Signing Ceremony Protocol for Non-Binding International MOUs

Signing ceremonies are events in which authorized signatories to an approved agreement meet in person to sign the document. Such events are generally proposed for purposes of goodwill; they are not required to execute or implement an agreement. Berkeley staff, faculty, and external partners should be advised that Berkeley prefers to recognize accomplishments that result from relationships rather than the symbolic signing of MOUs or other agreements.

Campus-level signing ceremonies are rare and held at the discretion of the Chancellor, Senior International Officer, or other designated signatory. For more information about designated signatories, please review GEO’s MOU guidelines.

Prior to planning an international MOU signing ceremony, please first secure approval from your Department chair, dean, or senior representative (Vice Chancellor or equivalent). Once the representative has approved the decision to explore a signing ceremony, please contact the Global Engagement Office (GEO) for the next step and further guidance. 

Some factors to weigh when choosing whether to consider a signing ceremony on our campus, or to attend a ceremony abroad, include:

Involvement of Senior Administration:

  • Signing ceremonies with senior administration on campus will only be considered with at least 6-8-weeks notice. This is to ensure that international MOUs will be reviewed and approved by UC Berkeley and the international partner at least four weeks prior to the in-person ceremony.
  • The Chancellor, Provost, and other senior administrators will attend signing ceremonies based on assessment of the supporting administrative unit responsible for the agreement (GEO and/or others as necessary), as well as his/her availability. For the Chancellor’s consideration, 16-18 weeks notice is recommended. Please be advised that even early planning does not guarantee the Chancellor or senior administration’s attendance. If and when the Chancellor is not able to attend a signing ceremony, the Senior International Officer or other campus representative may be able to step in on behalf of the Chancellor for the in-person signing. Such participation is not always guaranteed. At the request of senior administration, photographs may be prohibited.
  • Non-binding international MOUs must include a signature from the Chancellor or Senior International Officer. If both the Chancellor and Senior International Officer are not available, the MOU must be pre-signed by the authorized representative prior to the public ceremony.  An additional signature line may be added for the Senior Leader (EVCP, VCR, or Dean) who will be in attendance and co-signing on behalf of UC Berkeley during the event. If applicable, GEO will prepare the MOU and secure any necessary signatures prior to the signing ceremony.

Public Affairs implications:  Explorations of high-level international partnerships often come with expectations of some kind of press release or event on the partner’s side, regardless of whether the agreement is binding or non-binding, and regardless of how early in the exploratory process the partnership may be. To avoid surprise press releases by the partners, faculty or staff exploring the relationship should work with campus External Relations, Public Affairs, or their own unit’s communications group to set appropriate expectations early and determine the best method of review and approval at UC Berkeley, and the best method of acknowledgment/media release.

Funding and use of resources: there is no central funding available to support signing ceremonies. The faculty representative is responsible for consulting with their unit leadership, and GEO, to determine whether any proposed expenditure of funds is appropriate. Items marked with **, below, indicate some possible expenses associated with signing ceremonies.

Logistical support: The faculty or staff representative is responsible for coordinating signing ceremonies that they propose to occur at Berkeley. Such coordination typically entails, at a minimum:

  • Planning the agenda and talking points.
  • Securing the participation of the agreement signatories and any desired speakers.
    • GEO will obtain the signatures of UC Berkeley senior administration signatories who cannot attend.

  • Providing briefing notes to the speakers, signatories, and GEO (if applicable) a minimum of one week before the event. Including:
    • Background on former/current ties to the partner university.

    • A summary of the proposed collaborations.

    • Specific talking points that the speakers should include in their remarks.

    •  A brief biography for each member of the visiting party.

    • The event agenda.

  • Reserving meeting space for the event.**
  • Inviting deans, chairs, ORU directors, faculty or others with an interest in the collaboration to attend as appropriate.
  • Providing meals or refreshments, if desired.**
  • Purchasing a gift(s) for our signatories to give the visiting signatories.**
    • International partners are often accustomed to an exchange of gifts among signatories. Check with your partner university contact to determine whether a gift exchange is expected, and if so, among which signatories.

    • UC Berkeley logo gifts are available in the Berkeley student store. Some options include: silk tie or scarf, lapel pin, ballpoint pen, or business card holder, depending upon your budget and the position of the visiting signatory (e.g. president vis-à-vis dean).

  • Serving in the role of host for the event, or securing a designate to serve as the host to coordinate the event logistics.
  • Notifying relevant communications/public affairs offices so that they are aware of any new partnerships or potential announcements (including announcements from partners) and can respond to press inquiries.

Additionally, it is recommended that the event planner provide the following to the visiting party:

  • A cell phone number for last minute communications.
  • Detailed maps and directions to campus.
  • A reserved parking spot.**
  • Staff to greet the visiting party in the parking lot when they first arrive on campus.
  • Escorts to/from any additional meetings.

For additional guidance on signing ceremonies or international agreements, contact GEO at