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Establishing a Formal Institutional-Level Partnership

The Process

Step One: Gather information

Determine the purpose and the details of the agreement you wish to establish. For example, with which institution do you wish to collaborate? What kind of collaboration would you like (e.g., student exchange, visiting scholars, etc.)? Should the agreement apply to a single department or include the entire college/school/unit, or university? What resources are involved? Will any money be changing hands, such as expense reimbursements? Having answers to such questions not only makes the process of drafting the agreement quicker, it also helps determine if a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that fits your specifications already exists.

Step Two: Determine if an agreement is already in place

Cornell has roughly 250 MOA on file with universities, institutes and NGOs around the world. Perhaps your needs are already addressed in an existing and active agreement. Before starting work on a new MOA, check if an existing collaboration already exists. A list of active MOA collaborations are available here (Cornell login required). If an agreement is already in place, Global Operations can help you determine if your contemplated activity can take place under the existing agreement(s) or if a new agreement will need to be negotiated. 

Step Three: Check with your college/school before initiating a new collaboration

If a new agreement is required for your collaboration, there could be an impact on university resources. Please contact your college/school dean (or, in instances of university-wide agreements, Global Operations) to discuss your intentions.

Step Four: Connect with your unit's contract administrator

Cornell has implemented a contract management platform to administer several types of international agreements, including international institutional collaborations (memorialized by Memoranda of Agreement, Project Agreements, Letters of Intent, Letter Agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, or any similar agreement, regardless of title).

These types of agreements must be initiated through one of your operating unit’s designated contract administrators. Your designated contract administrator will provide you with a form to collect the relevant collaboration information needed to draft the agreement(s).

Step Five: Negotiate the agreement

Once you receive the drafted agreement(s) from your contract administrator, you may work directly with your collaborator to negotiate the terms, or your contract administrator may offer a different option. International institutional collaborations must go through this process to ensure that both the relationship with the outside entity and the agreement itself are consistent with the mission and values of the university.

We understand that many institutions have their own standard language for these types of agreements and, with help from legal counsel, we work to develop terms that are acceptable to both parties. The contract administrator or faculty member is responsible for notifying the external university or institution of any required changes to the agreement.

Step Six: Finalize and obtain signatures

Once the agreement is finalized, it must be signed by your operating unit's authorized Cornell signatory and the comparable party at the collaborative institution before it is considered to be active.

The contract administrator will send the agreement(s) directly to the counterparty for signature, and upon receipt, ensure Cornell’s authorized signatory executes the agreement.

Both parties will receive a signed copy of the agreement via Cornell’s AdobeSign platform (unless a wet signature is required).