Contracts Administration Policy


Policy Statement

Washington and Lee University ("W&L" or "University") enters into hundreds of contractual agreements each year that involve a wide array of activities, including services, consulting, maintenance, supplies, performances, facilities use, construction, research, and publications, among others. This policy is intended to provide guidance to the W&L community on the need for written agreements, who can sign contracts, the review process, and record keeping for all contracts involving University resources. The goal of this policy is to promote good business practices and controls, see that all contractual agreements meet the University's legal and compliance requirements, and avoid unintended contractual obligations not in the best interests of the University. 


This policy applies to all W&L faculty, staff, employees, agents, students, and student organizations who seek to cause the University to enter into any type of agreement (whether previously oral or written) that obligates W&L to provide payment, services, goods, or use of University property, facilities, or other resources to a third party. Examples of contracts governed by this policy include, but are not limited to, leases, purchase orders, design/engineering/construction contracts, employment agreements, service and consulting agreements, grants, revenue contracts, affiliation agreements, and contracts that obligate W&L funds to pay for other services, such as speakers, bands, research projects, etc., including circumstances where the agreements are for the benefit of a student organization, faculty member, or academic department.


I. Contract Authority

A. Exclusive Board authority and responsibility for contracts for the sale of University-owned real estate

The University's articles of incorporation and bylaws reserve to the Board of Trustees the authority to approve any contract that obligates W&L to sell any University owned real estate. Any such contracts should be signed by the University's Treasurer after Board approval.

B. Presidential authority and responsibility for all other contracts

In accordance with Chapter II of the bylaws, the President, as chief executive officer of the University, has the authority and responsibility to sign all other contracts. The President may delegate signature authority and responsibility, as described below. No other officer, faculty, staff, employee, student, or student organization, has the authority to sign contracts, bind or otherwise obligate the University without the express, specific written consent of the President or an authorized delegee.

By delegation from the President, the Treasurer and Vice President for Finance and Administration has the authority and responsibility to sign all deeds, leases, and contracts arising out of the legitimate business operations of the University for which funds are available in the approved budget or other approved sources. The Treasurer and Vice‐President for Finance and Administration may further delegate this authority in writing in accordance with Section C.

By delegation from the President, the Provost has the authority and responsibility to sign all contracts arising out of the legitimate academic operations of the University for which funds are available in the approved budget or other approved sources. The Provost may further delegate this authority in writing in accordance with Section C.

C. Delegation of Contracting Authority

Delegations of contracting authority are prohibited, except where specifically authorized in this policy. The delegating official retains ultimate responsibility for matters and personnel under his/her supervision. An individual who has not received a written delegation of authority to sign contracts shall not sign agreements that purport to bind the University, and may be held personally responsible if s/he attempts to do so. Washington and Lee University retains the authority not to recognize an agreement as binding against the University unless all signatories to the agreement have proper contracting authority as of the date the contract was entered.

All delegations of contracting authority should: 1) be in writing; 2) be made to specific position titles, not named individuals; 3) indicate the scope of the delegation (i.e., a specific contract/vendor only, contracts under a certain dollar amount, etc.); 4) specify the need for advance review by the Office of General Counsel and/or other relevant departments for particular contracts, vendors, or other unique situations different from those generally set out in Section II of this policy; 5) indicate whether further written delegation is permitted; and 6) be copied and maintained in the offices of both parties, with a copy sent to the Office of General Counsel. Unless otherwise specified, delegated contracting authority will remain in effect until revoked in writing. 

D. Conflict of Interest

University officials with contract authority must exercise that authority in a manner consistent with the University's Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Transactions with Interested Persons.

II. Importance of Written Contracts, Advance Review, and Review Prior to Termination or Non-Renewal

A. Written Contracts

All contracts with third parties involving University resources should be in writing, regardless of prior practice or prior business relationships with the person or entity.

B. Advance Review by Relevant Department(s)

All contracts should be reviewed and approved in advance by other departments that will need to provide technical support, facilities, or personnel to carry out the contract. For example, a software contract should be reviewed by ITS to determine whether W&L can support the software.

C. Advance Review by the Office of General Counsel

All contracts shall be reviewed by the Office of General Counsel before submission to the authorized official for signature. Exceptions to this advance review requirement are contracts using templates previously approved by the Office of General Counsel. All contracts should be sent electronically in Microsoft Word format (not in "pdf" format) to the Office of General Counsel.

Departments may develop a standard form contract for particular types of transactions, particular vendors, etc. for review and approval by the Office of General Counsel. If approved, the department may use such form agreements without individual review by the Office of General Counsel, so long as it is used for the particular type of transaction and/or vendor for which its use has been approved. 

D. Review by the Office of General Counsel Prior to Termination or Non-Renewal

If a contract is being terminated prior to its expiration date, the termination provisions of the contract should be reviewed in advance by the Office of General Counsel to ensure that all contractual provisions are appropriately complied with and to avoid liability on the part of the University related to the termination. This review is not required if the contract expires on its own terms (e.g., if the term of the contract is complete and/or the goods or services that were contracted for have been provided). 

III. Record Keeping

When a contract is signed, the University office/department that arranged for the contract (including leases and purchase orders) is responsible for:

A.  promptly providing the original, fully-executed (i.e. signed by all parties) contract to the Business Office (for purposes of record keeping, audit reporting, and execution of disbursements); and

B.  keeping a copy of the fully-executed contract, including all attachments. 

Revision History