Conflict of Interest

In light of the growing number of high profile conflict of interest violations across the not-for profit sector, there is a pressing need for boards to conduct thorough and periodic reviews of their conflict of interest policies. AGB's Statement on Conflict of Interest contains 12 principles for college and university boards of trustees to consider when writing or strengthening institutional conflict of interest policies.

While financial conflicts tend to dominate board conflict of interest discussions, the subjects of political gain, unmerited preference in hiring, student admissions decisions, and other conflicts can compromise the integrity that boards should hold in trust. In response to these concerns and to queries from presidents, board chairs, trustees and other leaders of member institutions, AGB's board formed a six-member Conflict of Interest Advisory Council to recommend practices for implementation of conflict of interest policies.

Read the full statement or the press release; download the statement as a pdf file. An audio conference on conflict of interest was held December 8, 2009, and a recording will be available in our online store soon.

Other AGB Work Related to Conflict of Interest

A Guide to Updating the Board's Conflict of Interest Policy, available for purchase

AGB Statement on Board Accountability

Effective Governing Boards: A Guide for Members of Governing Boards of Independent Colleges and Universities, available for purchase

Board Education and Consulting Services, workshops and consulting engagements covering a wide range of governance topics for private and public institutions as well as institutionally related foundations

AGB Project Advisory Council

The Honorable Hank Brown, chair, AGB Conflict of Interest Advisory Council; President Emeritus, University of Colorado; and former member, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate

The Honorable Cynthia Baldwin, chair, AGB Board of Directors; former chair and current member, Board of Trustees, Pennsylvania State University; and former Justice, Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Dr. Malcolm Gillis, Zingler Professor of Economics, Rice University; former president, Rice University; and former vice provost for academic affairs, Duke University

Dr. Patricia Graham, Professor, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; former dean, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University; and former president, Spencer Foundation

Dr. Robert O'Neil, founding director, Thomas Jefferson Center for the  Protection of Free Expression, University of Virginia; director, Ford Foundation's Difficult Dialogues Program; and former president, University of Virginia

The Honorable David Tatel, judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia; chair, Board of Trustees, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; and former director, Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

(Note: The affiliations listed above are not intended to signify endorsement of the recommendations by the organizations identified).

Project Staff
Mr. Martin Michaelson, project director; partner, Hogan & Hartson LLP; and former university counsel, Harvard University
Ms. Jennifer Stillerman, attorney, Hogan & Hartson
Ms. Cristin Toutsi, assistant for policy analysis, AGB