FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)


WHO DOES THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL REPRESENT?
Tuskegee University’s Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice, legal representation and related services to the university and its employees in their official capacities and to accomplish their institutional objectives. The university represents a single legal entity, and as result, the Office of the General Council advises trustees, the president, provost, administrators and employees on various issues impacting the university.

WHAT TYPE OF LEGAL SERVICES DOES THE GENERAL COUNSEL'S OFFICE PROVIDE?
The Office of the General Counsel is responsible for providing the university with a full range of legal services in a variety of practice areas. Where specialized legal expertise is required, the Office of the General Counsel will seek and collaborate with outside counsel on the university’s behalf.

HOW CAN I CONTACT THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL?
The Office of the General Counsel is located at 320 Kresge Center. We can be reached by phone at 334.727.8872, by fax at 334.727.4453 or by email at choffman@tuskegee.edu.

TO WHAT ADDRESS SHOULD I MAIL LEGAL CORRESPONDENCE FOR THE UNIVERSITY’S CONSIDERATION, OR WHERE SHOULD PROCESS SERVERS BE DIRECTED TO SERVE SUBPOENAS, SUMMONSES AND OTHER LEGAL DOCUMENTS?
The Office of General Counsel's physical and mailing address is 320 Kresge Center, 1200 W. Montgomery Rd., Tuskegee, AL 36088

CAN I RETAIN OUTSIDE COUNSEL FOR A UNIVERSITY MATTER?
No, only the Office of the General Counsel can retain outside counsel or submit legal bills to the Controller’s Office for payment by the university. If you believe outside counsel is needed for a university matter, you should contact the office, which will determine whether outside counsel is necessary and appropriate. If so, the office will retain an outside attorney it believes is appropriate for the matter.

AM I INDEMNIFIED (PROTECTED AGAINST LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS) IF I AM SUED IN CONNECTION WITH UNIVERSITY BUSINESS?
Generally, yes, as long as you are acting in good faith and in the immediate scope of your job.

IS WHAT I TELL EMPLOYEES OF THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL CONFIDENTIAL?
It is privileged as to third parties, but not as to other university officials. Therefore, our team will try to keep information you share confidential to the extent it can.

CAN THE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL REPRESENT OR GIVE LEGAL ADVICE TO INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEES OR STUDENTS ON NON-UNIVERSITY MATTERS?
No, the Office of the General Counsel represents the university. Its staff works only on university-related matters and with designated employees whose duties relate to the legal matter under consideration.

I NEED TO HAVE A CONTRACT OR SIMILAR DOCUMENT SIGNED BY THE UNIVERSITY? WHO HAS AUTHORITY TO SIGN IT?
In a majority of cases, only the university’s president or general counsel is empowered to execute contractual relationships on behalf of Tuskegee University. For more guidance on this process, review the "Contract Process" section of the office's Policies and Documents page.

DOES THE UNIVERSITY EVER CONSIDER USING ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION — MEDIATION OR ARBITRATION — INSTEAD OF GOING TO COURT?
In certain cases, mediation or arbitration — before the American Arbitration Association (AAA) or Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) — may be appropriate. But, unless the contract stipulates that disputes will be resolved by mediation or arbitration, we would not be able to go to arbitration or mediation unless both sides agree. Arbitration or mediation may be considered in matters involving one or more of the following criteria: the need for a relatively speedy and binding decision, where confidentiality is important; commercially related disputes; and where the dispute could best be resolved by an expert.

I HAVE BEEN CONTACTED BY A THIRD PARTY AND ASKED TO PROVIDE A COPY OF A STUDENT’S TRANSCRIPT OR OTHER ACADEMIC RECORDS. DO I HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO ACCESS THESE FILES AND FULFILL THE THIRD PARTY’S REQUEST?
Normally, no. Although a school official — including a member of the faculty — may have access to and obtain a copy of a student's education record for a legitimate educational interest, ordinarily the student's education record is confidential and cannot be viewed, accessed or released without the student's explicit permission. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, also known as FERPA or the Buckley Amendment, is a federal law that limits the disclosure of a student's education record or enrollment status in order to safeguard the privacy of such information.

Disclaimer

Legal resources on our website provide useful information and direction to accommodate those engaged in official university matters, but should not be interpreted as "legal advice" from the Office of General Counsel. The materials provided on this website are for informational purposes only. Unless otherwise indicated, this information does not change or affect any policy, rule or regulation of Tuskegee University.