AUCCCD Conflict of Interest Policy Update

As you may have heard, the AUCCCD Board is developing a conflict of interest policy, borne from the growth of our association and the vendor industry surrounding our work - not to mention, it is an ethical best practice for all association boards.  I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some insight into our process and also answer some questions that have come in during the comment period.

First, I contacted my counterparts at several other higher ed organizations for templates of their policies to help us benchmark how they define conflicts.  Next, we consulted with our association attorney, Tiffany Releford, to educate the board on the nature of conflicts in nonprofit boards.  Then, at our mid-year board meeting in March, the board discussed high level concepts and details they felt strongly should be in the policy.  I then drafted a policy for board review and comment, one more review by legal, then we sent it to membership for comment.  Lastly, we provided town halls for members to ask questions and to obtain additional feedback.

We received some great suggestions and made additional changes to the policy to refine the final form.  We also received questions that we thought would be helpful to answer here.

Q: Who is the Administrative Committee?

A: Per our bylaws, the Administrative Committee is composed of the President, President-Elect OR Past-President (depending on the year), Secretary, Treasurer and Executive Director (The Secretary and Executive Director are ex-officio members of the Administrative Committee, meaning, we have no official vote).  This committee actually meets monthly between board meetings and is charged with transacting business, reportable to the full Board of Directors.  This committee will also review conflict of interest forms for all candidates running for elected positions, or serving in committee roles.  Should someone have a conflict that is over the threshold, the full board will review and make a final determination or recommendation.

Q:  When does the policy begin?

A:  Immediately upon adoption.  Current and future board members, committee chairs and committee members will need to complete the form and follow the policy.  The conflict of interest forms will need to be updated at least annually, if a change in conflict occurs at any time, and when a member runs or is appointed to a board position, committee chair or committee member role.

One important note that our legal counsel stressed to us is that the policy should be intended to encourage members to disclose, not to penalize them for having outside relationships.  There are, of course, some relationships that will bar them from serving in some roles, but the goal is disclosure.  Conflict of interests do not always bar someone from serving so long as they disclose, they recuse themselves from certain discussions and they practice a duty of loyalty to the AUCCCD Board.

Should you have any questions about the policy, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]
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