Contract Basics

A contract is:

  • An oral or written agreement between two or more parties which is enforceable by law.
  • Any legally enforceable promise or set of promises made by one party to another.
  • An agreement regarding mutual responsibilities between two or more parties.
  • An agreement between competent parties to do or not do certain things for consideration.

The Office of Sponsored Programs handles many types of research contracts.  The Clinical and Corporate Contract team handles most industry contracts providing funding as well as many non-financial agreements to transfer materials, data and information.  As each agreement will be tailored to the project as described on the completed submission form, it is important to read the terms of the finalized agreement and keep the provided copy of the executed agreement on file for reference purposes.

Once negotiated by the Clinical and Corporate team, some contracts may require the signature of the principal investigator (PI). As the PI is not listed as a party to the contract, the PI signs under a Read and Understood heading, acknowledging that he/she has read the terms of the contract and understands his/her responsibilities.  Generally, the PI is able to provide this signature electronically via DocuSign; however, in cases where the other party has specific signing requirements, those requirements must be followed.

Authorized Signatories for Executing University Research Contracts

The University's Board of Trustees has identified certain individuals within the Office of Sponsored Programs who have been authorized to sign research contracts on behalf of the University. The Vice Chancellor for Sponsored Programs and Research Operations, Senior Associate Director, Associate Directors, and Assistant Directors of the Office of Sponsored Programs serve as these Authorized Signatories. Only those authorized by our University can legally bind the University to the terms contained in the research contracts.  Investigators are not authorized to sign research contracts on behalf of the University, and in doing so, can potentially be held personally (and solely) responsible for any legal or business issues related to the research agreement.