Campus News

Keep Carolina’s operations going with digital approvals

Interim guidelines on digital approvals will help employees manage Carolina’s business operations.

Drawing of two hands reaching through computer screen with one holding a pen and the other holding a document.
(Shutterstock image)

The University has issued interim guidance for faculty and staff on using digital signatures to approve certain documents such as university-wide and departmental forms and requests.

The guidelines will help keep Carolina’s daily business moving along, especially for employees who do not have access to a printer or scanner.

The Division of Finance and Operations, the Office of Ethics and Policy and Office of University Counsel provided the following guidelines:

Internal Approvals

Under normal operating procedures, the University maintains a number of administrative approval processes or internal forms requiring departmental or supervisor approval, an employee’s signature, or a student’s consent for internal control purposes (e.g. travel reimbursements, Medical Leave Request Form, release of educational records).  Departments may now obtain such internal approvals by electronic or digital means if the departments adopt processes to ensure they maintain appropriate documentation of the approvals.

For authentication purposes, the following types of digital approvals may be accepted:

  • A typewritten name or a graphic image of a signature verified by secure e-signature software (e.g. Docusign, AdobeSign).
  • A handwritten, typewritten, or graphic image of a signature placed on a document sent from the signer’s official UNC-CH email address.
  • A typewritten name, initials, or other approval method (e.g. digital checkbox) verified through ONYEN authentication.

The following types of digital approvals should not be accepted:

  • Documents originating from email addresses other than the signer’s email address
  • Text message
  • Social media communication
  • Any other unauthenticated method of communication

Signatures on University Contracts or Agreements

The Policy on Signing University Contracts enumerates the limited number of employees on campus who have been delegated authority from the Chancellor to sign contracts on behalf of the University or their department.  Those employees listed in the policy may sign the contracts for which they have been delegated such authority using an electronic signature as long as both parties to the agreement consent to using electronic signatures and no law or regulation specifically requires a wet ink signature (e.g. notarized documents, eviction notices, certain environmental reports).

Parties should use secure e-signature software (e.g. Docusign, AdobeSign) to authenticate third party signatures. This guidance does not expand the authority of any employee on campus to sign University or departmental contracts, letters of intent, MOUs, or other agreements requiring a University signature.

Should you have any questions about signing University contracts, please contact the Office of University Counsel.

Note: As the University’s operations and processes continue to change, this guidance may be updated.