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Outside Consulting Work

I. Preamble

Consultation by faculty members with outside organizations can be a source of valuable professional experience.   The University permits such consultation, subject to the conditions set forth in this policy statement.   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.   Consulting activities must be in compliance with SUNY policies and applicable law, and should not detract from the prestige of the University or professional stature of the faculty member.   Before committing to any outside consulting activities, faculty members should visit the website for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics ( and should also familiarize themselves with applicable Stony Brook University policies.

II. Time Commitment

Although obligations of faculty are multifaceted and often cannot be precisely defined in number of hours, universities must be able 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 flexibility to consult subject to the limitations set forth in this document.

During semesters of full-time service to the University consulting work for outside organizations is limited to the equivalent of four days per month.  Faculty on appointments that accrue vacation (typically those on calendar-year appointments) should consult with their Dean on whether accruals should be charged for these days.  Consulting work should not detract from the faculty members’ full‑time obligation to the University.

Full-time clinical faculty members are not permitted to perform clinical work outside the university and affiliate hospitals without permission of the Dean.   Part‑time faculty and faculty in qualified ranks have the obligation to deliver the effort described by the terms of their appointment.   Professional activities outside the specific scope of their appointment should not interfere with their ability to meet performance requirements or obligations to the university.

III. Approval Process

Written requests for permission to consult should specify the organization for which the work is performed, a statement of the amount of time required, the period of the consulting arrangement, and a statement of whether the work will or will not interfere with the faculty member’s responsibilities to the University or present a conflict of interest or commitment.   The request should have the approval of the department chair, the appropriate Dean and, if applicable, the Provost.   In situations where consultation in excess of four days per month is requested, approval, if any, must be given by the Provost or the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences (SVPHS) as appropriate.   If the amount of consulting time interferes with the faculty member’s full-time obligation to the University, he/she should not engage in the consulting work or should request a leave of absence or salary reduction.   Final disposition of these requests rests with the Provost or SVPHS.  Faculty members engaged in consultation should resolve in advance any questions about the amount of consultation to be performed to avoid excess consulting in conflict with their obligation to the University.

IV. Agreement

When faculty members’ outside work is for remuneration, consultants should have an agreement in place that clearly defines the technical scope and financial terms of the consulting activity.   This is a personal agreement between the consultant and outside entity for which the consultant is personally responsible and to which SBU is not a party.

A. Intellectual Property

Faculty members are subject to SUNY’s Patents, Inventions and Copyright Policy ( 8 NYCRR Part 335.28).   Before signing an agreement with an outside entity, faculty should make certain that his/her rights and the University’s intellectual property rights are protected.   A clause should be inserted in the agreement that reads:

“[Company] acknowledges that consultant is a faculty member at SBU and is subject to University policies including the Patent, Inventions and Copyright Policy including obligations to disclose external inventions.   Company also acknowledges that consultant is not acting in an official capacity for SUNY during this engagement and that use of University facilities for this engagement may require an agreement with the University.”  

Under the Patent, Inventions and Copyright Policy, University faculty are obligated to disclose to the Office of Technology Licensing and Industry Relations (OTLIR) all inventions, including those made in the course of outside professional and consulting activities in compliance with SUNY’s Procedures for Disclosure and Management of Patents and Inventions The conditions of disclosure of such inventions can be discussed with the OTLIR in a way that respects the business interests of the business entity involved and any non-disclosure conditions in the consulting agreement.   A faculty member is not permitted to use intellectual property, including confidential information, owned by the University or The Research Foundation for The State University of New York in connection with outside consulting without written agreement from OTLIR.  

B. Conflicts of Interest
1. University Policies/Employment

It is the responsibility of faculty members to ensure that the consulting agreement is consistent with their University employment obligations, including the University’s conflict of interest policy, which can be found at:   Specifically, a consulting agreement should not interfere with a faculty member’s research and employment obligations at the University and cannot conflict with University policies.  Faculty should be sensitive to potential conflicts between their outside consulting activities and teaching responsibilities vis-à-vis graduate and other students working under supervision.   Faculty should not hire or directly supervise a SBU student in employment or consulting activities outside the University while simultaneously serving as a student’s advisor on a dissertation committee, instructor or in a similar role.   Exceptions to this rule should be rare and subject to advanced written approval by the Provost or as applicable, the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences.   Faculty members may want to review an agreement with an outside entity, at his/her own expense, with a personal attorney to ensure his/her rights are protected and that the terms do not conflict with their University employment.  

 To avoid conflicts between the faculty member’s full-time obligation to the University and the terms of the consulting or other agreement with a third party, the following clause must be included in any such agreements:

 “Company and consultant acknowledge that consultant is not acting on behalf of the State University of New York or the State of New York; neither the State University of New York nor New York State is liable for consultant’s performance under this Agreement.   In the event the terms and conditions of this agreement are in conflict with the terms and conditions of my employment with the State University of New York at Stony Brook, or with those of grants or contracts administered by the Research Foundation of SUNY for which I perform service, the latter shall prevail.”

2. Public Officers Law

Faculty members should refer to the State Public Officers Law §73 and the Code of Conduct in New York Public Officers Law §74 to ensure compliance with state ethics laws.   The consultant is also required to disclose additional compensation as per the Public Officers Law at  

For research conflicts of interest, see Stony Brook Investigator Financial Disclosure Policy No. 209,


V. Use of University’s Facilities/Services/Name

Use of University resources in connection with outside consulting is not permitted.   A consulting faculty member or the company for which the consultation is being performed may follow the process and pay the customary and usual fee for use of any service centers open to external users.

In addition, use of the University’s name is subject to Stony Brook University Policy 510,   A faculty member may identify him/herself as a consultant and also as a member of the faculty at SBU as part of a description of his/her background.   Faculty members may not use their university office or title to suggest that their work for the outside entity is part of their work at the University or endorsed by University in any way.


Additional, related policies

P209: Investigator Conflict of Interest Policy