Signatory Authority

The Provost and a select group of others at the University are the only individuals at Columbia with the authority to sign certain contracts, agreements, documents, and other instruments between the University and third parties. Deans and others who have been delegated with signatory authority receive a letter with this information from the Provost, pursuant to the authority given to him by resolution of the University Trustees, specifying the particular types of documents that they may sign. Such authority must be renewed annually. 

All are required to abide by the following University rules regarding signatory authority:

  • The Provost is the sole signatory for all agreements/MOUs relating to educational programs, whether domestic or international, with the following four exceptions in which Deans may sign:
    • Internships, clinical placements, practica, travel, and short-term non-credit educational enrichment programs.
    • Executive (non-credit) education co-sponsored by an external entity.
    • Study abroad agreements/MOUs managed by the Office of Global Programs, in which Columbia students take Columbia courses for Columbia credit, and there are agreements with international partners that describe use of facilities or other services. (However, for any study abroad agreements specifying that Columbia students earn credit from a partner institution (not Columbia), the agreement must be signed by the Provost.)
    • Agreements/MOUs that dictate guidelines for a short-term research engagement for a handful of named students and/or faculty (i.e.,1-5 in total)
  • Offers of appointment to tenure require that the Provost recommend tenure to the President and the Board of Trustees, and that the President and Trustees give their approval. Any draft offer of appointment sent prior to these necessary approvals should clearly state in the opening paragraph that the offer is conditional upon the approval of the President and Board of Trustees, and should not otherwise convey a promise or expectation of tenure until tenure has been formally approved.
  • References to University faculty housing in offers of appointment must conform to the eligibility rules that govern access to University housing. Only the Provost has authority to assign specific apartments.
  • Overseas gifts are subject to review by the International Gift Review Committee (IGRC), chaired by the Provost, whose primary task is to assess potential reputational risk to the University from gifts from foreign individuals and organizations. When there is doubt or an absence of information, consultation is advised with the IGRC prior to approaching potential donors or soliciting gifts to avoid difficulties later on.
  • The Departmental Authorization Function (DAF) relating to the authorization of departmental expenditures and procurement is overseen by Controller’s Office; signatory authority for such expenditures is managed by that office.
  • Deans and others who have been delegated with signatory authority from the Provost must continue to provide all goods and services contracts to the University’s Purchasing Office for review prior to execution, including, but not limited to: hotel and event agreements, Material Transfer Agreements (MTA’s), Non-disclosure Agreements (NDA’s), Institutional Agreements, etc.
  • Columbia Technology Ventures (CTV) is Columbia’s chief office for managing intellectual property, and its main mission is the licensing of inventions. For strategic reasons related to licensing, CTV may on occasion execute inter-institutional agreements, research agreements, or other related agreements. CTV also manages all MTAs except for those involving human or human-derived material.
  • All sponsored research proposals and resulting awards must be signed on behalf of the University by certain designated officers in Sponsored Projects Administration; except industry sponsored clinical research and clinical trial proposals and agreements, which are signed by designated officers in the Clinical Trials Office; and certain industry sponsored non-clinical research agreements, which are signed by designated officers in Columbia Tech Ventures. In addition, certain agreements relating to human subjects research may be signed by designated officers in the Human Research Protection Office. Vice presidents, deans, directors, department chairs or other officers of the University are not authorized to act as signatories for any such proposals, awards or agreements.

If you have further questions about signatory authority pertaining to educational programs, please see:

If you have further questions about signatory authority pertaining to procurement services, please see:

If you have further questions about signatory authority pertaining to sponsored projects, please see the Sponsored Projects Handbook:

If you have further questions about signatory authority pertaining to intellectual property or technology transfer, please see  You may also find relevant information in the Sponsored Projects Handbook, Chapter IV: Preparing a Sponsored Project Proposal, “Allocation of Responsibilities for Miscellaneous Research Agreements.”