The Conflict of Interest (COI) policy regarding graduate students and their mentors (e.g., faculty advisors) involves any financial interest of the graduate student's mentor/thesis/dissertation advisor that has the potential to harm the student's academic interests and degree progress. As such, UCI has a COI policy to manage this specific graduate education issue, which may include appointing an Oversight Member.
A COI issue may be raised at any time at the academic unit level by the graduate student, the Faculty Mentor/Thesis/Dissertation Advisor, a departmental representative, or the Conflict of Interest Oversight Committee. The first step is reporting the potential COI to the Designated Resource Person (usually the departmental graduate advisor) unless the Designated Resource Person is also the student’s conflicted Faculty Mentor/Thesis/Dissertation Advisor, in which case the Department Chair handles the matter.
After the Designated Resource Person (usually the departmental graduate advisor) determines that the Conflict Of Interest (COI) issue includes a component that may be harmful to the student, the Designated Resource Person notifies the Dean of Graduate Studies requesting an Oversight Member be appointed.
The “Oversight Member” shall participate, as a non-voting Ex Officio Member, in all student research advisory and/or thesis/dissertation committee meetings. The “Oversight Member” shall be aware of the COI issues and relevant campus policies.
If there do not appear to be any harmful results from COI issues, the “Oversight Member” shall sign a brief statement to that effect after each committee meeting. The “Oversight Member” shall also sign the advancement to candidacy and final exam forms below the signatures of the voting committee members. A copy of these forms, together with the oversight member's statements on the impact of the COI, shall be placed in the student's file and also forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies.
However, if the “Oversight Member” perceives that there is a problem arising from COI issues, then the “Oversight Member” shall not sign the advancement to candidacy or final exam forms summarizing the committee deliberation, but shall instead inform the Dean of Graduate Studies of the problem in writing. The Dean of Graduate Studies is then responsible for determining a solution.
Regardless of the impact of the COI on the student, the “Oversight Member” shall not halt the proceedings during the course of an oral examination.