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Ethics Committee Textbook Ruling

In a case involving a faculty member at a state college, the Massachusetts Ethics Commission has issued an opinion that a faculty member who wishes to assign his or her own textbook or other materials to students, and will thereby benefit financially, must first disclose this potential conflict of interest to the Provost and receive written permission from the Provost to proceed. Copies of the disclosure and the Provost's written decision must be forwarded to the Commission. A faculty member who did not follow this procedure might be deemed to be in violation of the state conflict of interest law and subject to sanctions. The Ethics Commission recognizes that faculty members have the right to decide what textbooks to assign but points out that state law prohibits them, as state employees, from gaining personal financial benefit from their work.

Effective immediately, prior to assigning to students any material from which you will benefit financially, you must submit the attached disclosure form to the Provost, receive written authorization from the Provost, and forward a copy of the disclosure form with the Provost's approval to the Massachusetts Ethics Commission. If you choose to donate all of your earnings deriving from the assignment of your works to a student scholarship fund and forego any tax benefit from that donation, you will not have to go through this process of getting permission and notifying the Ethics Commission, since you will thus realize no financial benefit and there will therefore be no conflict of interest.

Ethics Commission Disclosure Form (MS Word)