A faculty consultant is a professional who uses his or her position on the faculty of a school or university, as well as her experience in a certain field, to provide professional consulting outside of the academic context. Faculty consultants are active in a range of fields and industries, counseling corporations and other parties on various issues, where their particular expertise plays a significant role in product development, policy, or other initiatives. In general, a faculty consultant has to balance her role in the university or school with any other responsibilities that they take on outside of their primary job position.
A wide variety of roles are played by faculty consultants in modern commerce and public administration. For example, many professors in scientific departments may provide faculty consulting to pharmaceutical companies, for product development, research, or other company projects. In the public sphere, a faculty consultant may work with a government group on aspects of policy or strategic initiatives for civic education. These are just some common examples of how faculty consultants work outside of the academic world.
The issue of faculty consulting has raised certain questions within the academic community, as this type of consulting becomes more prolific in the corporate world and the world of public administration. One essential topic of debate is the potential for conflicts of interest; in some cases, acting as a faculty consultant can raise significant issues about whether or not the individual can bring an unbiased opinion to a project. Any role in a research department can potentially cause a conflict of interest.
Another issue of faculty consulting is the issue of data ownership. Faculty members at schools and universities generally compile their own informational resources, while utilizing the tools and resources of the academic institution. In some cases, the consulting borders on unauthorized use of information gathered through using these resources. There are also issues around the use of the university image or logo, or even the use of those particular credentials related to the academic institution, included in advertising or promotion of faculty consultant roles.
The main imperative for a faculty consultant is to find outside consulting work that is compatible with the work that he or she is doing in the academic world. These professionals must pay attention to how their academic responsibilities affect their outside consulting. They must also take care to guard the assets and image of their academic employers as well as their own individual academic reputations.