Professional and Outside Activity and Consulting Policy

Faculty Absence from Campus

Other than absences due to illness, all absences from campus during the academic year that affect University obligations, especially while classes are in session, must be fully and appropriately justified in advance, e.g., for important professional or scholarly activities, to your unit supervisor.   

Extended absences that entail missing two or more consecutive classes require prior approval of the dean/director or designee. It is expected that classes canceled for any reason will either be rescheduled or compensated for in some other way.

Academic-Year Obligation

The academic‐year obligation is an annual obligation of service, not to exceed ten months. The term of obligation is determined by the president. During that period, persons having academic‐year obligations are expected to be available for service, consistent with their departmental assignments, program responsibilities, and the college calendar. The exact length of the forthcoming academic year is reported during each summer to the provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, and the State University of New York, in a letter from the president. Typically, the academic‐year obligation covers the dates from approximately the first day of registration in the Fall through the day after Commencement.

Professional and Outside Activities

Faculty members who belong to professional associations and societies or who are invited to serve on scholarly or advisory bodies related to their academic work should participate actively, consistent with their responsibilities and obligations to the University. An activity is considered to be scholarly or professional if: (1) it involves research or scholarship through which the individual may make contributions to knowledge; (2) it gives the individual experience and knowledge of value to teaching or research; and (3) it is appropriate public service.

University faculty members may serve as expert witnesses in administrative or judicial proceedings in which SUNY and SUNY‐Buffalo are not parties, provided they do so in a manner consistent with this policy on Professional and Outside Activities and Consulting and consistent with any University conflict of interest policies.

Provisions of the Public Officers Law may bear upon outside activities by faculty members, who are advised to consult on possible conflicts of interest with the appropriate administrative offices.

Faculty members who desire to engage in extensive part‐time employment that cannot be considered scholarly or professional must obtain written approval from the appropriate dean before undertaking such employment.  

Outside Consulting Work

Consultation by faculty members with outside organizations can be a source of valuable professional experience as well as being, in some cases, a source of additional income. The University permits such consultation, subject to the conditions stated in this policy. For those on full‐time service to the University, the guiding principle is that University duties are the primary obligation of the faculty member while consultation is a personal activity.

Although obligations of faculty are multifaceted and often cannot be precisely defined in number of hours, there is increasing pressure on universities to provide a reasonable accounting of the professional activities of full‐time employees. Because of the complexity of these obligations and the difficulty in reporting faculty activities, it has generally been accepted that universities place limits as a matter of policy on the amounts of time and effort full‐time faculty members may devote to outside consulting. The intent of this policy is to provide faculty members with maximum flexibility to exercise their consulting privilege within established limits.

During semesters of full time service to the University, consulting work for outside organizations is limited to the equivalent of four days per month. Full‐time faculty members who expect to consult for more than one day in any given week must receive prior approval from their department or program chair and dean. A reasonable amount of “averaging” over the semesters of the academic year is ordinarily acceptable, although particular circumstances such as teaching loads or the terms of support under external grants or contracts will need to be taken into account. Averaging of consulting time from semesters of less‐than‐full‐time service to semesters of full‐time service is not permitted.

Consulting work must be performed on personal time (time in addition to, rather than a part of, the normal full‐time effort expected of faculty members for University work) and must not detract from the faculty member’s primary obligations to the University. In accordance with this policy, a faculty member with a less‐than‐full‐time appointment should prorate outside and University obligations appropriately. If there is any possibility of interference with primary obligations, the faculty member should not engage in the consulting work or should request a leave of absence or a salary reduction. Faculty members may not engage in outside consulting work that conflicts directly with scheduled teaching or research obligations.

Faculty members must notify their dean through their department or program chairs before undertaking outside consulting activity for compensation. Written notification of consulting work should specify the organization with which the work is concerned, a statement of the amount of time required, the period of the consulting arrangement, the value of the financial interests related to the external entity, and whether the work will or will not interfere with responsibilities to the University. Substantial changes in outside consulting activity for which notice has been provided must also be reported to the dean.

The nature of the consulting work should in no way detract from the prestige of the University or from the professional stature of the faculty member. Consulting obligations undertaken should conform to this objective.

The University may report the number and hours of consulting engagements in aggregate reporting of consulting activity by the School or the University.

The online SEAS External Activity/Consulting Notification form is available here for your convenience.

If a University employee undertakes outside work for an agency of the State of New York, policies relating to Extra Service Employment apply. Prior approval is required for any state employee to be on two state payrolls of the State of New York.  

Use of University Resources

The facilities, personnel, resources, and services of the University may not be used in connection with compensated outside work, except in a purely incidental way. In cases where a member of the faculty wishes to use the facilities and services of the University in connection with outside consulting activities, appropriate arrangements to compensate the University must be made in advance with the Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development.

When a University employee participates in a consulting arrangement, extramural employment, or venture which has a substantial programmatic relationship to the University, use of University personnel, resources, or facilities is allowed only with prior approval by the appropriate dean or director of the University and the Vice President for Research & Economic Development, and through proper arrangements consistent with the University’s fiduciary responsibilities to the State of New York and the Research Foundation of SUNY. This requirement applies particularly to the use of University facilities by the private sector. The conditions of such use are incorporated in SUNY’s Policy on Use of University Facilities and SUNY’s Policy and Guidelines for the Use of State University Facilities by Emerging Technology Enterprises.

When a University employee participates in a consulting arrangement, extramural employment, or venture which has no officially approved relationship to the University, the use of University resources of any kind is not permitted. This ban includes space equipment, computer resources, supplies, personnel services, the employee’s payroll title or in‐house title, and University stationery to ensure the absence of any implication of University sponsorship or approval of the activity.

Third Party Contract/Agreement Clause

To avoid conflicts between the primary obligations of the faculty member to the University and the terms of the consulting or other agreements with a third party, the following clause must be included in any such agreements:

“In the event the terms and conditions of this agreement are in conflict with the terms and conditions of employment with the State University of New York at Buffalo, or with those of grants or contracts administered by the Research Foundation of SUNY for which I perform service, the latter shall prevail.”

Last updated September 4, 2013