Learning Through Research

CUR Officers’ Duties and Expectations and Conflict of Interest Policy

CUR Officers' Duties and Expectations and Conflict of Interest Policy

June 17, 2002

The Council on Undergraduate Research, in order to maintain high ethical standards, protect individual volunteers, and prevent misunderstandings, has developed a statement of duties and expectations and has established a conflict of interest policy to guide the relationship between individuals and the CUR organization. This policy applies to members of the CUR Executive Board and Council, and as appropriate, to all CUR volunteers. 
Duties and Expectations of CUR Executive Board and Council Members
Every volunteer leader of a not-for-profit organization enters into a compact with the organization to provide the very best service he or she can, by exercising a duty of care, a duty of loyalty, and a duty of obedience. 
Duty of Care: Board members and councilors are expected to exercise prudence in their decision-making on behalf of the organization. They should attend board/Council meetings regularly, stay informed about organizational activities, rely on trustworthy sources of information, perform duties as assigned or volunteered in a timely manner, and generally assume responsibility for the welfare of the organization.
Duty of Loyalty: Board and council members are expected to give undivided allegiance to CUR when making decisions affecting the organization. Individual leaders must not put personal interests (including associated business interests) above the interests of the organization. Board and council members are not to use the organization's property or information resources for personal purposes. 
Board members, their families, and their home institutions/businesses can have business dealings with CUR. However, any such proposed transactions are to be fully disclosed before any discussion or negotiation of such transactions, and approval should rest with a disinterested majority, excluding the self-interested board member. The self-interested board member should not participate in the discussion leading to the vote, except to provide necessary information upon request of the other board members. All such dealings must be fair relative to price and service available to the organization elsewhere.
Duty of Obedience: Board and council members have a duty to ensure that CUR remains obedient to its central purposes as described in the Constitution and Bylaws and mission statement. However, board and council members may exercise reasonable judgment concerning how CUR can best fulfill its mission. 
If there is a controversial event or legal incident involving CUR that requires release of a public statement, the CUR President will be responsible for releasing that statement after its having been approved by the Executive Board. Individual board and council members will not make unauthorized public statements that appear to speak for the organization.
Specific duties of the board and council members are published on the CUR website.
Conflict of Interest Policy
  1. All dealings by which individuals engage in CUR official activities for pay (e.g., stipends for work on grants or authorship) will be a part of the public records of CUR. The purpose of the payment will be clearly stated and work performed will be documented. CUR members are expected to report such income to the IRS as required by law.
  2. The CUR Executive Board may engage fellow board members to perform services for the organization that would ordinarily be obtained from outside sources (accountants, lawyers, publishers, computer experts, financial advisors, etc.), but the bidder is subject to the same standards of competitive bid and review that obtain under ordinary circumstances. CUR will endeavor to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest; it will hire its own for professional services only under the circumstance when there is compelling reason to do so and all potential for conflict and hard feelings have been explored and are understood by all parties. In such circumstances, a written contract detailing expectations will be signed by the CUR President and individual involved, and filed with the National Office. 
  3. CUR board and council members will report any personal interest that they or their immediate family members have in CUR business, and will recuse themselves from debating and voting upon issues where there is such an interest.
  4. CUR members are members of many other groups, some of which may be in competition with CUR under some circumstances such as in the preparation of funding proposals. CUR councilors and board members will honor appropriate confidentiality of CUR internal workings with respect to other organizations. Present CUR Councilors and board members (and those seeking election to these bodies) will divulge any potential or current conflict of interest that they have with respect to other organizations. CUR leaders serve for the purpose of promoting the interests of CUR, and pledge to use confidential information that they receive while serving CUR only for that purpose. Internal meeting notes, grant proposals, and other sensitive information will remain within the CUR organization and not be shared externally.

In order to ensure that all CUR board members and councilors understand their duties and obligations to the organization, they are asked to review this statement annually. If at any time during the year, issues arise in which they feel there may be a conflict of interest, board or council members will announce this conflict to the CUR Executive Board, which will resolve any actual or potential conflicts. In many cases, no action beyond simply informing of the conflict is necessary. In other cases, a person may decline to participate in a vote or discussion. In more extreme cases, a person may feel that he or she can no longer continue in service to CUR because of a more permanent conflicting duty or responsibility.
In addition to this document, please refer to CUR's policies manual.