Entertainment, Gifts, Floral, Recruitment & Travel

(Effective January 1, 2019)


This policy governs business meals, faculty/staff recruitment and morale events and other business entertainment expenses. Please note expenses exceeding $100 per person are not allowable without prior approval from the Dean’s Finance Office. Email requests to bphelps@wustl.edu.

All expenses are subject to University and School of Medicine policies regardless of funding source (including faculty discretionary funds) unless a more restrictive policy applies.

Business entertainment expenses:

  • Between $50 and $750 require Department Chair approval and can be delegated to business managers and an alternate designated by the business manager.
  • Greater than $750 require approval by the Dean’s Finance Office.


The University travel policy must be followed for business travel. Please refer to the University travel policy:


University Tax Exempt Status:

Washington University is generally exempt from Federal income tax as an educational and charitable institution under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The University is also generally exempt from state income tax. Exemption certificates requires staff/faculty WUSTL key to access.

For additional information, please reference:



No person may approve his or her own expense reimbursement, or the expense reimbursement of an individual to whom he or she reports either directly or indirectly.

In the School of Medicine, approval must be at the next level up. Department Chairperson and Program Directors travel must be approved by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean. The Business Manager’s travel must be approved by the Department Chairperson or academic Program Director. Travel of the directors of non-academic departments must be approved by the Assistant or Associate Dean to whom they report.


The School of Medicine does not allow reimbursement for birthday celebrations, baby and wedding showers, and Boss’ day. The associated gifts related to such events are also non-allowable.

Gifts for birthdays, showers, Administrative and Boss’s days, Christmas or other holidays are not a reimbursable expense.


Gifts from one department to another or one employee (including faculty) to another are not allowable. (This includes Admin Day gifts and flowers). Employee morale “gifts” from the Department/Division are allowable (up to $75).

Alcohol Guidelines:

The School of Medicine conforms with the University’s Alcohol Policy:


For additional information, please reference:


Alcohol for events in Shared Spaces must be purchased and served through a third-party catering vendor. Please reference https://meet.wustl.edu to determine if the space must conform to the third-party catering requirements. The School of Medicine purchaser must send the completed alcohol registration form, and the vendor must provide a copy of their valid liquor license for the event and a certificate of liability insurance. These documents must be on file for events and meetings in any of the WUSM shared spaces in order to receive approval. If a non-preferred third-party vendor is used, evidence of the required permits, licenses, and insurance must be submitted to https://meet.wustl.edu prior to the space being confirmed.

Employee Meals:

Meals for employees are not normally reimbursed. Exceptions are approved for meetings scheduled during meal times. Please state the Medical School related business purpose for the meeting. General statements such as “Department Meeting” or “Office Meeting” are not accepted.

Employee Morale:

One Holiday event and two other informal events are allowable.

  • These do not include school-wide Employee Appreciation Day or the University Length of Service Award Program.
  • The total amount of the one Holiday event, including rentals, food, gratuities, decorations and entertainment, should not exceed $100 per person without prior approval from the Dean. Please use the Social Expense Worksheet for functions with multiple vendors or payments.
  • These functions may be held at the department, office or division. If a function is held at one level, expenditures for a similar function at another level for the same group of employees will not be reimbursed, so please clearly state the departmental practice.
  • Gifts at employee morale events should not exceed $75 per person and can be given to those who are unable to attend
  • Inclusion of non-employees, such as spouses, residents, fellows, students, and employees of affiliated institutions is allowable.


Farewell/Retirement receptions costing up to $100 per person may be held for employees leaving the University with three or more years of service or for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees who have completed their training. Receptions for employees with less than 3 years of service should be limited to less than $10/per person for refreshment costs.

Following are the gift guidelines for individuals leaving the University:

  • Staff members with 3-10 years of service: $100
  • Staff members with more than 10 years of service: $250
  • Director level staff: Up to $500
  • Faculty: Up to $500

Tangible gifts exceeding $75 will be reported as taxable by the University. Please provide the name of the employee and the number of years the employee has worked for the School of Medicine, including the department name, title or job function. A gift card, gift certificate or cash are taxable income to the employee regardless of amount or purpose.The Gift, Prize or Award Form must be completed for reporting purposes.



Functions associated with recruitment should not exceed $100 per person without prior approval from the Dean. The School of Medicine policy provides for reimbursement for spouses only if the candidate’s spouse is in attendance. Receptions and dinners to introduce a new faculty member and spouse to the other members of the department are also approved. The names of those in attendance are required.

Graduation Dinners:

Graduation celebrations for medical students, fellows and residents must comply with the guidelines under recruitment and not exceed $100 per person unless advance Finance approval is obtained.


Gratuities are reviewed for reasonableness. In general, gratuities above 20% will be questioned. If the invoice states that a gratuity has already been added, additional gratuities must be justified.

Lecture Receptions:

Receptions following lectures are allowable and should not exceed $100 per person. Please indicate the name of the lecturer and the title of the presentation when requesting reimbursement or payment.  Dinners with visiting lecturers and their spouses are also allowable subject to the limits under recruitment. If the visitor’s spouse is in attendance, reimbursement for University spouses is approved.

Thesis Defense:

The total amount for the thesis defense, including rentals, food, refreshments and decorations should not exceed $100 per person. Gifts are not an allowable thesis expense.


Floral purchases (not to exceed $75.00 including tax and delivery) are allowable for:

  • an employee who is hospitalized or home recovering from a serious illness,
  • to celebrate births of children of the employee,
  • marriage of the employee
  • death in the employee’s immediate family. “Immediate family” is defined in the University’s Funeral Leave Policy.
  • memorial gifts in lieu of flowers

This policy may be applied to a department’s non-employee group, such as clinical fellows, or post-docs., but this must be clearly stated on the request for reimbursement.

Non-allowable floral purchases include:

  • Flowers to faculty or staff members in another department
  • Expressions of thanks for work done by an employee.

Gifts are approved for non-employees who provide services to the University without compensation. Please provide the name of the recipient and their relationship to the University including type of service rendered. Gifts will be reviewed for reasonableness and most will be reported as taxable by the University.

Student recruitment:

A limit of $75 per applicant per evening applies to recruitment of students (applicants and student hosts). This includes dinner and entertainment, but excludes overnight lodging. For the purpose of this policy, “Student” includes clinical fellows, clinical trainees, residents, graduate students, and post-doctoral trainees.

The lists above are intended to provide guidance and not all inclusive. Washington University has a national reputation and guards its image as a careful steward of charitable and public funds. You can help in this area by making sure that entertainment expenditures are reasonable and properly coded.




If there are questions, please contact either Brenda Phelps (314-362-1640/bphelps@wustl.edu) or your senior budget analyst before the expenditure is made. They will seek clarification where there aren’t clear policies or precedents.