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Contract Review and Approval Policy

This policy defines appropriate channels for review and approval of formal agreements or contracts between Vassar College and another party, including the authorization to sign. "Contract" is defined as an agreement between two or more parties that is intended to have legal effect. Contracts document a common understanding between the parties as to the essential terms of their agreement, contain mutual obligations, and set forth the agreement’s consideration.

Employment Contracts

Letter agreements to commit the College to the employment of an individual are prepared and issued only by four College Offices: the Office of the Dean of the Faculty for faculty appointments; the Office of the Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs for professional librarians and athletic faculty; the Office of Human Resources for administrative and support positions, whether continuing or temporary; and the Office of the President for senior officers of the College, whose appointments are subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.

Grants and Contracts Funded by External Sources

For research and program contracts with funding provided by an outside agency, foundation or corporations, the review process follows policies and procedures established by the Grants Office. Refer to the Grants Office website for assistance.

Business Contracts

College business contracts include, but are not limited to: agreements for the purchase, lease, or rental of goods, services, or facilities; construction and related professional service contracts; and assignment of the right of a person, group, or agency to use the college’s facilities, name, logo, or other resources. In some cases, Vassar College may be the recipient of the product or service or the user of the facility; in other cases, Vassar may be entering into an agreement to provide facilities, products or services. The procedures outlined below apply whether or not a financial consideration is incorporated in the agreement.

Review process for Business Contracts

The following procedures apply to all contractual purchases, whether supported by unrestricted College funds, endowed fund income, gifts, or grants.

Initial review: Faculty and staff should consult staff in the Purchasing Office at an early stage in any negotiation requiring a formal agreement between the College and an outside party. Depending on the dollar value, duration and complexity of the agreement, the Director of Budget and Planning will conduct the first review of the agreement, consulting with the Vassar department requesting the contract review and others as needed regarding the clarity of wording, financial implications of the contract, and legal and insurance questions. Such a review may require two weeks or more, depending upon the complexity of the agreement and the availability of key staff or outside parties.

Unit heads who must frequently review contracts for use of Vassar facilities or for the purchase of goods and services should meet with the Director of Budget and Planning to develop procedures and/or contracting templates that will support their activities.

Authority to sign: Generally, vice presidents and deans who are officers of the College will have authority to sign contracts that are routine activities of the College within the purview of their divisions, and for which funds have been budgeted. For example, the Vice President for Computing and Information Services has authority to sign software licensing agreements.

Multi-year agreements and contracts requiring financial commitments beyond the current academic year must be reviewed by staff in the business offices of the College and require the signature of the Vice President for Finance and Administration to be valid.

The Purchasing Department website displays policies and procedures related to vendor selection and other matters governing expenditures under a contractual agreement or a purchase order. Note that the non-recurring purchase of goods and services, such as conference registration fees, office supplies, publications, books, emergency supplies, or travel-related expenses that are less than $2,000 in value may be made directly via the College PCard or Corporate Credit card, as appropriate. Please consult the staff in Purchasing for further information about small-dollar purchases and these programs.