Spending Policy for Faculty using College Funds

The Senior Staff of the College has approved guidelines for the use of faculty travel and research funds.  These policies govern divisional research funds, travel funds, start-up research accounts, named chair accounts, fellowship accounts, and grant funded research.  The goal of these policies is to facilitate faculty research and teaching efforts while complying with IRS regulations and managing our financial resources most effectively.

The following list provides several common examples of allowable expenses.

  • transportation, lodging, and meals for business travel
  • professional conference fees
  • dues to professional organizations
  • subscriptions to journals or other publications relevant to your teaching or research
  • desk supplies for your office at the College
  • compensation of student research assistants (hourly and/or stipend)
  • compensation of professional editors or research assistants
  • copyright fees and publication subvention
  • books, reprints, scores, photographs, films, software, recordings and other items related to your teaching or research
  • continuing education such as coursework, seminars, and workshops relevant to your teaching or research

The overarching rule of thumb is that business expenses are allowed while personal expenses are not.  The distinction between business and personal expenses is in most cases obvious, but there are a few questions that come up time and again.

Family or companion expenses.  Research funds can be used to pay for faculty business travel but cannot be used to offset the costs of having a spouse/partner or dependent travel with you.  Nor can they pay for family or pet care in your absence.

Home office.  Research funds can be used to furnish, improve or maintain your office at the College, but should not be used to furnish, improve or maintain an office at home.  Faculty should coordinate the purchase of office furnishings for their campus offices with the Facilities department.

Computer equipment.  The College provides all faculty members with a computer, either a desktop or a laptop, for use at work. Loaner computers for short-term secondary use are also available from OIT or the library. While College funds should not be used to purchase a computer or computing peripherals just for use at home, a second personal computer is sometimes necessary to facilitate research in the field or lab, or teaching in the classroom. In those cases faculty members should submit a Personal Electronic Device Form prior to making the purchase. In addition, faculty members should coordinate the purchase of all computer equipment with OIT.

Other electronic devices.  As with extra computers, purchases of other kinds of electronic devices must be pre-authorized. The College allows the purchase of tablets (e.g. iPads or Androids), e-readers (e.g. Kindle or Nook) and laptops so long as their use is primarily for academic, research, or business purposes. However, this policy does not include cell / smart phones (see below for more on cell phones). Also, because extensive wi-fi coverage is available on campus, the College ordinarily will not cover the cost of a cellular data plan for any device. For more information, see the policy and procedures statement regarding personal electronic devices.

Ownership of equipment. Any equipment, software, or other durable resources (including computers, furniture, digital cameras, iPads, lab/studio tools, etc.) purchased with College and grant research funds are the property of Williams College and remain so when a faculty member leaves Williams. 

Internet connectivity fees. The cost of connecting while traveling for business can be covered, but not for connecting from home.

Cell phones. Smart phones, cell phones, and cell phone bills are not normally covered. See the Communication Device Policy.

Per diem. Itemized receipts are required for all expenses incurred while traveling.  The College does not maintain a per diem reimbursement plan unless you are traveling to multiple sites on business for more than 30 consecutive days (check with the Controller before your trip).

Everyday living expenses.  Faculty who travel on sabbatical or an assistant professor leave and who settle into one location for an extended residency are expected to bear the expense of routine living expenses (e.g., groceries, dry cleaning, day care for children, etc.), just as they would if they were living in Williamstown.

Relocation. College funds should not be used for personal relocation or moving expenses within or beyond Williamstown.  However, they can be used to ship or transport personal belongings during a sabbatical or an assistant professor leave, not to exceed those items needed for the faculty member to carry out his or her scholarship or creative work away from Williamstown.