GAP 200.410, Faculty Discretionary Accounts Policy

  1. General
  2. Sources of Funds
  3. Use of Funds
  4. Inappropriate Uses of Funds
  5. Status of Discretionary Account When a Faculty Member Leaves Duke University
  6. Control of Discretionary Accounts




Faculty discretionary accounts are established and maintained within the individual schools of Duke University. This policy addresses the appropriate sources and uses of these funds, and the expected level of school and departmental oversight for use of these funds.

Exceptions to this policy may only be approved by the Chancellor, the Provost, or the Executive Vice President of Duke University.



Examples include:

  1. Honoraria paid to the University to recognize a particular faculty member's contribution (article, talk, manuscript or program review, etc.).
  2. Residuals from sponsored research agreements, provided the sponsor does not expect return of any residuals. The NIH, for example, would not allow use of the funds for anything other than the purpose for which the grant was directly funded.
  3. Gifts designated for the support of a particular faculty member, program or department and not otherwise restricted as to purpose.
    • All funds designated for a particular faculty member must be paid to Duke University and are thereafter to be used for activities consistent with the University's tax-exempt mission.
  4. Transfers of internal Duke funds initiated by department chair, dean or University officer.

If a faculty member consults for a for-profit entity (within the allowable time limits for consulting), the contract is between the individual and the corporation, and Duke is not involved. If the fees are to go to a faculty discretionary account at Duke, there needs to be an approved contract between the sponsor and Duke. However, honoraria for incidental effort in preparing or reviewing a manuscript, delivering a talk or seminar, participating in a program review, etc., can be paid to the University without a formal agreement.



Funds must be used for University purposes and items purchased of material value become property of the University. Expenditures from discretionary accounts must follow applicable University policies. Examples of allowable uses include:

  1. Support for research and scholarship not directly funded by sponsored research (may include personnel).
  2. Purchase of research and scholarship/work related items – computers, printers/fax machines, software, supplies, books and journals.
  3. Travel to professional meetings or to sites where research or other scholarly activity is conducted. Airline tickets should be coach for domestic travel and coach or business class for international travel, unless there is a documented medical condition that requires different accommodation.
  4. Dues for membership in professional associations.
  5. Backstop for unfunded University salary in the Schools of Medicine or Nursing, or for summer salary in the schools under the Provost.
  6. Meals and refreshments for lab group meetings, journal clubs, seminars, or recruiting dinners.
  7. With dean or chair approval, activities to boost group morale and internal communications (e.g. holiday parties). However, please refer to GAP 200.400, Employee Monetary Awards for guidance on using University funds for employee awards or employee gifts.



Examples include:

  1. Discretionary accounts should not be used for items of personal gain: Duke parking (for the individual or his/her staff), home equipment (except for computers, printers/fax machines purchased for Duke academic activities) or furniture, services not directly related to Duke activities, contributions to Iron Duke memberships, or athletic tickets. Business-related computers and other equipment, if purchased by discretionary funds, would be Duke property.
  2. Assistance provided to students, such as emergency personal loans or any other form of student aid awarded by a faculty member.
  3. University discretionary accounts cannot be used to backstop PDC or VA earnings or salary.
  4. Use of University funds to pay for membership in airline travel clubs (e.g. the Admiral's Club) is not allowed by University policy.
  5. Political meals or donations.
  6. Individual holiday gifts.
  7. Travel for family members or other non-Duke associates who are not involved in the research or scholarly work.



Since discretionary accounts are University funds, the funds remain the property of Duke upon departure of the faculty member, as do all items of material value purchased with the funds, including all computers purchased with the written approval of the appropriate dean or senior officer.



The management authority for discretionary accounts is with the dean, who in most cases delegates the authority to departments. Departments, in turn, generally permit management of the funds by faculty members.

It is, however, incumbent on responsible financial officers at the school, division and departmental level to provide oversight for use of the funds. In particular, they must ensure appropriate review and approval of financial statements, corporate card transactions, travel vouchers and the like occurs at an appropriate level.

A decision to use a discretionary account to backstop a salary or laboratory support may be made by the department chair or dean. Faculty appeals regarding departmental use of the discretionary accounts may be made in writing to the dean's office.