KBOR, Wichita State need to be mindful of conflicts of interest

David Murfin, appointed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, is in the second year of a four-year term. While he holds his position, Murfin should be mindful of where his interests lie.

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KBOR, Wichita State need to be mindful of conflicts of interest

David Murfin of the Kansas Board of Regents discusses conflicts of interest at a KBOR meeting last school year in Topeka.

David Murfin of the Kansas Board of Regents discusses conflicts of interest at a KBOR meeting last school year in Topeka.

Ray Strunk

David Murfin of the Kansas Board of Regents discusses conflicts of interest at a KBOR meeting last school year in Topeka.

Ray Strunk

Ray Strunk

David Murfin of the Kansas Board of Regents discusses conflicts of interest at a KBOR meeting last school year in Topeka.

Be mindful, KBOR and Wichita State, of the potential for conflicts of interest.

David Murfin, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, identified his potential for conflicts of interest in a discussion at the latest KBOR meeting two weeks ago.

Murfin called himself, “the biggest problem” in the discussion, and it’s clear to see why. KBOR oversees operation of Wichita State. Murfin has been heavily involved in developments in WSU’s Innovation Alliance, the governing body for Innovation Campus.

KBOR identifies a conflict of interest as when a regent has a vested interest — financial or otherwise — in the dealings of an institution governed by KBOR. That counts WSU.

Murfin is partial owner of two development companies — MWCB, LLC and BCG Developers, LLC — that have ties to properties on Innovation Campus. MWCB, LLC is responsible for the development of The Flats, a private housing complex, leased and managed by WSU. Murfin abstained from a KBOR vote to lease the building to WSU.

KBOR adopted a conflict of interests policy in June 2010 that requires regents to disclose “certain transactional interests, memberships and affiliations.”

Murfin should be cautious in his participation in Board votes, as policy calls for the Board to “review the disclosures and make participation determinations.”

To accurately avert conflicts of interest, Murfin and other KBOR members should be mindful of their dealings, both inside and out of WSU.

Murfin addressed the matter on Thursday, saying, “I want to be as transparent as possible.”

We should expect nothing less of officials. Murfin, appointed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, is in the second year of a four-year term. While he holds his position, Murfin should be mindful of where his interests lie.

Conflicts of interest are prevented when members are proactive and transparent. Murfin and his potential for influence within WSU’s Innovation Alliance could pose issues moving forward should he not continue to identify himself as “the biggest problem.”