Carnegie Mellon University

Consulting by Faculty


Carnegie Mellon University Policy on Consulting by Faculty


This policy was originally issued by the Office of the President on February 23, 1990, as Organization Announcement No. 321. It also appears in the current issue of the Faculty Handbook.


Office of the Provost. Questions on policy content should be directed to the Office of the Provost at 412-268-3260.


Pertains to consulting by tenure-track and research faculty. Defines procedures to avoid ethical and legal conflicts of interest and to ensure that consulting does not conflict with the proper discharge of university responsibilities.


Policy Statement

This policy pertains to consulting by tenure-track and research faculty (as defined in the Policy on Research Faculty Appointments, available in the Faculty Handbook) at Carnegie Mellon.

The university believes that its educational program, and effective teaching in all its aspects, can flourish only when sustained by continuous, active participation of its faculty in research, enriched in many cases by interaction with industry, artistic organizations, business, government, and other activities and institutions of our society.

This interaction is of greatest value when it contributes significantly to the public welfare, offers an opportunity for professional challenge and growth, or otherwise enhances the effectiveness of a faculty member's service to the university.

Interaction can come in many forms, one of which is consulting. Consulting includes those professional activities related to the faculty member's discipline for which remuneration (beyond a nominal honorarium or reimbursement for expenses) is received.

The potential magnitude of outside professional activity, particularly when it entails consulting, is such that orderly procedures must be followed to avoid ethical and legal conflicts of interest and to ensure that such activity does not conflict with the proper discharge of university responsibilities. Essential to the effectiveness of such procedures is complete disclosure of outside professional activities.


Liaison between the head of a department and faculty members is the principal means of communication and disclosure in matters involving outside professional activities. It is the obligation of faculty members to keep their department heads continually informed in adequate detail as to all outside professional activities, service on external committees, and other special assignments.

Standards and Criteria

Personal responsibility, integrity, and high ethical standards are the principal factors in avoiding conflicts of interest. The university expects that all members of faculty will conduct their outside activities in a manner which reflects credit on themselves, their profession, and the university without need for specific criteria or rules of conduct. The principal safeguards against abuse include the standards required by professional colleagues and the rigorous process by which the university evaluates and selects individuals for appointment and promotion.

Full-Time Service

The obligation inherent in full-time service is difficult to define, since in academic life it means far more than a stated number of hours per week. In a context in which the faculty member has substantial freedom in arranging his or her professional life, it implies an overriding interest, loyalty, and first responsibility to the university. This obligation, therefore, must be defined qualitatively, depending on principle rather than formula.

The university has traditionally granted full-time members of the tenure-track faculty the right to devote up to an average of one day (of university time) per week to outside, paid, professional activities, where that activity is consistent with that person's role as a member of the faculty and where that activity also enhances the contribution of the faculty member to the university. Such activity benefits both the faculty member and the university. This document extends this traditional consulting privilege of tenure-track faculty to research faculty.

The faculty member in participating in such activities must accept the responsibility to arrange his or her work so that during the academic year (and summer, if on salary) the faculty member will devote the appropriate amount of time to activities connected with the primary appointment. In particular, when effort is expended on sponsored research contracts, the faculty person must be aware that, if the effort is 100 percent, the intent of the sponsor is that 100 percent of effort is equivalent to five days of work per week. Thus, consulting activities that occur while being paid 100 percent from research contracts would be in addition to five days of work per week. It follows similarly with other levels of effort, e.g., if 80 percent of effort is on research contracts, the expectation is that four days of work per week will be devoted to those research contracts. It is the responsibility of faculty to ascertain whether their commitment to sponsored research leaves time for consulting. For purposes of accounting, it is to be understood that this standard will be applied, on average, over each three-month period of the academic year and over each month of the summer.