Educational Materials Conflict of Interest: Twin Cities, Crookston, Morris, Rochester

Responsible Officer
Rachel Croson
Executive Vice President and Provost
Robert McMaster
Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education
Scott Lanyon
Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education
Primary Contact
Jessica Kuecker Grotjohn
Toni Abts
Last Revised
Effective Date

Policy Statement

General Provisions

The principal criterion for the choice of any required materials for a course or program should be that the materials are the most appropriate for the purpose. The instructor who has been assigned responsibility for the course or program, in most cases, identifies what materials are required for the course.  The process for selecting course materials must avoid conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest.

Generally, no member of the instructional staff of the University may personally profit from the assignment of materials, or assignment of the venue of purchase of materials, to students in classes or any other instructional setting at the University.  If the faculty member responsible for a course or program judges that the best materials available for use with the course are materials whose sale will provide them personal income, the faculty member must receive approval from the head of the academic unit.

Review and Approval

The instructional staff  member must justify the requirement to use the materials in the course in their request for approval to the head of the academic unit.

The head of the academic unit should judge the request solely on the academic merit of the materials. The decision to approve the request should typically include a consultative step with faculty peers knowledgeable about the use of the materials.  If the head of the academic unit is also involved in the use of these materials, the dean of the college must give the written approval.

The approval, if given, will apply to all offerings of the course for which the affected individual is responsible during the twelve-month period following the approval date.

If the individual wishes to assign the same materials, or other materials created by that individual for courses occurring after the twelve-month period lapses, a new request for approval must be submitted to the head of the academic unit.


The unit must retain the request and the subsequent decision, as well as file a copy of the record of the approval with the dean of the college.


This policy is not applicable to the Duluth campus.

Reason for Policy

To manage conflict of interest concerns, persons teaching courses may not by themselves make the decision to assign course materials for which they could personally earn a profit. Requiring approval from a higher level provides appropriate internal controls.




Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is meant by ‘materials’?

    Materials refers to anything that may have been developed by or be the intellectual property of an instructor, including but not limited to textbooks, reading packets or materials, models, computer programs, artwork, etc.


Subject Contact Phone Fax/Email
Primary Contact(s) Jessica Kuecker Grotjohn (undergraduate)
Toni Abts (graduate)
[email protected]
[email protected]
Crookston Campus Jason Tangquist 218-281-8424 [email protected]
Morris Campus Peh Ng 320-589-6015 [email protected]
Rochester Campus Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain 507-258-8006 [email protected]


Instructional Staff
Faculty, including adjunct faculty; graduate teaching assistants; and all other individuals assigned to provide instruction in a course.


Instructional staff
Identify materials required for the course.

Submit a formal request to the department head, requesting permission use any materials in the course from which the individual will personally profit. Provide justification for the selection of those materials as part of the request.

Academic Unit Head
  • Review the academic merit of the materials, and consult with faculty peers.
  • Provide a formal response to the request.
  • Retain a copy of the record of the decision in the academic unit files.
  • File a copy of the decision with the collegiate dean’s office.
  • Monitor compliance and provide information about this policy to instructional staff.
Academic Dean
Review and render decisions on requests, if the individual providing the instruction in the course is an academic department head.

Related Information

Administrative Policy:  Individual Conflicts of Interest


February 2016 - Comprehensive Review. Minor Revision. Changes clarifies the documentation expectations when approval is given to use materials in a course that were created by that instructor, and specifies that a one-up approval is required when the head of the administrative unit is involved in the use of the materials.
December 2009 - Policy now applies to Crookston.
April 2009

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