Signature Authority

The University of Tennessee bylaws specify that only the president, vice presidents, or other officials to whom delegated authority has been granted may legally bind the University in contractual agreements. Only purchasing officers are authorized to sign and issue purchase orders to acquire goods and commercial services. Agreements, contracts, or purchase orders signed by other University employees are null and void and do not obligate the University to pay for goods or services.

Who is Authorized to Sign A Contract or Agreement?

Authority to sign contracts or agreements on behalf of the University is granted only to the president, vice presidents or certain campus officials that have been given delegated authority as detailed in UT Fiscal Policy FI0420. This applies to all types of documents including, but not limited to:

  • leases
  • purchase agreements
  • rental agreements
  • Service/maintenance agreements
  • hotel room agreements
  • facility use agreements
  • research agreements (including, also, material transfer agreements and confidentiality agreements)

Additionally, this policy applies even if a transaction involved is below the $10,000 purchasing limit (or if no money is involved) or if a purchase order has been issued to cover a transaction.

NOTE: University personnel should be aware that personal liability and disciplinary action, up to and including termination, could result from signing a contract, agreement, or purchase order without having formal delegated authority. Departmental personnel should contact Purchasing Services for guidance if they are approached by vendor representatives to sign any type of agreement.

Contracts, leases, rental agreements, etc., involving equipment, supplies, equipment maintenance, or commercial services, regardless of dollar amount, must be submitted to Purchasing Services for handling. When necessary, Purchasing will obtain proper administrative approval. Contracts for personal, professional, or consultant services must be processing through the Business a Contracts office. Research contracts must be processed through Research Administration.

Call Us If You Have Any Questions!

Should you have any questions pertaining to contracts or agreements or if you are aware of any such documents within your department that have been signed by unauthorized personnel, please contact the appropriate person listed below:

Michelle Newman
Contracts for equipment, supplies, or commercial services

Ms. Sandra Pulliam
Contracts for personal, professional, or consulting services

Dr. Debbie Smith
Research contracts, sub-awards, or material transfer agreements

I Need to Buy Guide

Buying and Paying Guide

Contact Us

Procurement Services

847 Monroe, Suite 205
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: 901-448-5594
Fax: 901-448-8028