Policy Statement

Participation by full-time Emerson faculty members in activities of government, industry, and other organizations generally serves the academic interests of the College. As a result of such activities, Emerson benefits from the dissemination of knowledge and technology developed within the College, and students benefit from experiences the faculty brings to the classroom. Moreover, the College may indirectly share the professional experience and recognition that such participation brings to the faculty member. Engagement in Outside Paid Professional Activities by a faculty member, however, does not constitute a reduction in their normal obligations to the College. The faculty member must strive to maintain a manageable balance between these obligations, and to avoid potential conflicts of interest or conflicts of commitment.

Reason for This Policy

This policy establishes guidelines for Outside Paid Professional Activities, external to the College, that are undertaken during the Academic Year by full-time tenured, tenure-track, and term faculty members. This policy also establishes indicators of Outside Paid Professional Activities that may conflict with the faculty member’s responsibilities to the College, and outlines processes for managing such conflicts.  Full-time faculty who are receiving pay in connection with an approved Sabbatical or Professional Leave, as defined in Section 13 of the Emerson College Faculty Handbook, will not be in violation of this policy.


Conflict of Commitment

A situation in which a faculty member’s time and effort devoted to outside professional activities interferes with the faculty member’s fulfillment of their commitments to the College.

Conflict of Interest

A situation in which a faculty member’s impartiality and/or motivation may be compromised due to a conflict between multiple interests and/or obligations.

Faculty Duties/Obligations

The responsibilities of a full-time tenured, tenure-track, or term faculty member of Emerson College, as defined in the Emerson College Faculty Handbook.

Outside Paid Professional Activities

Activities outside of a faculty member’s commitments to Emerson College that utilize the faculty member’s academic expertise through interactions with commercial entities, other educational institutions, private foundations, governmental agencies, or the general public, for which a faculty member is paid. These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • consulting or advising for-profit or non-profit entities;
  • service to governmental agencies and boards such as peer review panels and advisory bodies to other universities;
  • presentations to either professional or public audiences in such forums as professional societies, libraries, and other universities;
  • media commentary or media consulting;
  • advertising, marketing, or promotion of a product or service; and
  • peer review activities undertaken for either for-profit or non-profit publishers.

Paid outside professional activities that reflect normal and expected public service or research/creative scholarship activities of faculty, and that do not entail compensation beyond reimbursement for expenses and/or a nominal honorarium, are not subject to this policy.

Statements of Elaboration of the Policy

I. Time Limitations on Outside Paid Professional Activities

A. The disruption of Faculty Duties/Obligations –including teaching activities, College-supported scholarly and creative work, or service to the College— due to Outside Paid Professional Activities is not permitted. Whenever there is a Conflict of Commitment between the Faculty Duties/Obligations and their Outside Paid Professional Activities, the Faculty Duties/Obligations shall take precedence.

B. Because much of the creative scholarship of Emerson faculty is generated via activities conducted outside of their obligations to Emerson College, the College does not place strict limitations on the amount of time faculty devote to Outside Paid Professional Activities. As a general rule, a full time faculty member’s Outside Paid Professional Activities should not exceed the equivalent of one day in a five business-day week during the academic year. This limitation serves as a guiding principle and not a firm restriction. Outside Paid Professional Activities conducted during the summer months, and during times in the academic year that are not committed to teaching, advising, committee work, service, or College-supported scholarly work, are not subject to the one-day per five-day week time limitation.

II. Other Limitations on Outside Paid Professional Activities

A. Full-time tenured, tenure-track, or Term faculty members may not teach at other academic colleges or universities during the academic year.  The fundamental responsibilities of teaching include the instruction, evaluation and advising of Emerson students.  The faculty member may participate as an occasional guest lecturer during the academic year so long as this does not interfere with their ability to fulfill their Faculty Duties/Obligations.

B. Notwithstanding the College’s Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policy, a faculty member should not use the facilities and resources of the College in the conduct of Outside Paid Professional Activities. This includes, but is not limited to: secretarial or administrative assistance, College staff time, phones, office equipment, and computer services.  So long as an Outside Paid Professional Activity does not interfere with Faculty Duties/Obligations or College operations, a faculty member may make limited use of their office for Outside Paid Professional Activities.

C. Faculty may not, in connection with Outside Paid Professional Activities, use the College name or the fact that they are affiliated with the College in a manner that:

  1. Suggests that the College approves or disapproves of a product or service provided by the faculty member, a for-profit, non-profit or governmental entity; or
  2. Suggests that the College has performed such work when it has not done so; or
  3. May be interpreted to communicate the official position of the College on any issue of public interest.

D. Faculty may not use College, nor the College’s registered and copyrighted trademarks and service marks, in connection with Outside Paid Professional Activities.

E. Faculty are personally responsible for any damages or claims for damages which may arise in connection with their Outside Paid Professional Activities.

III. Conflict of Commitment

A. A conflict of commitment occurs when a faculty member’s involvement in Outside Paid Professional Activities substantially interferes with his or her teaching, research, or service activities for the College.  This definition of Conflict of Commitment is consistent with Section 12.3.2 of the Emerson College/ECCAAUP Collective Bargaining Agreement. An example of a of Conflict of Commitment may be, but not limited to, a commitment of time to Outside Paid Professional Activities during a faculty member’s scheduled classes, office hours, or service committee meetings.

If a faculty member engages in, or proposes to engage in, and any activity that creates a Conflict of Commitment, the activity must be promptly disclosed in writing to the cognizant Dean, Department Chair, or other independent responsible authority of the College, and the appropriate authorized approval must be obtained before the activity can continue. The faculty member may appeal any such decision to the Chief Academic Officer, with the understanding that the decision of the Chief Academic Office is final, and not subject to any arbitration or grievance.

IV. Conflict of Interest

A. In accordance with the College’s Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policy, a faculty member must strive to ensure that Outside Paid Professional Activities do not create, or create the appearance of, a conflict between their interests in the outside activity and the interests of the College. Examples of such conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to:

  1. Using College resources (including facilities, staff or student time, computers, and phones) for business or commercial use, or for potential personal financial gain;
  2. Using the College name or marks to endorse a product or service;
  3. Allowing an outside interest to influence a faculty member’s decision-making or conduct in regards to their faculty duties

If a faculty member’s Outside Paid Professional activities might lead an independent observer reasonably to question whether the faculty member’s conduct on behalf of the College is influenced by those activities, the faculty member should promptly take the following actions:

  1. Disclose fully in writing the precise nature of the faculty member’s interest in the activity, as it pertains to the College, to the cognizant Dean, Department Chair, or other independent responsible authority; and
  2. Refrain from participation (including acting individually or as a member of a committee or other group) in the College's consideration of, or participation in, any such activity unless expressly permitted to do so by a responsible authority of the College.

In the event the faculty member’s participation in the activity is disapproved by the responsible authority, the faculty member may appeal any such decision to the Chief Academic Officer, with the understanding that the decision of the Chief Academic Office is final, and not subject to arbitration or grievance.

Cross References to Related Policies

Key Office to Contact Regarding this Policy and Its Implementation

Links to Procedures and Forms