Frequently Asked Questions

Access to the Office of General Counsel (“OGC”)

Whom does the OGC represent?

A:  OGC represents the legal interests of the University itself. In practice, this generally involves giving advice to the Vice-Chancellor, the Boards of Regents and Trustees, the provosts, deans and other members of the administration.  OGC serves as a resource for University committees associated with various University operations and programs, assists in the development and interpretation of University policies, reviews contracts to be signed on behalf of the University, and provides support for ongoing compliance initiatives, among other things.

Can I obtain personal legal advice and services from OGC?

A:  OGC does not provide personal legal services to University students or employees, but may be able to refer you to an area attorney.

Contracts

What do I do if I need to have a contract reviewed or prepared?

A:  Contact OGC for assistance in drafting or reviewing a contract.  For more information, see the University’s Contract Policy (Contract Policy)

Can I sign this agreement (contract / letter agreement / lease / purchase agreement) that’s on my desk?

A:  Only a limited number of employees have been delegated the authority to sign contracts on behalf of the University.  See the University’s Contract Policy (Contract Policy‌)

NOTE:  All contracts should be in the University's legal name:  The University of the South.  Do not use Sewanee: The University of the South.

Insurance Coverage/Defense for University-Related Lawsuits against Employees/Students

Specific questions about insurance coverage and requirements should be directed to Melinda Partin in the Office of the Treasurer (x1260 mpartin@sewanee.edu).  A few common insurance questions are addressed below.

Will the University defend me if I am sued for my activities as a University employee?

A:  As long as you were acting within the course and scope of your employment at and in the best interests of the University and with the agreement of our insurance carrier, the University has the discretion to provide a defense and coverage for you.

Are students covered by the University’s liability insurance?

A:  It depends on the specific facts of each situation and the terms of the insurance policy then in effect.

Insurance Coverage for Vehicle Use on University Business

Are employees and students covered by the University’s vehicle insurance when driving on University business?

A:  When you are driving a University-owned vehicle or a rented vehicle on University business, the University’s insurance normally will provide coverage.  The University’s insurance does NOT provide coverage to you when you are driving a privately-owned vehicle, even if on University business.

Outside Attorneys, Government / Law Enforcement Inquiries and Subpoenas

What do I do if I am contacted by an outside attorney regarding a University matter?

A:  All dealings with outside attorneys should be conducted through OGC.  If you are contacted by an attorney other than an OGC attorney, please refer him/her to OGC.  Similarly, please forward all inquiries from government/law enforcement agencies and legal process servers to OGC.

Political Activity

Are there any restrictions on political activities?

A:  Yes.  Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) requires, as a condition of the University’s tax exempt status, that the University (through its employees) “not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”  This prohibition is absolute, and includes use of any University resources (e.g., computers, telephones, email, or staff support), as well as distribution of statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office.

Another kind of prohibited political activity is attempting to influence legislation, commonly known as lobbying.  University resources must not be used for contacting, or urging the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or advocating the adoption or rejection of legislation.

In addition to loss of tax-exempt status, the University runs the risk of having excises taxes imposed on both on the University and its responsible managers, as well as the risk of federal or state government lawsuits, audits, and investigations.

The IRS allows University resources to be used to conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status.

Use of Name, Logos, or Marks

When may I use the University name or any of its logos or marks?

A:  Use of the University name or any of its logos or marks by University employees and students must conform to acceptable use policies administered by the Office of Marketing and Communications.  The University’s name, logos, and other marks must not be used by individuals or entities in a manner that implies University endorsement or responsibility for particular activities, products, or publications involved, or by any individual or group promoting itself, without the express written permission of the Office of Marketing and Communications. Any and all use of the University’s name, logos, or other marks for commercial purposes is prohibited unless approved in advance by the Office of Marketing and Communications.

Reporting of Various University-Related Matters

How do I report . . .?

Accident/Incident on Campus (not employee workplace injury):  Contact Melinda Partin in the Treasurer’s Office (x 1260).

Employee workplace injury:  Contact HR (x 1213)  or click here (Injury Report) and complete the form.

Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, or Retaliation:  Contact the Associate Provost (x 1172). Non-Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Policy

Fraudulent or Dishonest Conduct or other Violations of Law:  Contact OGC (x 1880) click here (Employee ProtectionWhistleblower Policy).