Administrative Policies

AD77 Engaging in Outside Professional Activities (Conflict of Commitment)

Policy Status: 

Under Review

Subject Matter Expert: 

Kathy Bieschke, 814-863-7494,

Policy Steward: 

Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff


  • Purpose
  • Policy
  • Further Information
  • Cross References

    To set forth policies and principles that permit University employees to engage in activities outside the University while preserving their primary professional duties and responsibilities to the University. 

    University employees are encouraged to engage in outside activities when such activities enhance the mission of the University and do not compete with the University.  Examples of outside activities that enhance the University’s mission include the following: serving on a peer review boards, serving as a referee for a scholarly journal, attending or presenting at a professional meeting, visiting other sites in connection with accreditation/audits, etc.  Employees’ primary professional duties and responsibilities are to the University, and such primary obligations require that employees be available and accessible to fulfill the obligations of their appointment.  Outside activities shall not adversely affect the University’s interests or mission, or require a significant commitment of time, that interferes with an employee’s primary University responsibilities, or competes with coursework or services provided by the University. This policy shall not be interpreted to interfere with any faculty member's academic freedom (as defined in AC64, Academic Freedom), including his or her freedom to criticize University policies and decisions.


    • University resources shall be used only for their intended University purpose (see Penn State Policy FN14 – Use of University Tangible Assets, Equipment, Supplies, and Services).  Use of University resources beyond incidental use requires advance permission and the University shall be appropriately reimbursed.
    • The University reserves the right to determine whether outside activities adversely affect the University mission.  This provision applies throughout the calendar year, irrespective of the actual appointment period and subject to the discretion of the University.
    • The University maintains a process for approval and oversight of outside activities such as faculty consulting (up to an equivalent of four (4) days per month, for a maximum of forty (40) hours per month, during the duration of his/her appointment period per Penn State Policy AC80 - Private Consulting Practice).  Individuals who perform outside consulting shall not use University stationery or their University address (physical or electronic).  Penn State Policy AC80 describes the process for obtaining prior approval for private consulting.
    • A disclosure is required for investigators when consulting or other outside activities reach certain thresholds as defined in Penn State Policy RP06 –Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interests (formerly Individual Conflict of Interest).   Penn State Policy RP06 describes the process and procedures for submitting a disclosure.
    • Each College/Unit must promulgate its own set of Guidelines for the implementation of AD77. These guidelines should, at a minimum, identify a representative set of teaching activities that do, and do not, require approval from the Budget Administrator and Budget Executive. They may also:
      • identify types of teaching activity that require approval only from a Dean or Department Chair
      • identify specific teaching activity that will not be approved under any circumstances
      • provide other clarifications the College deems appropriate.

      Care should be taken to ensure that its guidelines are consistent with AC64, Academic Freedom. The Policy Steward for AD77 should maintain a single website displaying each College's current Guidelines for the Implementation of AD77.

    • University employees are prohibited from teaching at another institution in a manner inconsistent with their College's Guidelines for the Implementation of AD77 unless prior written approval is obtained from the Budget Administrator and Budget Executive.  Courses (resident or online) taught at another institution must not compete with coursework offered by the University.  For purposes of this Policy, there is no distinction between resident or online teaching.
    • Employees must comply with all applicable University policies or regulations including, but not limited to, policies or regulations related to intellectual property, conflict of interest, private consulting, use of University’s name or its resources, etc.; related to their employment when participating in outside activities.

    The above policies and principles are to be used when interpreting and applying other existing University policies related to conflicts of interests and ethical behavioral.  Questions on whether an outside activity constitutes a conflict of commitment should be directed to the individual’s Dean or the next highest level of authority.  For additional information, please refer to


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.


    AC80 – Private Consulting Practice

    AD07 - Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices

    AD47 - General Standards of Professional Ethics

    FN14– Use of University Tangible Assets, Equipment, Supplies and Service

    HR35 - Public Service by Members of the Faculty and Staff

    HR42 - Payment of Personal Compensation by a State Agency or Department of the Commonwealth.

    HR91 - Conflict of Interest

    IP06 - Technology Transfer & Entrepreneurial Activity (Faculty Research)

    RP06 - Disclosure and Management of Significant Financial Interests (Formerly RA20, Individual Conflict of Interest)

    Most Recent Changes:

    • February 11, 2021 - Editorial Change. Reference to HR64 changed to AC64.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • January 2, 2018 - Editorial Change. Reference to HR80 changed to AC80.
    • May 7, 2018 - Editoral change. Reference to RA12 changed to IP06.
    • November 13, 2017 - Editorial change. Reference to RA20 changed to RP06.

    • July 27, 2015 - The PURPOSE and POLICY sections have been updated to clarify guidelines for handling such outside activities.

    • August 21, 2014 - Editorial changes. In the CROSS REFERENCES section, reference to Policy AD07, Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices, has been added. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.
    • January 3, 2014 - Editorial change in CROSS REFERENCES section. RA10, Addressing Allegations of Research Misconduct [formerly Handling Inquiries/Investigations Into Questions of Ethics in Research and in Other Scholarly Activities], has been removed. Revisions to RA10 make it no longer applicable to this particular policy as a cross reference.
    • February 22, 2013 - New policy.


    Date Approved: 

    July 27, 2015

    Date Published: 

    July 27, 2015

    Effective Date: 

    July 27, 2015