Procedures for Establishment and Review of Centers & Institutes

1. Introduction

Centers and Institutes exist in order to enhance member capacity to successfully pursue research in existing and emergent topical areas. Each brings together researchers with diverse backgrounds and disciplines from multiple colleges and/or departments. Centers and Institutes provide members with various forms of support to garner external funding in a particular research area.

If you are interested in creating a new center or institute please start by contacting the Associate Vice President of Research Development (AVPRD) to discuss your concept.

2. Definitions

Research Center: An interdisciplinary collaborative effort, organized to conduct research across academic departments and/or colleges on a focused topic.

Research Institute: A larger, interdisciplinary and integrative unit, usually with members from more than one College. An Institute may contain one or more Centers within its administrative structure. 

Centers and Institutes focus on supporting the development of externally-funded research. The governance structure of each should reflect this as well as the unique needs and characteristics of that Center or Institute.

3. Establishment

The formal process for establishing a Center or Institute is outlined below. Informal research groups that do not extend beyond a Department or College or aim to receive additional IRAD do not require VPR approval.

3.1 Proposal

A written proposal must be developed and approved in order to establish a Center or Institute. The proposal must contain the following elements:

      1. Statement of Purpose - Describe the Center or Institute purpose succinctly.
      2. Mission Statement - Define the mission of the proposed Center or Institute using concise language.
      3. Justification - Explain the rationale for establishing the Center or Institute and the anticipated benefits from its creation.
      4. Proposed Research Development Activities - Describe planned activities to assist member development of funded research projects (i.e. proposal development, pilot research projects, etc.) as well as other research-related activities.
      5. Governance Structure - Answer the following questions:
        1. Describe how the Director will be chosen, by whom, and how long their term will be.
        2. Describe the Director’s duties and responsibilities.
        3. Explain how researchers become members of your Center or Institute.
        4. Describe member rights and responsibilities.
        5. Describe how members will be included in Center or Institute governance.
        6. Describe the Center or Institute's planned activities to assist member development and management of externally-funded research awards.
      6. Financial Goals and Strategic Planning - Provide a table showing projected center or institute five year total expenditures and revenue balance per fiscal year. In addition, describe financial and membership goals directly related to enhancing research expenditures. Provide and describe metrics if appropriate.
      7. Space and Facilities Requirements - Describe existing laboratory and office facilities that will be used by the Center or Institute. Assignment of this space to the Center or Institute must be approved by the Dean and Department Chair.
      8. List of Prospective Members - List all prospective members and their academic units, including their Department and College.
      9. Signatures - Provide each Department Chair with prospective members in your Center or Institute with a copy of your proposal for its establishment. If they support its creation, ask them to provide their signature on the signature page document. The AVPRD will gather signatures from the Deans with prospective members after your presentation to them.
      10. Appendix - Include an appendix containing curriculum vitae of all potential initial members.

3.2 Approval

Establishment of a Center or Institute has implications for the Departments and Colleges with participating researchers. Therefore, establishment of a Center or Institute requires the approval of the AVPRD, VPR, and Academic Deans with prospective members in their College. 

  1. The AVPRD will help you prepare a proposal draft. Once the AVPRD has determined that your proposal is ready for review by the Deans, they will notify you and start the next steps.
  2. The AVPRD will share your proposal with the VPR and Academic Deans and schedule a review meeting at which you will present your proposal using the presentation template. The Academic Deans with prospective members in your Center or Institute will vote on whether your proposal is approved.
  3. Final approval by the President is required for new centers or institutes. 

4. Charter

Upon approval, each Center or Institute will develop a Charter during its first year of existence or the first year following reauthorization. The Charter will describe the mission, proposed activities, and governance structure, and include a strategic plan describing the means of addressing the mission of the unit. The plan will specify explicit goals regarding the types of planned activities to support member external research funding and management, amount of research funds to be generated, and goals for usage of any revenues garnered by the Center or Institute. The Charter shall be approved by the Director, the AVPRD, and the VPR. Once approved it must be posted on the Center or Institute's website.

5. Project Proposal Submission and Administration

Centers or Institutes involve Department or College personnel and facilities. Chairs and Deans are responsible for resources assigned to their units, and only they can commit those resources. Proposals for sponsored projects that originate in a Center or Institute must have the explicit approval of the Director on all transmittals. Proposals for sponsored projects must follow the normal Michigan Tech proposal submission procedures.

6. Annual Reporting and Renewal Process

Each Center or Institute will submit an annual report using the annual report template to the AVPRD by October 1 of each year. 

Each Center or Institute will typically be established for a five year term. At the end of the term, the existence of the Center or Institute will terminate unless it is specifically reauthorized to continue following its review and evaluation. 

The Center or Institute renewal process follows the same approval process outlined in Section 3. The AVPRD will schedule a meeting to be held with the Director, AVPRD, VPR, and Academic Deans to consider the request for renewal. The Director will need to provide their chair signature (for Chairs with members in the Center or Institute), and renewal presentation to the AVPRD at least one week prior to the renewal meeting. The AVPRD will share these files with the Deans and VPR. Deans with Center or Institute members in their college have a vote on its renewal. After the renewal meeting, the AVPRD will notify the Director of the decision and provide them with a decision memo outlining key Center or Institute strengths and concerns identified by the Deans, VPR, and AVPRD.