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CBELA Terms of Reference

The Committee on Benefactions and External and Legal Affairs (CBELA) (formerly entitled the Advisory Committee on Benefactions and External and Legal Affairs) is a standing committee of the Council.

The terms of reference of the Committee, last updated in June 2018, are as follows:



(1) to advise the Vice-Chancellor in respect of prospective donations over £1m to the University, or that are referred to it (including by Development and Alumni Relations and Cambridge in America) as being likely to give rise to significant public interest, whether such benefactions are acceptable on ethical or reputational grounds;

(2) to provide advice in response to requests from any College of the University as to whether the acceptance of any prospective donation or funding to the body making the request would be acceptable;


(3) to decide on behalf of the Council whether qualifying donors for membership of the Vice-Chancellor’s Circle and the Guild of Cambridge Benefactors are acceptable on ethical or reputational grounds;

(4) to maintain and keep under review guidelines governing the acceptability of donations and other funding to the University on ethical or reputational grounds; 

Naming of buildings, virtual entities, academic posts, studentships, and other entities


(5) to approve on behalf of the Council the prospective naming of buildings, virtual entities, academic posts, studentships, and other entities (such as prizes and awards) in accordance with policy approved by the Council from time to time;

Investment responsibility


(6) to keep the University’s policy on investment responsibility under review, to meet for this purpose with the University’s Chief Investment Officer and Director of Finance at least once a year, and to advise the Council regarding such revisions to the University’s policy on investment responsibility as the Committee may recommend from time to time;

Reputational and ethical concerns


(7) to provide advice on such issues of reputational, ethical, or similar concern as the Chair of the Committee may approve for consideration by the Committee from time to time;

External affairs


(8) to decide on behalf of the Council whether any source of funding referred to it by the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, the Research Operations Office, the Strategic Partnerships Office, or (with the approval of the Secretary) other University bodies is acceptable on ethical or reputational grounds;

(9) on behalf of the Council to approve policies and procedures in relation to
(i) the use of the University’s name and logo (coat of arms) for branding purposes; and
(ii) the registration, protection, and enforcement of the University’s trade marks and to determine any questions relating to the management or use of the University’s brand as may be referred to it by the Chair or Secretary of the Committee;

Legal affairs


(10) to exercise on behalf of the Council oversight of the University’s legal affairs, and to authorize on behalf of the Council the bringing, defence, or conduct of legal proceedings by or against the University.

Membership and standing orders

The membership of the Committee comprises the Vice-Chancellor (as Chair) and five other members of the Council: one from class (a) (Heads of Colleges), two from class (b) (Professors or Readers) or class (c) (other members of the Regent House), one from class (d) (student members), and one from class (e) (external members).

The Committee shall have power to co-opt up to two additional members of the Committee for renewable periods of two years. Co-opted members need not be employees of the University or a College or be eligible for membership of the Regent House.

The Committee may invite other persons to attend for the whole of meetings of the Committee or for particular items of business.

The member of the Committee drawn from class (e) (external members), or, in that member’s absence, such member of the Committee other than the Vice-Chancellor as may be appointed by agreement of the members of the Committee who are present, shall act as chair of the Committee in relation to business arising under (1) above.

No business may be transacted by the Committee unless a quorum of at least three members is in attendance.

In any vote each member in attendance at the meeting shall have a single vote and voting shall be decided by a simple majority of the members in attendance at the meeting.

The Committee may approve business between meetings of the Committee by circulation, save that no matter shall be approved by circulation if any member of the Board requests that it be called in for discussion at a meeting of the Committee.

To the extent that any business of the Committee concerning legal matters falls into categories (i), (ii), or (iii) of Special Ordinance A (vii) 5, and/or relates in any way to the personal affairs of a member of staff or a student, any such business shall be treated as reserved business, but otherwise business concerning legal matters shall not be reserved, except where the Vice-Chancellor declares otherwise on a case by case basis.

The Committee shall report to the Council through the minutes of its meetings and/or by such other means as the Council shall determine.

The Audit Committee shall receive an annual report of the activities of the Committee to monitor its effectiveness in dealing with questions of ethical and reputational risk.

Last revised June 2018