriately documented, and that the salaries charged are reasonable in relation to the effort devoted to those projects. Accordingly, each faculty member who receives sponsored project funding must annually certify their own effort. In addition, principal investigators must certify the effort of graduate students, postdoctoral officers, and staff funded by their projects. All effort reporting is documented in the University’s electronic certification system called ECRT (Effort Certification and Reporting Technology) which can be accessed through Columbia Finance’s Documenting Personnel Costs (Effort Reporting) page.

       Outside professional activities and interests are an accepted part of academic life. They make faculty better scholars and teachers, and thereby better equipped to serve the University. Nonetheless, the opportunities available to faculty and other officers to conduct research, engage in consulting, practice their professions, and turn their discoveries and ideas into commercial ventures create the potential for conflict between their outside interests and commitments and their responsibilities to the University. Outside professional interests and employment, whether gainful or not, must not interfere with an officer’s teaching, scholarly research, and other departmental and University duties. Even the appearance of a conflict can be injurious to both the individual officer and the University.

       The primary professional obligations of full-time faculty are to the University. They consequently may not participate in any outside activities, for or without compensation, that will absorb an undue amount of their time and thereby interfere with the performance of their University duties. Outside employment, consulting, and other interests may not require an average commitment of more than 20 percent of their time during the period in which a faculty member is expected to provide services to the University, except in the case of participants in faculty practice plans at the Irving Medical Center whose outside activities are determined by those plans.

       Depending upon the nature of the outside activity, a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment may exist even when a faculty member observes the time limit prescribed by the University’s policies, or engages in the outside activity during vacations or the summer months in the case of those serving in schools on eight- or nine-month academic calendars. This has become increasingly true in recent years as new information technologies have greatly expanded the opportunities for faculty and other members of the University community to create and disseminate their work to new audiences in new ways. Faculty may not engage in outside activities that directly compete with the mission and interests of the University or are in conflict with their University responsibilities, regardless of the time they require. Those activities may not adversely affect their independence or compromise the integrity of the University.

       Full-time faculty may not create courses, substantial parts of courses, or courseware for other educational institutions or a commercial enterprise, nor may they accept teaching assignments outside of Columbia, unless specifically authorized in advance by the Provost on the recommendation of the appropriate dean or executive vice president. This policy applies equally to courses taught in person, online, or by some other method of electronic transmittal. It does not prevent faculty from giving guest lectures at another institution or engaging in similar activities, but faculty should be sensitive to the fact that the distinction between occasional lectures, which are a normal part of academic life, and a teaching assignment, which requires prior approval, is not always clear cut. When there is any question as to whether an outside engagement falls within the range of allowable activities, a faculty member should first consult with the appropriate dean or executive vice president or with the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Prior provostial approval is also required to hold full-time positions outside of the University. Officers who wish to be the principal investigator on an externally funded award that is administered by another institution need the prior authorization of the Executive Vice President for Research.

       Outside activities must not conflict with the University’s patent and copyright policies. Intellectual property rights in the patentable inventions and discoveries, and any associated technology, of its officers generally vest in the University if they result primarily from the use of its facilities or from work while engaged in its service. The University claims copyright ownership to works of authorship by its faculty and officers of research in more limited circumstances, as defined by its Copyright Policy, primarily when the works are created with substantial use of University resources or are commissioned for use by the University.

       Faculty and officers of research may not engage in consulting activity involving any technology in which the University has rights, or involving University work that seems likely to give rise to such technology, on terms that vest control of it in a commercial enterprise, without the prior approval of Columbia Technology Ventures. Faculty and officers may not divert University materials, supplies, facilities, or personnel to support outside consulting assignments. Finally, they should avoid entering into consulting agreements that could give rise to overlapping intellectual property claims by both the University and the sponsoring entity.

       The responsibility for recognizing and avoiding conflicts of interest rests primarily with the individual. To aid and protect all concerned, the University has put in place a number of policies and procedures. Many of these were incorporated into the Statement of University Policy on Conflicts of Interest, which was issued in 1987. In 1986, the University adopted a separate statement on the potential commercial and industrial applications of scientific and technological research. This statement provides guidelines for avoiding conflicts between the commercial opportunities arising from such research and an officer’s University responsibilities. The University’s Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest and Research promotes the objectivity of Columbia research in the context of researchers’ outside activities and financial interests. The companion Policy on Institutional Conflicts of Interest in Research similarly does so with respect to Columbia’s own financial interests and those of its officials. The Irving Medical Center also has policies that address conflicts of interest in clinical care and medical education, as described online in the Conflict of Interest Policy on Education, Clinical Care, and Administration for Faculty and Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

       To monitor for conflicts of interest and provide guidance regarding specific activities, the University requires all faculty to file an annual disclosure statement of their outside financial interests and activities, including all appointments and affiliations with institutions of higher education, academic medical centers, and research institutes, whether paid, unpaid or honorary. Faculty also must disclose all roles on prime awards to institutions other than Columbia, such as co-principal investigator or co-investigator (this does not apply to roles on incoming subawards and subcontracts from another institution to Columbia). All full-time officers of instruction, including tenured and tenure-track faculty, professors of professional practice, lecturers, lecturers in [discipline], and lecturers at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center whose only responsibility is to teach, as well as all principal investigators and other individuals who conduct research, must file the disclosures. Disclosures are filed online through the University’s Rascal system.

       Broad disclosures of appointments and affiliations are required because such positions may constitute or appear to constitute competition with the University; affect an officer’s ability to carry out their duties and obligations to the University; create the risk of loss of the University’s intellectual property; and dilute the University’s academic reputation and leadership, especially when the faculty are listed as affiliates in publications or presentations. Individuals must also disclose all financial interests related to their institutional responsibilities, and not limit disclosure of financial interests to those related to research in order to help protect against reputational risk to the individuals and to the University arising from conflicts of commitment and conflicts of interest. Faculty must also confirm that their participation in outside activities complies with the University’s conflict of commitment policies with respect to time spent (up to roughly 20 percent time/one day a week) during the academic year. Subject to any summer commitments to sponsored projects or other University activities, faculty on nine-month appointments may also spend time during the summers participating in outside activities.

       Relevant deans or vice presidents, or their designees, review disclosure forms completed by officers of instruction and research for potential conflict of commitment with University, school, and departmental obligations. The Office of Research Compliance and Training initially reviews these disclosure forms for potential conflicts of interest related to Columbia research. Forms that disclose significant financial interests, as defined in the Research Conflict of Interest Policy, are reviewed by the Financial Conflict of Interest Committee, which is appointed by the Executive Vice President for Research and consists of officers of instruction and research, as well as non-voting senior officers of administration. Officers may appeal committee decisions to the Executive Vice President for Research whose determination is final. If the Office of Research Compliance and Training identifies a potential conflict of interest that does do not involve research, it refers the case to the appropriate dean or executive vice president or to the Provost whose determination is final.

       At a minimum, prior approval by the relevant chair, dean, director, or executive vice president is required for any titled and compensated appointments and affiliations with institutions of higher education, academic medical centers, or research institutes outside of Columbia. Disclosures relating to companies are generally covered by the Policy on Financial Interests and Research disclosure requirements, which include both compensated roles and special company relationships with the potential for personal financial gain. Any particular school may impose more stringent prior approval and disclosure requirements, but may not impose less stringent requirements.

       Concurrent appointments, such as with companies, research institutes, academic medical centers, or nonprofit or governmental entities, that exceed the time allowed under the University’s leave of absence policies may also pose a risk of conflict of commitment because individuals with such appointments may be unable to fulfill teaching, research, and service obligations to the University, and may prioritize the other appointment over the University. On the other hand, in some fields, access to state-of-the-art technology and data may occur only through such interactions with companies and other entities. Work in non-academic environments may afford scholarly insights and networks of value to the individual and the relevant academic units at the University. In addition, public service has broader societal benefit as well as potential benefit to the department, school, institute, or center.

       Requests for such concurrent appointments may be approved only where they benefit the University. The initial term is limited to one year and requires the approval of the department chair, director, dean, or executive vice president. The Provost, upon the recommendation of the chair, director, dean, or executive vice president, may grant a one-year extension provided that the concurrent appointment continues to benefit the University. Concurrent appointments are generally limited to two years. Any further extension is allowable only on the recommendation of a faculty committee appointed by the dean. The committee must consist of at least two members of the relevant department or equivalent unit and at least two members from outside that unit, and may include faculty from outside the school. The committee must assess the full impact of the concurrent appointment on the research, teaching, and service of the faculty member seeking the extension, and recommend whether a further extension would continue to benefit the University. The committee must provide a report of its conclusions to the relevant dean, director, or executive vice president, who will provide the report and the school’s recommendation to the Provost. The Provost will make the final decision on any further extensions. Such extensions are limited to two years after which a new review would be required for an additional extension.

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Updated November 17, 2022