Professional Issues


5.6.1  Institutional Review Board    Any generalizable research involving human subjects by a member of the campus community (faculty, students, staff) must, by federal and state regulations, be reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The role of the IRB is to ensure that such research conducted at the University meets current standards and mandates regarding the ethical treatment of research participants.  The University’s IRB Manual of Policies and Procedures provides details about the policies and procedures that apply to human subjects research at the University, and is available at

5.6.2  Outside Employment and Consulting    

When hiring a faculty member in a full-time instructional position, the University presumes that it has full claim upon the working time and professional energies of the individual for his or her teaching and for other University-related activities. Accordingly, outside professional activities must clearly be subordinated to and must not interfere with the individual’s obligations to the University. Outside or other employment (defined as a faculty member’s engagement with financial gain in any job, private business, or the conduct of any profession, other than University business, during the contract year) may be sought out and entered into by faculty members, provided that (1) the employment does not interfere with the individual’s assigned duties and obligations to the University, and (2) the employment does not constitute a conflict of interest (see §5.6.4). To protect the faculty member  from possible criticism regarding conflicts of interest, a written request for approval prior to taking long-term (e.g. one semester or more) outside employment must be submitted to and approved by the department chair and the dean. Notice of such approval will be given by the return to the faculty member of a signed and dated copy of the written request with a copy to the Provost. Colleges may establish additional procedures, consistent with this policy and standards of their disciplines, regarding engagement in and reporting of outside employment. Conditions Governing Outside Employment and Consulting Activities    Consulting arrangements may be sought out and entered into by faculty mem­bers, provided that: (a) the assistance provided is not part of their normal responsibility to the University; (b) the work undertaken contributes to their professional development or provides valuable service to the University or the community; (c) University resources and facilities are not involved (see §; and (d) annual statements regarding consulting arrangements are included with the FAARs.  Faculty members engaged in approved paid outside activities other than consulting shall attach statements to their Faculty Annual Activities Reports (FAARs) each year (see §§6.3 and 6.5), indicating both the amount of normal working time allocated to the outside activities and the names of the employers.  Use of University Resources in Connection with Outside Employment and Consulting Activities    Faculty members are not allowed to use University resources in conjunction with consulting or otherwise for private gain.  Also, when a faculty member is engaged in authorized con­sulting activities, the consulting employer may not enter into a parallel agreement to use University resources for any purpose related to the consulting activity.  Instead, when significant resources of the University are required, the employer may request that an agreement, grant, or contract be drawn with the University that provides the necessary services, including personnel services, as a sponsored project (see §5.5.7, External Grants). The faculty member involved then carries out duties attendant on the agreement as part of his or her assigned duties.  Because library facilities are made available to the public, their use by faculty engaged in consulting activity is not regarded as being in con­travention of this policy.

5.6.3  Testifying as an Expert Witness    When a faculty member testifies as an expert witness, the following conditions apply:

• A disclaimer is given in court indicating that the faculty member is speaking as a professional and not as a representative of the University.

• When a faculty member is under subpoena, the University civil leave policies apply (see §3.13.6).

• A faculty member may not testify in civil suits involving the Commonwealth of Virginia, except under subpoena.

5.6.4 Conflict of Interest    A conflict of interest occurs when a faculty member engages in self-dealing or in other activities which prevent him or her from exercising independent judgment in the best interests of the University and the Commonwealth.  Faculty are to avoid participation in activities that create an actual or potential conflict of interest.  (See §3.11 for additional details.)  Faculty members should avoid being placed in a position of authority over their spouses, intimate partners, immediate family members or relatives concerning their teaching, research and advising assignments.  In the event that avoidance of such conflict would be unfair to the student, the faculty member must disclose the matter to the department chair, who will oversee the evaluation process of the student.  If the faculty member in question is the department chair, the Dean will oversee the evaluation process.

5.6.5  Policies Addressing Textbook Sales and Bookstores    The Code of Virginia §23-4.3:1 states that no employee at a Virginia public college or university shall demand or receive any payment, loan, subscription, advance, deposit of money, services or anything, present or promised, as an inducement for requiring students to purchase a specific textbook required for coursework or instruction; with the exception that the employee may receive (i) sample copies, instructor’s copies, or instructional material, not to be sold; and (ii) royalties or other compensation from sales of textbooks that include such instructor’s own writing or work.