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Student Committee Conflict of Interest Statement

The Graduate College strives to protect the academic interests of graduate students, and uphold academic standards of rigor related to student preliminary examination and thesis/dissertation defense committees.  It is important that a conflict of interest, or the appearance of one, be avoided. 

This policy is applicable for committees for master's thesis defenses, doctoral preliminary examinations, professional doctorate project defenses (EdD), and doctoral dissertation defenses.

Before a preliminary examination or defense committee is approved by the Graduate College, the student must answer the following question on the Committee Recommendation Form:

  • Do you have any financial, non-financial (including previous employment) affiliation, or romantic, sexual or familial relationship with any member on the proposed committee outside of normal accepted academic activity, mentoring, and support?  (If you are unsure whether or not there is a conflict, answer “yes.”)
    • If “yes,” attach a statement specifying the nature, length, and time period of the relationship, and rationale for having that member on the committee.

Statements explaining conflicts of interest will be reviewed by the Graduate College.  The Graduate College reserves the right to deny any member of a proposed committee based on the nature and the rationale of the statement provided.

Categories related to potential conflicts of interest include:

  • A student works for, used to work for, or is expecting to be employed by a committee member’s company/organization.
  • A student’s close relative or partner works for, used to work for, or is expecting to be employed by a committee member’s company/organization.
  • Student is related to a committee member or to a member’s close relative or partner.
  • Student has, or had, a romatic or sexual relationship with a committee member.

Categories related to potential conflicts of interest which would not be of concern include:

  • Supporting a student from a grant, assistantship, award, fellowship, or other type of scholarship.
  • Typical support provided by an advisor/mentor related to scholarly activity.