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L&S Routing for Academic Dean Approval for Affiliation Agreements

The Office of Legal Affairs requires certain procedures concerning signature authority on contracts that are legally binding for the university. This document provides information for departments about obtaining College-level review, approval and signature for these agreements.
Agreements between UW-Madison entities and entities outside the university are known generally as "affiliation agreements." These define the terms and expectations of the parties involved to achieve particular goals, for a particular period.  Relatively few people at UW-Madison have the authority to sign documents that commit the University to pay another party for goods or services (as may happen as a component of a research project or contract for services), or that commit the University to engage in academic arrangements or obligations (such as scholarly exchanges or consortial agreements). This document is intended to offer guidance about how to ensure college-level involvement so these agreements are reviewed, approved, and signed by individuals with the authority to make these commitments.
Because these types of documents may be considered legal contracts, they should be reviewed by responsible parties to ensure that the university may fulfill the terms established in the document, that all parties that should know about the agreement and its terms are informed and agree, and that the proper on-campus representatives are signing on behalf of the University.  Documents that are not signed by people who are empowered as signature authorities may have no legal standing to be enforced, which can cause significant problems for the units seeking those arrangements. 
Signature Authority
The Office of Legal Affairs has issued a memorandum outlining institutional signature authority, listing who is responsible for signing different types of documents. Because this information is needed for many different purposes, it's found in several online locations; the updated version of this memo can always be found on the "Reports and Memos" area of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration website.  The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs also links to the memo, and the Office of Business Services also provides information about how to get a document signed by a university official.  
In general:
  • The Office of Legal Affairs must review any agreement that the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, or the Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services will sign. That process, including a link to the cover memo, is outlined here: .
  • When units in L&S seek signatures on these types of agreements, L&S Research Services and L&S Business Services should be involved.
  • L&S Research Services and Business Services will ensure that department chairs, program directors, or center directors, as well as their associate deans, are informed of agreements requiring VCVA or AVCBS signatures.
Academic Agreements
From time to time, affiliation agreements involve academic activity (e.g., student or faculty exchange, sharing of instruction, engagement in research involving instructional activity).  The Office of Legal Affairs has determined that, in addition to the signature of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration required for business contracts, some types of agreements that have an academic component require additional, college-level signatures that signal approval of the academic nature of the arrangement. For example, an agreement between a department and a clinical training site involves an educational aspect of a contractual relationship.
As a result of this change in policy, new agreements (signed January 2013 forward) require the signature of the dean's designee, the Academic Associate Dean responsible for the department/program.  In cases where the relationship may have financial implications for the department, program, or college, the Associate Dean will confer with the L&S Associate Dean for Budget, Planning and Administration.
International Agreements
All academic agreements between L&S units seeking affiliation or cooperation with foreign institutions must be reviewed and approved by the International Division, in addition to L&S.  Information about International Agreements (including contact information) can be found online.
Documents should be reviewed electronically before final versions are sent to the Associate Dean or Dean for signature.  International Agreements may also require official/certified translation, which may delay the process.
When physical copies are circulated for signature, please include a routing slip to indicate where the document should be sent after it is signed. Absent any specific instructions, L&S will forward signed agreements to Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Office for final approval.
L&S Contacts
The L&S Office of Research Services manages research-related and technology transfer agreements.
The L&S Business Office will review requests for payment for services across institutions.
For questions about academic and international academic agreements, contact Associate Dean for Academic Planning Elaine Klein ( or 265-8484)

Keywordssignature authority, consortial agreement, service contracts, steps for approval of standard affiliation agreements, international agreements   Doc ID36194
OwnerElaine K.GroupL&S KB
Created2013-12-23 12:52:57Updated2023-07-06 13:09:15
SitesL&S KB
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