REG 10.10.04 - Centers and Institutes

Authority: Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Economic Development

History: First Issued: April 16, 1993. Last Revised: July 7, 2015.

Related Policies: 
UNC Policy Manual 400.5[R] – Planning, Establishing, and Reviewing Centers and Institutes in The University of North Carolina 
NCSU POL10.00.01 - Patent and Tangible Research Policy 
NCSU REG10.05.09 - Service Centers 

Additional References: 
Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes
Resolution of the Board of Governors Adopting the Report and Recommendations of the Working Group on Centers and Institutes 

Contact Info: Associate Vice Chancellor, Research (919-515-4479)


1. Introduction

The primary and related goals of North Carolina State University (NC State) are to strengthen its position as a research university of national stature, to provide the best possible education to its students and to all citizens through extension and outreach programs. These goals may be jointly realized through partnerships with private and corporate sponsors, other universities, non-government organizations (NGOs) and federal and state agencies.

Some of the most effective partnerships when efforts require cross-disciplinary or cross-unit coordination are commonly created through Centers and Institutes. Centers and Institutes, when formed, should result in strengthened and enriched programs around the core missions of research, service, and instruction; enhanced opportunities for faculty, staff and students; heightened economic impact in the state; and a reduction in duplication within NC State and the University of North Carolina (“UNC”).

2. Scope

2.1 This regulation is specifically intended to facilitate the establishment and operation of appropriate NC State Centers and Institutes, to prevent the creation of units that unnecessarily duplicate the mission and programs of existing units, and to give NC State administrators responsibility in their management. This regulation applies to all organized research, instructional or public service units that represent themselves to the university community and to the general public as being a “Center” or an “Institute” of NC State except service centers described in NCSU REG10.05.09 - Service Centers or the naming of facilities when not otherwise subject to this regulation.

2.2 Some Centers and Institutes 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.  These entities, known as University System Multi-Campus Centers and Institutes, will maintain varying levels of involvement from UNC General Administration throughout their life cycle, as described in Section C of UNC Policy Manual 400.5[R] – Planning, Establishing, and Reviewing Centers and Institutes in The University of North Carolina.

2.3 Because the designation as a Center or an Institute connotes an organizational representation of NC State's significant programmatic capacity, such designations are reserved for those proposed units that have complied with this regulation.

3. Definitions

3.1 Center

Centers endeavor to cross disciplines and merge complementary fields of exploration that may exist in different departments but that when joined in partnership serve to advance knowledge in directions not previously envisioned. An NC State Center is an organized unit designed to facilitate interdisciplinary activity in any university mission (instruction, research, outreach). A Center may be designated as a research, public service and/or instructional unit. Centers may also be Membership Centers, and/or seek shared industrial support to maximize technology transfer impact.

3.2 Institute

An Institute is an organized unit that has a much larger-scale mission and set of goals and objectives than a Center and usually involves a greater involvement of faculty. An Institute may create Centers as administrative units within its organization. If funding is given to an Institute with the specification that it be used for a Center, that Center must be established as a separate unit of the Institute in compliance with this regulation.

3.3 Membership Centers and Institutes

Membership Centers and Institutes derive the bulk of their funds from fees or assessments paid by members and deposited into a common university account. Guidance on organizing and operating Membership Centers and Institutes may be found in the Guide for Creating and Managing NC State Centers and Institutes.

3.3.1 Membership Centers and Institutes derive the bulk of their funds from fees or assessments paid by members and deposited into a common university account. Guidance on organizing and operating Membership Centers and Institutes may be found in the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes.

3.3.2 A  Center or Institute may, under appropriate circumstances, include the participation of other institutions, agencies, or organizations, such as other colleges and universities, schools, hospitals, industry, foundations, or governmental bodies.  

3.3.3  Centers and Institutes do not have jurisdiction over academic curricula, although they may be approved to offer courses in cooperation with academic units. 

4. Responsibilities

4.1 Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Economic Development

The Vice Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Economic Development (hereinafter referred to as Vice Chancellor), has been delegated the responsibility to act on behalf of the Chancellor in all administrative and oversight matters related to Centers and Institutes. The Vice Chancellor or designee is authorized to develop operating procedures, rules and guidance to carry out this responsibility.

4.2 Responsible Administrators

It will be the responsibility of the responsible Dean of the College(s) in which the Center or Institute is established, Vice Chancellor, Provost, the Chancellor or the appointed designee(s) of these officers (hereinafter collectively referred to as the “Responsible Administrator”) to comply with this regulation and the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes, as currently written and may be periodically revised. All such Center or Institute proposal reviews or any other recommended action(s) made to the Vice Chancellor by the Responsible Administrator(s) will have been made in accordance with the established internal procedures. All actions will be made only upon the final recommendation of the Responsible Administrator.

4.3 The Director and Advisory Committee(s)

All Centers and Institutes must have a Director and at least one Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee has only advisory responsibilities to the Center or Institute and makes recommendations  to the Director and to the Responsible Administrator.  The Advisory Committee has no authority to access, use or otherwise control funds. The Advisory Committee is responsible for advising on programmatic direction and in the case of membership centers on the distribution of membership fees for project funding. Advisory Committee members will be selected in accordance with the Management Guide for Centers and Institutes and must be free of conflicts of interest. 

The Center or Institute Director shall provide overall coordination of all programmatic activities, where appropriate seek external funding, oversee the management of day-to-day center operations, convene periodic Advisory Committee meetings, receive advice and recommendations  provided by the Advisory Committee and ensure the viability of the Center or Institute in meeting its objectives. The Director shall comply with all training obligations and ensure that all relevant professional staff also receive required training.

5. Creating and Managing NC State Centers and Institutes

5.1 Creating Centers and Institutes Creating a Center or Institute is a two-step authorization process requested through the Chancellor. The first step is the Authorization to Plan, which will last for no more than two (2) years and must be approved by the Chancellor; and the second step is the Authorization to Establish, which must be approved by the NC State Board of Trustees.

5.1.1 Authorization to Plan

In consultation with appropriate responsible administrators, the lead faculty and/or staff will prepare an electronic” authorization to plan” letter that must clearly address the following points:

• Relationship of the Center or Institute to the mission of NC State.

• Goals and objectives.

• The value added beyond the existing structure of NC State or through existing Centers and Institutes.

• Similar units that exist elsewhere in the UNC System and the state, and any proposed relationships with them.

• Organizational structure, including the units involved and the composition of the advisory committee(s).

• Faculty and staff involved (including the name of the proposed Director).

• Instructional programs to be accomplished.

• Sources, amounts, and duration of funds required and available for at least five (5) years.

• Required matching or cost sharing funds.

• Space and capital equipment requirements.

·  Administrative support functions that will be provided by the Responsible Administrator as well as the Center or Institute.

• Support and mentoring plans regarding the promotion and tenure of participating junior faculty.

• When relevant, statements on the inter-institutional nature of the proposed Center or Institute, whether it be mission, leadership, activities, funding, or other aspects.

The “Authorization to Plan” letter must be forwarded by the Responsible Administrator to the Vice Chancellor. In consultation with the Responsible Administrator and appropriate mission-specific Executive Officer(s) (e.g. the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, etc.), the Vice Chancellor will assess whether all information required by this regulation has been provided  and will determine the most appropriate review and oversight bodies (particularly relevant faculty committees such as University Standing Committees) from which to solicit comments and coordinate a comment period as more fully described in the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes. Upon resolution of requested edits and consideration of other comments, the Vice Chancellor (after consultation with the Provost) shall make a recommendation to the Chancellor regarding the authorization to plan the Center or Institute. If the Chancellor approves the recommendation, planning may begin. The Vice Chancellor shall notify the relevant administrators of the Chancellor's decision. 

5.1.2 Authorization to Establish

At any time during the two-year planning period, the lead faculty/staff may submit a request to establish the Center or Institute. The faculty involved will prepare a written proposal that will include an electronic draft of the Charter of the Center or Institute (and draft Bylaws, and Membership Agreement, if required). The draft must include all of the following:

• The name of the proposed Center or Institute.

• The specific mission, objectives, and goals of the proposed Center or Institute.

• The Center or Institute's relationship to or potential impact upon the existing academic departments, colleges and/or schools, and other Centers and Institutes in the UNC System.

• The name of the proposed Director, and a detailed description of any proposed advisory committees or directive boards.

• Budget estimates for the first (1st) year of operation, projections for the following four (4) years, and anticipated sources of funding.

• A statement identifying the current space and capital equipment that have been secured for the operation of the Center or Institute and realistic 5-year projections of future needs.

• A statement regarding the efficacy of plans implemented to assure proper recognition of participating junior faculty where relevant.

• A statement about anticipated effects of the proposed unit on the instructional programs of NC State, and the provisions for advanced or graduate training or degree programs.

• A description of the proposed Center or Institute's administrative structure, including an organizational chart showing the relationship of the proposed Center or Institute to the existing organizations of NC State and the internal organization of the proposed Center or Institute.

• A description of administrative support functions that will be provided by the Responsible Administrator as well as the Center or Institute. 

• When relevant, evidence that inter-institutional arrangements regarding leadership, governance, activities, funding, or other requirements have been made.

Sample formats of Charters, Bylaws, and Membership agreements may be found in the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes.

The proposal must be forwarded, with the Responsible Administrator(s) endorsement, to the Vice Chancellor. In consultation with the Responsible Administrator and appropriate mission-specific Executive Officer(s), the completeness of the request will be assessed and the most appropriate review and oversight bodies (particularly relevant faculty committees such as University Standing Committees) from which to solicit comments and coordinate a comment period will be determined as more fully described in the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes. Upon resolution of requested edits and a reasonable consideration of other comments, the Vice Chancellor (after consultation with the Provost) shall make a recommendation to the Chancellor. If the Chancellor approves the recommendation to establish the Center or Institute, the Chancellor shall forward the recommendation to the Board of Trustees for its decision. If the decision is to discontinue planning, the Vice Chancellor will notify the Responsible Administrator of the decision. 

5.2 Managing an Established Center or Institute

Management of an established Center includes monitoring and reviewing Center or Institute activities and plans through periodic contact (site visits, Advisory Committee meetings, internal and external professional evaluations, etc.) and reporting (annual University and Center/Institute written reports), modifying Center or Institute activities and plans as required, or when warranted, discontinuing a Center or Institute.

5.2.1 Center or Institute Reports

The Director is required to submit an annual report to the Vice Chancellor with copies to the Responsible Administrator(s). The report will be included in the University's annual report to the Board of Trustees. Instructions for completing and submitting annual reports may be found in the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes

5.2.2 Periodic Center or Institute Evaluations

Centers and Institutes as well as the performance of the Director must be evaluated every five (5) years. This evaluation will be made by a professional evaluation panel assembled by the Responsible Administrator(s) and approved by the Vice Chancellor. Additional or more frequent evaluations may be necessary if mandated by the Chancellor, Charter, Bylaws, funding agency, or the UNC System.

Some of the specific questions that will be addressed in the course of the evaluation are as follows: 

• Performance against objectives and goals: Are support, training, and graduation rates of students consistent with the Center or Institute's stated goals and objectives?

• Quality and quantity of scholarly activity (as appropriate per mission): Is the quality of scholarly activity by faculty, professional staff, and students reflected in its output (publications, patents, copyrights, etc.)?

Responsible fiscal oversight: Is current funding of the Center or Institute sufficient to continue its operation?

• Is faculty participation sufficient to continue Center or Institute operations?

• Are non-tenured faculty being appropriately mentored toward promotion and tenure? Are contributions of junior faculty appropriately recognized by the center or institute and the faculty member's home department?

• Do current operations of the Center or Institute agree with the most recent Charter, Bylaws, terms and conditions of any federal funding goals, and objectives of the Center or Institute? (Does it duplicate the efforts of other Centers and Institutes?)

• Does the financial audit and professional evaluation demonstrate that the Center or Institute is being managed properly? (Were any serious problems discovered?)

• Are required matching funds, start-up funds, or capital equipment still appropriate and available? (If the Center or Institute was originally funded with finite-term [three (3) year, five (5) year, etc.] start-up funds from the University or other granting agencies, has it been able to attract sufficient outside funds to continue without additional institutional support?)

• Is space required for operation of the Center or Institute available?

• Some of the specific questions that will be addressed in the course of the performance review of Center and Institute Directors are as follows:

• Performance against individual objectives and goals

Feedback on leadership and communication from center/institute staff, partners and/or clients

• Management of fiscal and human resources

Upon completion of the evaluation, the Responsible Administrator(s) shall make a recommendation to the Vice Chancellor regarding the continuation of the Center or Institute. The Vice Chancellor (after consultation with the Provost) shall make a recommendation to the Chancellor for action by the Board of Trustees. A full set of instructions and questions for conducting Center and Institute evaluations may be found in the Management Guide for NC State Centers and Institutes

5.2.3 Changes to the Name, Mission, or Personnel of a Center or Institute

In the normal course of a Center or Institute’s existence over a period of time, it is expected that there would be changes to its name, mission and personnel. For changes in personnel, such as the Director, the Responsible Administrator(s) will report the change promptly in writing to the Vice Chancellor and request approval. Any changes to the name and/or the mission of the Center or Institute must be reviewed and approved by the Responsible Administrator(s), Vice Chancellor and the Chancellor. The Director must submit a written proposal to the Responsible Administrator(s) and the Vice Chancellor justifying the need for the proposed changes and illustrating how the change will better reflect the current activities of the Center or Institute. A request for a change in name may not be used to make major changes to the fundamental mission(s) of the Center or Institute as stated in its Request to Establish. A fundamental change to its mission must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

5.2.4 Discontinuation of an NC State Center or Institute

If the fundamental focus, performance or mission of a Center or Institute is no longer appropriate or necessary, the Center or Institute will be discontinued by the Chancellor. 

5.2.5 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property created by NC State Centers and Institutes is the property of the university as provided under published university policies and regulations. Whenever intellectual property terms and conditions are to be included in official documents (e.g., research agreements, member or industry affiliate agreements, etc.), such terms shall be presented for review by the Office of Technology Transfer. Intellectual property provisions must be clearly defined in the Center/Institute Membership Agreement, even if they are included in the Bylaws.