The University seeks to hire and retain the most qualified individuals and to foster a work environment of trust and good will. The University also seeks to admit, enroll, and graduate students with the strongest record of accomplishment and greatest potential. Nepotism is favoritism in the workplace based on kinship or other familial relationship and ordinarily consists of making employment decisions based on a current or prior family relationship. It also can manifest itself in academic decisions based on that kinship or other familial relationship. Nepotism is inconsistent with the University’s longstanding policy of making employment decisions based solely on unit needs and individual qualifications, skills, ability, and performance, and making academic decisions based solely on individual achievement, performance, and potential. The purpose of this policy is to avoid favoritism, the appearance of or potential for favoritism, and conflicts in interest and loyalty often associated with nepotism.


No faculty member or other academic appointee may make, participate in, or attempt to influence employment or academic decisions or actions involving a relative, former relative, or an individual with whom they have or have had a consensual romantic or sexual relationship.

Key Definitions

  • Academic employee: University faculty or other academic appointee within the meaning of the University’s Statutes.

  • Academic decisions: the full spectrum of academic actions, including but not limited to decisions regarding admission to any University degree-granting program or program of study; grading decisions or determinations regarding grading criteria or course requirements; course or program enrollment selection or placement; decisions related to dissertation committee staffing; decisions about academic progress, ongoing enrollment in a program, resource allocation, selection for offsite fieldwork, or award of grants, fellowships or other forms of recognition; decisions made by any disciplinary committee; and any other decision that affects a student’s academic standing or performance.

  • Employment decisions: the full spectrum of employment related actions, including but not limited to decisions related to hiring; supervision; direction of work; promotion; retention; compensation; work hours; assignment or review of committee work, leaves, space allocations, and the like; performance evaluation; termination; and all other terms and conditions of employment.

  • Relative: the spouse; domestic partner; and, whether by blood, adoption, marriage (including in-laws) or domestic partnership, the child, parent, grandparent, sibling, grandchild, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, or any person residing (or previously residing) in the immediate household of the University faculty member or other academic appointee. Relative also includes an individual formerly related to the University faculty member or other academic appointee by virtue of one of the relationships listed above, e.g., a child or current spouse or domestic partner of a former spouse or domestic partner.


Guidelines and Commentary

  1. This policy does not prohibit the University from simultaneously employing relatives. Indeed, relatives are permitted to work in the same University department or unit so long as they comply with the requirements outlined above, e.g., there is no direct reporting or supervisory relationship between the relatives and all employment decisions are made by others. Likewise, the policy does not prohibit a relative from being admitted to or enrolled in a degree granting program or program of study in which that person’s relative is a faculty member or other academic appointee.

  2. Faculty members and other academic appointees are obligated to self-report in a timely manner to the head of their organizational unit before they make, participate in or attempt to influence decisions prohibited by this policy. If the at-issue relationship involves the leader of an organizational unit (e.g., a Department Chair or Director), the self-report must be made to the academic leader to whom the employee is accountable (e.g., Dean or Provost). 

  3. This policy is applicable to instances of nepotism that began or came into existence before the enactment of this policy and which persist; those situations thus prospectively must be evaluated and managed within the parameters of this policy.

  4. Legitimate issues may arise and thus must be disclosed in a timely manner and managed under this policy with regard to favoritism of: (i) relatives who do not fit the definition of relative provided above; (ii) individuals with whom an academic employee has or has had a consensual sexual or romantic relationship; and (iii) situations where the faculty member or other academic appointee is directly or indirectly involved in the University’s engagement or potential engagement (e.g., as a contractor) of a relative or individual with whom an academic employee has or has had a consensual sexual or romantic relationship. 

  5. Exceptions to this policy are at the discretion of the President and Provost. For example, if one of the related parties is uniquely qualified to work for the other based on qualifications for a position and performs work in direct support of teaching, research or patient care, the President or Provost may permit the related persons to continue to work together, provided that an appropriate management plan is developed, implemented and administered, as described below in Paragraph 6.  

  6. The fundamental goal of the management plan is to mitigate actual and perceived favoritism and conflicts of interest and loyalty by establishing appropriate processes for employment and academic decisions. Depending on the employment classification (e.g., staff, academic) or academic status (e.g., applicant, enrolled student) of the individual with whom the faculty member or other academic appointee has a relationship, a management plan should be devised by, as appropriate, the unit’s academic affairs administrator, senior human resources representative, University Human Resource Services, or dean of students, and must be approved by the head of the academic organizational unit (e.g., Dean, Director, Chair or Section Chief) and by the Provost or his or her designee. At a minimum, management plans must: (i) address reporting relationships, supervision, and evaluation in a way that will assure that there will be no participation in employment or academic decisions as prohibited by this policy and (ii) establish a review and approval process for expenditures to sufficiently mitigate or preclude favoritism or the appearance of favoritism. To ensure continuity and appropriateness, review and, as needed, revision of the approved management plan should occur as soon as there is a germane change in reporting relationships or academic oversight. If the at-issue relationship involves the leader of an organizational unit, the management plan must be reviewed and approved by the academic leader to whom that leader is accountable (e.g., Dean or Provost). 

  7. Complaints about violations of this policy should be submitted to the cognizant Dean or the Office the Provost. All such complaints will be treated as confidentially as feasible and will be addressed by the cognizant Dean and the Office of the Provost.


Related Policies

Revised: 21 June 2023