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Policies and Regulations
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Establishing, Reviewing, and Discontinuing Centers and Institutes Policy

1. Introduction

Centers and institutes at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) are administrative units that are established to strengthen and enrich the University’s core mission of teaching, research, and public service.  Centers and institutes foster the interdisciplinary collaboration that provides enhanced opportunities for faculty, staff, and students and heightens the University’s economic impact regionally and statewide. Centers and institutes are partnerships that maximize the capacities of the University of North Carolina (UNC) as a whole and reduce duplication within it.

2. Scope

This document delineates the policies and procedures for planning, establishing, reviewing, and discontinuing centers and institutes at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  These policies are built on the framework provided by The UNC Policy Manual 400.5[R], Planning, Establishing, and Reviewing Centers and Institutes in The University of North Carolina, approved October 21, 2009.

These policies and procedures are intended to facilitate the establishment and operation of appropriate centers and institutes at UNC Pembroke and to describe UNC Pembroke administrators’ responsibility, authority, and accountability for the leadership and management of centers and institutes. Regulations and processes described in this document apply to all organized research, instructional, and public service units that represent themselves as centers or institutes of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  The designation as a center or institute is reserved for those units that have complied with these policies and procedures.

For the purposes of classification, within the UNC system, there is no technical distinction between the terms center and institute. However, the term institute can also refer to a unit with a broader scope of activity than a center and may indicate a unit that contains smaller centers as separate units within its administrative structure.

Centers and institutes may be institutional, reporting to and involving units within only a single UNC campus such as UNC Pembroke. Fiscal and administrative oversight for these centers and institutes is limited to a single institution. Institutional centers and institutes do not submit planning, establishment, or discontinuation requests to the Board of Governors, but are subject to the policies and procedures for establishment and review that are established by their respective campus.

Inter-institutional centers and institutes involve the participation of more than one campus within the UNC system and must designate one campus as the administrative campus which then assumes responsibility for the general and fiscal oversight in accordance with campus level policies and procedures. University System Multi-campus Centers are established either to represent North Carolina in a federally-funded and formula-based program, many of which require state matching funds, or through legislative action with requirements of multiple campus engagement. Such centers maintain varying levels of involvement with UNC General Administration throughout their life cycle and are governed by The UNC Policy Manual 400.5[R], Planning, Establishing, and Reviewing Centers and Institutes in The University of North Carolina.

The following units or programs are not considered university centers or institutes under these policies:

  • Those whose mission is to provide focused services to specific university constituencies.  Examples include the Writing Center, Teaching and Learning Center, and Center for Academic Excellence.
  • Buildings that are called centers, e.g., the James B. Chavis University Center.
  • Centers embedded within larger centers or institutes.
  • Entities within departments that would be more appropriately considered research, public service, or clinical services programs of individual faculty members.

Centers and institutes endeavor to cross disciplinary and departmental lines in order to advance knowledge in new directions or provide services to new constituencies. Center and institutes may be designated as research, public service, or instructional according to their primary missions. Regardless of the primary designation, centers and institutes may also carry out activities in the other two areas as secondary components of their missions. Although centers and institutes do not have primary jurisdiction over academic curricula, they may offer courses in cooperation with academic units.

3. Authoritative Roles

UNC Pembroke will designate an administrative campus for each of its centers and institutes.  For institutional centers, UNC Pembroke will have full authority for the oversight of the center or institute including establishment, management, and discontinuation.  For inter-institutional centers and institutes, UNC Pembroke will reach an agreement with the other institutions involved about the designation of an administrative campus. The administrative campus of institutional or inter-institutional centers and institutes will be responsible for the general and fiscal oversight and management of the center or institute in accordance with campus level policies and procedures.

The UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees has the authority to approve campus level policies on centers and institutes and to authorize the establishment and discontinuation of institutional centers and institutes.  The Board of Trustees may, upon official action, delegate authorization for establishment or discontinuation to the Chancellor. The Provost acts on behalf of the Chancellor in all administrative and oversight matters related to centers and institutes and is responsible for the policy statement on establishing, reviewing, and discontinuing centers and institutes at UNC Pembroke. Each center is responsible to the Chancellor through the director and the director’s designated supervising administrative officer. 

The Committee on Centers and Institutes (CCI) advises the Provost on matters related to the establishment and evaluation of centers and institutes. The CCI is chaired by the Senior Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and consists of the Director of Sponsored Research and Programs, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, and Associate Provost for Engaged Outreach.  The Provost also chooses one additional dean and three faculty members to serve on the Committee.  The dean is chosen from among the University’s schools and colleges, and the three faculty members are chosen from diverse disciplines and have a demonstrated ability to think strategically and broadly about University-wide issues.

Each center or institute will have a director and an advisory or policy board. Center and institute directors are responsible for the day-to-day programmatic, fiscal, and personnel decisions associated with the center and institute mission and core personnel. The center or institute director will coordinate programmatic activities, seek external funding where appropriate, convene periodic advisory board meetings, respond to assessment and administrative program review processes, and ensure the viability of the center or institute in meeting its objectives. The advisory committee has advisory responsibilities to the center or institute and makes recommendations to the director on programmatic direction. The advisory board does not have the authority to make hiring offers to directors or other staff or to access, use, or otherwise control funds associated with the centers and institutes. Centers and institutes will address aspects of their management, such as the appointing and staggering terms of board members, through bylaws, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), or other governing documents.  

4. Establishing New Centers and Institutes

Establishing a new center or institute is a two-step process involving a request for authorization to plan and a request for authorization to establish. The Provost and the Chancellor approve the request for authorization to plan, and the Provost, Chancellor, and Board of Trustees approve the request for authorization to establish a new center or institute.

4.1. Authorization to Plan

To request authorization to plan a new center or institute, the faculty and/or staff wishing to plan, in consultation with appropriate administrative officer of the unit where the center will be established, will submit to the Senior Associate Provost as Chair of the Committee on Centers and Institutes (CCI), a request that includes the following information:

  1. Relevance of the proposed center or institute to the mission of UNC Pembroke and the UNC system.
  2. Mission, goals, and objectives of the proposed unit and an explanation of why these cannot be met within existing university structures.
  3. Description of how the proposed unit differs from other centers, institutes, and units at UNC Pembroke, the UNC system, and the state, and proposed relationships with them.
  4. Description of the people and units involved (including the name of the proposed director).
  5. Organizational structure, including the composition of the advisory board.
  6. Estimated funding needed to initiate and sustain the proposed center or institute for five years and potential sources of funding during that period.
  7. Estimated space, facilities, and equipment needs and plans for meeting these needs.
  8. If relevant, information about the inter-institutional nature of the proposed unit with regard to mission, leadership, activities, funding, or other aspects.
  9. Proposed timeline for establishing the center or institute. If a time-limited center is proposed, e.g., one established only for the duration of certain external funding, estimated “sunset” date.

The Committee on Centers and Institutes will evaluate the request and determine the most appropriate review and oversight bodies (particularly relevant administrative and faculty committees) from which to solicit comments and coordinate a comment period. At the conclusion of this period, the Committee will recommend to the Provost whether or not planning for a new center or institute should go forward. After consideration of the recommendation of the Committee, the Provost will make a recommendation to the Chancellor regarding the authorization to plan.  If the Chancellor approves the recommendation, planning may begin. The Provost will communicate a decision regarding permission to plan to the faculty/staff wishing to plan and the administrative officer of the unit where the new center or institute would be established and, if permission is granted, the expected timeline for completion of the plan and request for authorization to establish the center or institute.  The planning period will have a maximum duration of two years.  If a request for authorization to establish is not presented within two years, a new request for authorization to plan must be submitted.

4.2. Authorization to Establish

When planning is complete, the faculty/staff proposing the center or institute will submit a formal request for authorization to establish the center or institute to the Senior Associate Provost as Chair of the Committee on Centers and Institutes. The minimum required documentation for the request for authorization to establish includes the items listed in the request for authorization to plan document as well as the following:

  1. A name for the proposed center or institute that appropriately reflects the unit’s mission and scope.
  2. The proposed unit’s designation as either a research, instructional, or public service unit, in accordance with its primary mission and core activities and with the understanding that it may conduct complementary activities outside its designated primary mission.
  3. Description of the organizational structure, including the name of the proposed director; reporting lines; leadership; staffing; description of the membership and function of advisory boards; and an organizational chart showing both the unit’s relationship to existing campus units and the internal organization of the unit. 
  4. The anticipated benefit of the unit’s work to the research, instructional, or public service programs of UNC Pembroke, and, if inter-institutional arrangements are involved, the anticipated benefit to the participating institutions.
  5. Description of space, facilities, and equipment needs for the next five years and how those needs will be met.
  6. Five-year budget detailing personnel and non-personnel costs and sources of revenue.
  7. If relevant, evidence that inter-institutional agreements regarding leadership, governance, activities, funding, and other aspects have been reached by the collaborating Chancellors or their designees.
  8. A description of how the achievement of the unit’s mission, goals, and objectives will be measured, documented, and assessed.

The Committee on Centers and Institutes will assess the request, focusing on the degree to which the proposed center will contribute to the University’s mission, objectives and strategic plan; the proposed budget; and the degree to which sufficient funding can be secured to support the proposed center. The Committee will determine the most appropriate review and oversight bodies (particularly relevant administrative and faculty committees) from which to solicit comments and coordinate a comment period. At the conclusion of this period, the Committee will evaluate the request and make a recommendation to the Provost as to whether or not the new center or institute should be established.

After receiving the Committee’s recommendation, the Provost will determine whether to (1) approve the request to establish and forward it to the Chancellor for his approval or (2) deny the request and communicate that decision to those submitting the proposal.  If the Provost recommends that the center or institute be established and the Chancellor approves the Provost’s recommendation, the Chancellor will forward the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for its approval.  

If the Board of Trustees approves the establishment of the center or institute, the Chancellor will notify the Provost of the decision.  The Provost will notify the relevant parties involved in submitting the proposal and the UNC Office of Research and Sponsored Programs of the decision to establish the center or institute. If the decision is to discontinue planning, the Provost will notify the relevant parties involved in submitting the proposal. The Office of Academic Affairs will be responsible for including information about the new center or institute in the catalog and Faculty Handbook.

5. Management of Centers and Institutes

Center Directors are responsible for the day-to-day programmatic, fiscal, and personnel decisions of the Center and will hold a faculty appointment or a non-faculty EPA appointment. Whether the Director's position is that of faculty or non-faculty EPA, the appointment is made in accordance with existing policies and procedures for such appointments. If the proposed Director in the request for authorization to establish is a member of the University faculty or staff, the Provost may accept that proposed Director or make an alternative selection from the faculty or staff.  Alternatively, the Provost may appoint a search committee and charge it with the conduct of a national search, following established University procedures for the hiring of academic or administrative personnel. In appointing the Director, the Provost will also designate the administrative officer to whom the Director is to report. The Director may appoint associate or assistant directors, subject to approval of the supervising administrative officer.

Not later than the fourth year following the initial appointment, and not less frequently than every five years thereafter, each center or institute director will undergo a performance review.  The administrative officer to whom the center or institute reports will be responsible for initiating the review and for acting on its recommendations. The criteria for the review of the center director review should include at minimum

  • Performance against individual objectives and goals;
  • Feedback on leadership and communication from center/institute staff, partners and/or clients; and
  • Management of fiscal and human resources.

6. Periodic Review of Centers and Institutes

Active centers and institutes must undergo regular review to ensure ongoing alignment with departmental, college and/or institutional missions and resources, success in accomplishing stated objectives, and sound fiscal status and practices.  Management of an established center includes monitoring and reviewing center or institute activities and plans through periodic contact and reporting and modifying center or institute activities and plans as required. A center or institute must undergo a major evaluation or review at least once every five (5) years. A major review may occur sooner at the discretion of the Provost.  Additional or more frequent major evaluations may be necessary if mandated by the center’s charter, bylaws, or funding agency.

Additionally, the center or institute will prepare annual or biennial reports in accordance with the University’s assessment processes for academic and administrative support units and the accountability plan outlined in the request for authorization to establish. The reports are submitted to the supervising administrative officer and the Provost for review.

A major center review and evaluation will take place no later than the fifth year. To initiate this process, the supervising administrative officer will charge the center director with compiling a self-evaluation, using a format that is appropriate for the center and agreed upon by the supervising administrative officer and the director. The purpose of the self-evaluation is to collect data related to the center’s goals and objectives, with specific attention to purpose for establishing the center and the accountability plan. The self-study will focus on the following:

  1. Mission, goals, and objectives, and their relationship to those of the university.
  2. Degree to which the center’s mission, goals, and activities are unique or duplicated elsewhere on campus or within the UNC system.
  3. Significant accomplishments in the past five years in research, instruction, and/or public service and engagement.
  4. Degree of success in achieving mission and reaching desired outcomes.
  5. How and to what extent the center promotes interdisciplinary work.
  6. University and community partnerships (if applicable).
  7. Client feedback as appropriate to the mission of the center or institute
  8. Quality and quantity of scholarly and/or public service activity by faculty, professional staff, and students.
  9. Organizational structure; number and types of personnel.
  10. Summary budget data for past five years, including amount and sources of funding, changes in funding over the years, number and types of grants and contracts, and administrative costs. 
  11. Responsible fiscal oversight as determined by the financial audit and professional evaluation that demonstrate that the center or institute is being managed properly.
  12. Vision for the future of the center or institute, including program improvement plans.

When the director completes the self-study, the supervising administrative officer will select at least two persons (internal or external) with expertise in the field presented by the center under review to review the self-study documents and deliver recommendations to the supervising administrative officer. The reviewers will review the self-study report prepared by the center director and submit a written report to the supervising administrative officer. The report will address the following:

  1. Degree to which the mission of the program is realistic, feasible, and capable of meeting the needs of the university and wider community.
  2. Extent to which the center’s mission, goals, and activities are unique or duplicated elsewhere on campus or within the UNC system.
  3. Degree of success in achieving mission and reaching desired outcomes; adequacy of programs and initiatives in fulfilling research, instruction, and/or public service missions and meeting the needs of constituents and stakeholders.
  4. Quality of the student experience and success in career placement (if applicable).
  5. Effectiveness of leadership, organizational structure, and administrative resources.
  6. Quality of institutional relationships.
  7. Adequacy of funding and facilities; for recently-established centers, congruence of current budget with budget proposed at inception. 
  8. Feasibility of the program’s plans for the future.
  9. Recommendations for improving academic and administrative effectiveness.

The officer will then add his comments and recommendations to those of the reviewers and forward the self-study, the reviewers’ report, and his comments to the Committee on Centers and Institutes. The Committee will review all the documents prepared for the review and make its recommendations to Provost regarding (1) the center’s continued viability, (2) an action plan for changes or improvements, and (3) timeline for the next review.  The Committee may recommend to the Provost that the center be discontinued. Upon completion of the review, the supervising administrative officer will meet with the Provost to prepare a response to the Committee’s recommendations and determine future actions.  If needed, the Provost will make a recommendation for discontinuation of the center or institute to the Chancellor for action by the Board of Trustees. The Provost will communicate his decisions to the center or institute director and the supervising administrative officer. 

7. Discontinuation of Centers and Institutes

A center or institute may be discontinued for a variety of reasons, including lack of fiscal resources for sustainability, termination of a supporting grant or award, lack of fit with departmental, college, or institutional missions or objectives, or cases of extraordinary circumstances.  Following a major review or upon a formal written request from the supervising administrative officer explaining the need to eliminate the center or institute, the Committee on Centers and Institutes may recommend to the Provost that the center or institute be discontinued.  If the Provost determines that discontinuation is warranted, he will notify the Chancellor who places the matter before the Board of Trustees. With the approval of the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor may place the center or institute on probation with the stipulation that deficiencies be corrected within a specific period of time. The Board of Trustees may discontinue a center or institute for any of the reasons or circumstances mentioned above. Once the Board of Trustees approves the discontinuation of a center or institute, the Provost notifies the UNC Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

For those centers and institutes that require significant and sustained cooperation among more than one UNC campus, agreement must be reached and documented by the partner Chancellors or designees before the recommendation to discontinue goes before the Board of Trustees at the administrative campus. If partner Chancellors or their designees cannot reach such an agreement, then UNC General Administration, through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, will convene the partners and determine an acceptable solution.

The administrative officer to whom the center or institute reports, in collaboration with the center director, will develop a plan for phasing out the unit to allow for orderly termination or transfer of contractual obligations and an effort to find alternative employment for full-time staff.  The phase-out period may not be for more than one year after the end of the academic year in which final approval is given to discontinue the center or institute.