Only certain designated personnel are allowed to execute and sign contracts and other instruments on behalf of SMU. Delegations of signature authority for various types of contracts are very limited. All contracts involving the University must be signed by a University official with the appropriate Signature Authority. Furthermore, all agreements the university enters must be reviewed by the SMU Office of Legal Affairs prior to signing and execution, with sufficient time to thoroughly draft and review.
Signature Authority and the process for delegating signature authority, can be found in the University Policy Manual:
"All contracts involving the University must be signed by a University official with the appropriate Signature Authority. The Bylaws of the University designate the President of the University as the chief executive and administrative officer of the University, and authorize the President, except with respect to certain real estate, to “execute all deeds, deeds of trust, bills of sale, assignments, transfers, releases, notes, obligations or contracts, or other instruments of the University as he/she shall deem appropriate or as the Board of Trustees may direct.” (University Bylaws, Article IV). The President also is authorized to delegate the power to execute contracts and other binding obligations of the University to other University employees as he or she sees proper. A University employee with Signature Authority from the President may not further delegate that authority to anyone else, unless otherwise authorized by the Board of Trustees or the President, and employees with Signature Authority may not combine their authorities in order to sign agreements that the employees, individually, do not have the authority to sign.
- Unless the power to execute contracts is delegated by the President pursuant to the Bylaws of the University or a Board Resolution, no University faculty member or employee is authorized to bind the University, or any operating unit, department, or “center” of the University, under the terms of a contract.
- It is the responsibility of anyone who presents a contract for signature and who signs a contract in the name of the University to read and understand the terms of the contract, assure that the contract has been reviewed and approved as set forth in this Policy and that the business terms of the contract are accurate, reasonable, and fair to the University.
- An employee who has a conflict of interest with respect to a contract does not have authority to sign the contract and must not be involved in the approval process with respect to the contract.
- Each school and department will appoint a designated Contract Lead(s) who will serve as the primary point of contact for all contract activities within a given unit managing the contracting process from inception to execution. Each Contract Lead will work closely with the Senior Contract Administrator as necessary to negotiate and conclude contracts, engage appropriate University resources with expertise in various areas of contract management and manage the contract after execution. The Senior Contract Administrator reports to the Vice President of Business and Finance with oversight from the Vice President for Legal Affairs.
- Employees who have Signature Authority to execute contracts must ensure that:
- The transaction conforms to all University policies and procedures;
- There are no conflicts of interest among the parties to the transaction;
- Liability to the University is minimized through an assessment of risk and insurance requirements; and
- The contract provides reasonable legal protection for the University
- Except as determined by the Vice President for Legal Affairs, all contracts will be maintained on a central contract management system.
- Individuals who enter into unauthorized agreements may be personally financially responsible for the transaction and will be subject to disciplinary action."