Conflict of Interest Policy

Faculty Senate Committee on Student and Faculty Honors
Approved 3/21/03; Emended 5/12/06.

General statement:

It is to be expected that committee members will often know and work with some of the nominees and will sometimes be nominated for the awards they were appointed to administer. Real and perceived conflicts of interest are, therefore, inevitable. The committee’s task is to minimize any possibility of their affecting the awards process, either in fact or public perception. The committee can minimize that possibility by (a) making all potential conflicts known within the committee, (b) following procedures designed to minimize the operation of any conflicts of interest in the awards process, and (c) making those operating procedures generally known. Just as conflicts of interest must be expected, so must the fair and honest intent of the committee. Its size, composition, and tradition of diligence and integrity all warrant faith that it will discharge its duties fairly and effectively.



1. Declarations: All members will declare all potential conflicts of interest, real or perceived, to the committee.

2. Screening nominations: The chair takes this information into consideration when assigning nominations for screening. Feasibility requires that the chair distinguish between strong and weak conflicts. Strong conflicts involve, for example, nominations of oneself, a relative, mentor, or close friend. Weak conflicts involve, for example, nominations of fellow department members or past instructors.

  • All nominations will be screened by at least two committee members. There will typically be five or six screening teams, owing to the large number of nominations.
  • No member will screen nominations where they have strong conflicts.
  • If there is a relatively small number of nominations for an award, potential finalists for that award will not screen any nominations for it.
  • The chair will avoid, to the extent feasible, assigning nominations to a team where that creates weak potential conflicts for its members. First priority for avoidance will be given when nominees have received at least two or three nominations. Where weak conflicts cannot be feasibly avoided, the second member of each screening team will pay special attention to the nominations for which the other team member has declared a potential conflict (e.g., is in the same department).

3. Selecting awardees: Circumstances vary greatly from year to year, so the committee will, therefore, use its best judgment to decide who should recuse themselves from discussing particular finalists or voting among them. In general, however,

  • Any committee member who has a strong conflict of interest with any of the nominees put forward as a finalist will recuse him/herself from further deliberations for that award.