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UNL Guide to Outside Activity for Faculty and Academic Employees

May I consult with outside entities?

Yes. Pursuant to Board of Regents Bylaw 3.4.5, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln encourages faculty to engage in professional activities outside the University as a means of contributing to the economic growth and development of the state, as well as broadening their experience and keeping them abreast of the latest developments in their specialized fields, provided such activities do not interfere with their regular duties at the University or represent a conflict of interest. Faculty may accept temporary or occasional employment for professional services when such employment is recommended by the Dean of the college or director of the division involved and approved by the Chancellor or President, or their designees.

Specific approval of the Board is required before any members of the full-time professional staff:
(a) May be retained to provide professional services outside the University to an individual person, client, company, firm or governmental agency over a time period lasting more than two years.

(b) May accept professional employment requiring more than an average of two days per month during the period of his or her full-time University employment.

How often may I consult?

During the time of your university employment as full-time faculty or staff, you may provide professional consultation for no more than an average of two days per month and you may provide these professional services outside the university to an individual client over a period of no longer than two years without seeking approval from the Board of Regents as part of your university duties. Board of Regents approval is required for any outside consulting of more than two days per month or for a period that exceeds two years. If the consultation requires more extensive effort on the part of the faculty (either consulting of more time than 2 days per month or for a longer period of time that exceeds 2 years), the percentage of faculty effort that is supported financially by the university typically is reduced by request to the unit director/chair/head and college Dean by completing the Authorization to Engage in Outside Professional Activity.

What do I need to do to report and get permission for outside activities?

The Board of Regents By-Laws on Outside Activities Policy requires that all full-time professional staff members of the university complete an application for Authorization to Engage in Outside Professional Activity and obtain approval by the unit director/head/chair and Dean before the outside activity is begun.
This form is available at: http://www.unl.edu/svcaa/policies/outside_activity.shtml

If the outside activity requires more than two days per month or will last longer than two years, Board of Regents approval is required in addition that of the unit and college prior to commencement of the outside activity and typically the amount of faculty effort supported financially by the university will be reduced.

What is a consulting agreement?

Generally, consultants should have an agreement in place that clearly defines the technical scope, intellectual property commitments (if any), and financial terms of the consulting activity. This agreement is a personal one between you, the consultant, and the outside entity for whom you are consulting. UNL is not a party to any such agreements. You are personally responsible for ensuring that the agreement is consistent with your university employment obligations.

In order to clarify as much as possible the nature and scope of activities faculty may be called upon to perform in consultation with industry, faculty are strongly encouraged to attach to all consulting agreements an addendum summarizing UNL policies governing outside employment (Addendum to Faculty Consulting Agreement) – even those agreements involving commitments of less than 2 days a month.

If the consulting arrangement is not formalized through a written agreement, the addendum should be modified accordingly and dated and signed by a company representative and the faculty member.

As a service to faculty, NUtech Ventures (472-1783) is happy to provide advice as to whether your personal consulting agreement is consistent with the university’s intellectual property policies. Your unit director/head/chair is often the best source of advice regarding your faculty effort commitments, and UNL Research Compliance Services also can provide assistance (472-6965). Because outside activity by definition is outside of the university, if you have other questions about consulting contracts, you should seek the services of a qualified personal attorney for formal legal advice.

What do I need to do to ensure my consulting activities do not conflict with my university obligations?

Any external commitments which burden or interfere with your primary obligations and commitments to the University are to be avoided. Accordingly, the outside consulting agreement between you and the outside entity should include a scope of work that clearly describes your duties for the outside activity, and should specify the business interests of the company and distinguish the outside activity from relevant ongoing University activities in which the faculty member is engaged.

Because outside activity can overlap with the conduct of university research, the UNL Conflict of Interest in Research Policy has been developed to identify and manage any potential conflicts of interests in the conduct of research. All employees involved in sponsored research are required to complete a Confidential Disclosure of Interest form annually, as well as before initiation of any research sponsored by non-university or federal sources (i.e., private industry). The Disclosure of Interest form is available via NUgrant.

This Disclosure of Interest form is reviewed internally by the Director of Research Compliance Services to determine whether and what type of management is required to reduce, eliminate or manage any potential conflicts of interest as required by university policy and federal regulation. Please see the Research Responsibility website for more information.

Does the university approve consulting agreements?

No. Consulting agreements are between you, the consultant, and the outside entity. Therefore, you are not required to gain approval. However, faculty are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from NUtech Ventures the sponsored programs staff person for their college, the unit director/head/chair, and the Director of Research Compliance Services in negotiating consulting agreements.

What are my intellectual property obligations while consulting?

University employees, including faculty, postdocs, and graduate students are obligated to disclose to the university all inventions and discoveries, including those made in the course of outside professional activity. Generally, all inventions and discoveries arising from activities that fall within the scope of their UNL employment or utilize university resources must be assigned to the university. Please contact NUtech Ventures (472-1873) if you have questions or need further assistance.