Institute Affairs Policies

Approval and Signing Authority

California State law vests the authority of management of the Institute in the Board of Trustees. Accordingly, the Board of Trustees provides that:

  1. The President, or his designee, shall have the authority to sign contracts and documents in the name of the Institute, except to the extent such authorization is restricted by the Board of Trustees.
  2. The Vice Presidents shall be administrative officers of the Institute with such powers and duties as are delegated to them by the President.

Agreements between the Institute and external entities in which the Institute provides goods, services, or other deliverables in return for consideration are commitments that bind the Institute.  In general, they must be executed by an Officer of the Institute.  Corporate officer’s are appointed annually by the Board of Trustees.  This is designed to ensure that external engagements are consistent with the goals and objectives of the Institute, are priced adequately and correctly and do not expose the Institute to unacceptable financial or legal risks.

The authority granted by the Board of Trustees has been refined by specific limitations of authority as set forth in this policy.

This policy:

  1. Defines the monetary thresholds for approval authority for transactions which commit or expend Institute funds.
  2. Sets forth principles for guidance to operating units in implementing approval authority practices and procedures.
  3. Specifies those decisions requiring Board and/or institutional approval.

Purchases/Capital Projects

Consistent with the Institute’s budget plan and objectives (the construction of new buildings and additions, alterations or renovations to existing buildings as well as to site services and landscaping):

Approval authority for this category of transactions is based on dollar value.  A transaction is any act which binds or commits the Institute.  The size of a transaction is its collective amount over the entire period of commitment.

Up to $50,000 – requires approval by a dean or department head.  The dean or department head may delegate this authority to an authorized signer(s) within the school or department.  Deans and department heads will submit an authorized signer form to accounts payable annually to define this authority.

$50,001 to $250,000 – requires approval by the President, Treasurer/CFO, Assistant Treasurer/Controller or Vice President Operations.  All transactions must be approved by an authorized person other than the one who initiated the purchase or project.

$250,001 to $750,000 – requires approval by the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee.  At the next meeting, the Board of Trustees will be informed of the approval of these transactions.

Over $750,000 – requires approval by the Board of Trustees

Contracts for Services/Equipment Leases/Settlement Agreements

Consistent with the Institute’s budget plan and objectives.

Approval authority for this category of transactions is based on dollar value.  The size of a transaction is its collective amount over the entire period of commitment.

Up to $50,000 – must be approved and signed by the CFO/Treasurer or the Assistant Treasurer/Associate Vice President and Controller in the absence of the CFO.  An exception can be made with contracts for services if CalArts standard personal services contract is used.  Officers, deans and department heads may approve and sign a standard CalArts contract for services. 

$50,001 to $250,000 – requires approval by the President, Treasurer/CFO, Assistant Treasurer/Controller or Vice President Operations.  All transactions must be approved by an authorized person other than the one who initiated the transaction.

$250,000 to $750,000 – requires approval by the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee.  At the next meeting, the Board of Trustees will be informed of the execution of these transactions.

Over $750,000 – requires approval by the Board of Trustees

Contractual Obligations to Provide Goods or Services (new business opportunities)

Consistent with the Institute’s budget plan and objectives - commitments require review by the CFO/Treasurer.  The CFO/Treasurer will submit a recommendation to the President or Provost for final approval and signature.  At the next meeting, the Finance Investment and Audit Committee will be informed of the execution of these transactions.

Approval Authority for Specific Transactions

Consistent with the Institute’s budget plan and objectives:

Borrowing Resolutions:

  1. Borrowing resolutions require approval of the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee. 
  2. Lines of credit require approval of the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee.
  3. Letters of credit require approval of the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee.
  4. Extensions of approved lines of credit or letters of credit require approval by the President, Treasurer/CFO, Assistant Treasurer/Associate Vice President and
  5. Controller or Vice President for Operations
  6. Any new borrowing will be reported to the Board of Trustees at the next regular meeting.

Banking Relationships (new) - requires approval by the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee. 

Banking – new bank accounts require approval by the President, Treasurer/CFO, Assistant Treasurer/Controller or Vice President Operations.  At the next meeting, the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee will be informed of the execution of these transactions.

Investment Policy and Contracts – The Board of Trustees has delegated the responsibility for investment activity to the Investment Subcommittee of the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee.  Please refer to the CalArts’ Investment Portfolio Policy for details.

Retirement Plan Consultants and Service Providers - requires approval by the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee. 

Audit Services – The full Board of Trustees will select the independent outside audit firm of the Institute, following recommendations from the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee.  Once the audit firm has been approved by the Board of Trustees, the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee of the Board will approve the annual audit engagement.

Real Estate Transactions (including acquisitions, sales, leases etc.) - require approval by the Board of Trustees

Compensation – the President’s contract and related compensation decisions require approval of the Executive Committee acting as the Compensation Committee.  Compensation for officers of the Institute requires approval by the President and will be reported to the Executive Committee.

Payroll Services (new vendor) – requires approval by the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee. 

Gift Policy - requires approval by the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee or the Executive Committee.   

Retention of Legal Counsel – requires approval by the President.

Insurance Contracts – requires approval by the President, Treasurer/CFO, Assistant Treasurer/Controller or Vice President Operations.

Fundraising Campaigns – requires approval by the Board of Trustees.

Trademark – requires approval by the President and the Chairman of the Board.

Institute Seal – is to be used by either the CFO/Treasurer or the Board Secretary.

Non-monetary Documents/Contracts – require signature by an officer of the Institute.

Check Signing

(refers to any disbursement method, including but not limited to wire transfer and payments via the internet):

Persons holding the following positions will have check signing authority:

  • President
  • Provost
  • Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer
  • Associate Vice President and Controller, Assistant Treasurer
  • Vice President of Institutional Advancement
  • Associate Provost
  • Vice President Operations and Chief Information Officer
  • Associate Vice President Facilities and Administration
  • Director of Human Resources

All disbursements require proper departmental/budget approval and appropriate review by the accounting office based on internal control procedures for the cash disbursements cycle. 

Any of the above authorized persons may sign a check up to $1,000.  A facsimile or mechanical signature may be used in lieu of a manual signature for checks up to $1,000.  Proper approval and review must have been completed prior to the signature of any check.

Any check greater than $1,000 requires 2 manual signatures.

Changes to this document require approval by the Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees.

Policy Category:
Adopted Date:
Mar 2012