In March, 2004 the State Ethics Commission issued an opinion on the question of whether state college professors could assign to their classes texts that they wrote and receive royalties from the sale.
In the Commission's opinion (in its entirety at www.mass.gov/ethics/COI_04_2.pdf) professors may assign their texts and other materials to students in their classes, but they must take specific steps before doing so to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest inherent in the potential financial gain from the sale of the materials. The opinion is based on the conflict-of-interest statute for state employees found in Massachusetts General Laws c.268A, §6.
The closing of the Ethics Commission opinion states: "[W]e recognize that the state college professors' collective bargaining agreement gives professors freedom to select the materials they will use in their classes. We emphasize that G.L.c.268A, §6 does not prohibit a state college professor from selecting his own or any other textbook. What §6 requires, prior to such a selection, when one's financial interest will be affected by the decision, is a full disclosure and a review by one's appointing authority in order to protect the integrity of government decision-making."
The opinion requires that "you must fully disclose and receive a written determination from your appointing authority [in our case, President Mohler-Faria] ... that you may participate because your financial interest in the textbook selection is not so substantial as to affect the integrity of your service to the Commonwealth" (p. 3). Note that failure to comply with this disclosure requirement can result in substantial penalties including a fine and prison sentence.
To meet this requirement you must initiate the process by completing the attached form and submitting it to the Academic Affairs office if you have assigned any materials to your classes that you have authored/published/compiled and from which you will receive any royalties or other income. This requirement applies to full- and part-time faculty teaching in both the day and DGCE programs. The President will make a determination and return the form to you to send to the State Ethics Commission.
Please complete and return the attached disclosure form by May 15 for the Fall semester and by November 15 for the Spring and Summer semesters to the Office of Academic Affairs, Boyden Hall.
Last Modified: November 16, 2012