Standard for Expenditures from Distinguished Professorship Funds


Donor-restricted gifts initially made to a University foundation and endowment earnings allowing discretionary spending are considered “discretionary funds” under University Policy 601.8, “Appropriate Use of University Funds” (the “Use of Funds Policy”).  The purpose of this standard is to address appropriate uses of donor-restricted funds made available to UNC Charlotte distinguished professors and to provide procedures for college and departmental oversight for the use of such funds in order to ensure sound and consistent business practices, timely and accurate recording of expenses, prudent use of University funds, and compliance with tax regulations under the Internal Revenue Code.


This standard applies to all expenditures made from donor-restricted discretionary funds made available for use by UNC Charlotte distinguished professors.


Direct any general questions about this standard to your department’s business officer or fund administrator. If you have specific questions, please refer to the contacts for fund use guidance listed in Appendix 1 of the University’s Financial Management Guidelines.


  1. General spending restrictions: As provided in the Use of Funds Policy, the overarching principles for expenditures of all University funds, including endowed funds, are that: (1) the expenditure must have a University business purpose, (2) the expenditure must be proper and must appear to be proper by external constituents, and (3) the expenditure must be reasonable. Expenditures must follow all university policies that apply to that type of expenditure and must be accompanied by appropriate documentation, including receipt(s), purpose, date, location, and names of persons involved.
    1. Examples of allowable expenditures:
      • Support for research, scholarship, and creative activities not directly funded by sponsored research grants (including personnel charges not allowable on the grant).
      • Purchase of items such as computers, printers, software, supplies, books and journals that benefit research, scholarship, and creative activity. If discretionary funds are used to purchase tangible, non-consumable items, those items are University property even though they may be for the exclusive use of the individual faculty member. If items are no longer needed for University purposes, they must be handled in accordance with the University’s surplus property procedures.
      • Travel to professional meetings or sites where research, performances, or other scholarly activity is conducted. Travel must comply and be documented consistent with the requirements of University Policy 602.7, “Travel Authorization and Reimbursement” and the University’s Travel Manual.
      • Graduate stipends or student hourly wages for students directly supporting the work of the distinguished professor.
      • Dues  for membership in professional associations, with the understanding that lifetime memberships should rarely be purchased (and then only with the approval of the department chair).
      • Meals and refreshments for lab group meetings, journal clubs, seminars, or recruiting dinners.
      • Awards and gifts in accordance with University Policy 602.11, “Gifts, Awards and Prizes.”
    2. Examples of impermissible expenditures:
      • Items of personal benefit, including university parking fees and tickets, library late fees, home equipment (except for equipment purchased for University activities), home furniture, or services not directly related to University activities.
      • Assistance provided directly to students, such as emergency personal loans or any other form of student aid awarded by a faculty member.
      • Additional Compensation (as defined in University Policy 101.15) for the faculty member, other than approved summer salary.
      • Membership in airline travel clubs.
      • Political activities, including meals or donations associated with such activities.
      • As with other personal expenses, personal travel is not a permissible expenditure. For example, travel to a professional conference contributes to the faculty member’s scholarship and is an appropriate use of discretionary funds. However, travel to and from a vacation home is a personal expense, even if a faculty member works on their research while there. 
      • Travel for family members or other individuals who are not involved in the faculty member’s research or scholarly work.
      • Mobile communication devices or plans.
  2. Spending specific restrictions: As indicated in the Use of Funds Policy, expenditures from donated funds must also adhere to specified donor restrictions.
  3. Management of fund expenditures: Management authority for discretionary fund expenditures resides with college deans, who may further delegate that authority within their college, including to department chairs of the holders of the distinguished professorships. In all instances, it is critical to remember that discretionary funds are University funds and should be used only for the purpose of furthering UNC Charlotte’s mission through the work of its faculty. As impermissible expenditures may result in personal liability, faculty are highly encouraged to seek advice from their department chair and/or business officer before making an expenditure if they have any doubts as to its permissibility.

    It is incumbent on responsible financial administrators at the college and departmental levels to provide oversight on the use of distinguished professorship funds. In particular, financial administrators must ensure appropriate review and approval of financial statements, all purchases, and expense reports, and monitor spending to ensure that discretionary funds are not in deficit.

    College deans have final authority over and responsibility for decisions regarding the permissibility of any expenditure using distinguished professorship funds.

Related Resources

Revision History

  • Initially approved February 1, 2024