Examples in Employment (Nepotism)

A "conflict of interest" in a university setting generally refers to situations in which the external interests of a university employee have the potential to influence their decisions in their university role. The influence is generally in ways that could lead to personal gain (financial or non-financial) for the individual or immediate family members.

Persons involved in the hiring, supervision, and/or evaluation of employees must be particularly careful to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest related to employment. Conflicts of interest related to the hiring, supervision and/or evaluation of relatives are governed by university policies on nepotism.

These examples are intended to give an idea of the range of situations that might occur. They are not inclusive of all possible situations that could be or could be perceived to be conflicts of interest and commitment.

Situation: An ISU employee is serving on the search committee to hire a new person into their department. Their spouse applies for the position.

Why could this be perceived to be a conflict of interest? Because of their service on the search committee, the ISU employee is in a position to influence the hiring decision.

What should the employee do? The employee should step down from the committee, or, at a minimum, recuse themselves from the hiring decision.

Situation: Two single ISU employees in the same department or unit get married. After several years, one of them is promoted to department chair or unit director and thus has control over the employment status and salary increases of the other.

Why could this be perceived to be a conflict of interest? Iowa code prohibits state employees from engaging in nepotism, that is, the employment or supervision of one family member by another family member.

What should the employee do? The employee should discuss the situation with their supervisor, University Human Resources (for staff) or the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost (for faculty). In general, such situations are resolved by transferring all evaluation and salary decisions regarding the supervised employee to the supervisor's supervisor or to another unit.