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Nepotism Policy for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


To inform the faculty and staff in the College of its policy on nepotism.

Applies to: 

Faculty and staff within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Policy Statement: 

Nepotism is defined as “patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship” (Random House College Dictionary). Concerns about nepotism are most likely to arise when one individual holds an official, supervisory position in relation to a relative. In the College, the most frequent situation in which concerns about nepotism are likely to arrive involves a departmental chair whose spouse is a faculty member in that department. In situations where concerns about nepotism could arise, it is the policy of the College to:

  • Avoid conflicts of interest;
  • Avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest;
  • Reduce the potential for conflicts of interest;
  • Protect the rights of the individuals involved.

In order to meet these goals, College units should pay close attention to the following guidelines. It is the purpose of these guidelines to ensure fair and even-handed treatment of all individuals and units in the College.

First, a supervisor should be recused from all discussions that have a direct bearing on the salary that the supervisor’s unit will assign to a relative. For example, chairs should not participate in merit evaluation review of the unit in which a relative resides.

Second, to avoid the appearance of or potential for a conflict of interest, it is recommended that units avail themselves of administrative oversight in determining promotion, tenure, or salary of a faculty member who is a relative of the supervisor of that unit. For example, an associate dean could meet with the (sub) committee involved in making such decisions at the departmental level to ensure that the appropriate procedures are followed. In the College Office, the Dean will assume special responsibility to ensure that the familial relationship between a member of the College office staff and an individual in another College unit does not influence College decisions regarding that department.

Third, so long as the above precautions are taken to guard against the possibility of conflict of interest, the individuals involved should proceed in the normal fashion. For example, faculty members for whom the supervisor of their unit is a relative should receive the same kind of notification about salary and other matters as any other faculty member in the unit. It should be noted, however, that appeals of departmental decisions regarding such matters as salary, promotion, and tenure cannot be addressed to a supervisor with whom one has a familial relationship. Thus, for example, a faculty member of a department chaired by a relative should make any such appeals directly to the Dean of the College.

Fourth, for the purposes of general policy, divorced persons are not regarded as having a “family relationship.” If, however, either party to a divorce is uncomfortable with normal supervisory procedures, then either party member may request that these guidelines for familial relationships be instituted in that particular case. Any such request should be honored by the unit.

Fifth, College units in which concerns about nepotism could arise should submit to the Dean of the College a written statement regarding how they plan to carry out these guidelines. The Dean should be promptly notified, in writing, should the unit decide to make changes in their procedures.

It is hoped that by following these guidelines the potential for conflicts of interest will be minimized, and family members as well as their colleagues can feel comfortable in carrying out their full responsibilities as members of the College community.


Associate Dean
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
University of Kansas

Approved by: 
Dean Joseph Steinmetz
Approved on: 
Sunday, October 1, 1989
Effective on: 
Sunday, October 1, 1989
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Nepotism, favoritism, supervisor
Change History: 

06/22/2017: Updated contact information

07/12/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.

05/22/2015: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).

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