University of Minnesota  Procedure

University-wide Centers: Establishing, Operating and Evaluating


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Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

A University-wide Center is an entity authorized by the President and Executive Vice President to support and advance research, education, or public engagement initiatives aligned with key University strategic priorities. University-wide Centers differ from intercollegiate and collegiate centers in two ways:

  1. University-wide Center leadership receives assistance from the Executive Vice President, Vice Presidents, and President to secure budget, space allocation and support infrastructure.
  2. University-wide Center authorization is granted to relatively few entities in order to provide focus to the University's commitments.

Establishing a University-wide Center:

A University-wide Center may be created only by the President and Executive Vice President. The President and Executive Vice President work with Vice Presidents, deans and faculty to designate a center director and establish a governance structure. These centers do not need additional authorizations for designation as a University-wide Center.

At any time in an existing or proposed Intercollegiate or College Center’s life cycle, center faculty or staff may request that it receive consideration for University-wide Center designation. Centers seeking such designation must submit a proposal to the Executive Vice President (see contacts section of policy) including the following information:

  • A profile of the center including focus, brief history, organizational structure and governance, participants, research productivity, and evidence of excellence.
  • A strategic plan for the center.
  • An explanation of the relationship between the center’s goals and the University’s strategic objectives.
  • Rationale for designation as a University-wide Center.
  • Budget information including a concise budget history, a current budget, and budget projections.

If the center’s request is advanced for further consideration as a result of the administrative review process, it may be subject to external review by a team of distinguished scholars in the center’s primary areas of expertise. The team reviews the supporting material and confers with center leadership and other relevant University officials. The review team also considers:

  • Degree of strategic importance to the University
  • Extent and complexity of the effort including number entities involved
  • Need for central resources
  • Prospect for leveraging central resources to secure external funding

Ultimate authority for conferring University-wide Center designation resides with the President and Executive Vice President.

Operating a University-wide Center:

University-wide Centers report to the Executive Vice President, a Vice President or designee. Operating guidelines are established upon authorization of a University-wide Center. The center director must follow these guidelines, facilitate continuous progress toward the academic objectives cited in its authorization request, demonstrate its ability to offer competitive or educational advantages, and document how it measurably contributes to the University's strategic goals. If the University-wide Center seeks outside support, it must share indirect cost revenue between or among participating units according to the procedure for Sharing Indirect Cost Recovery Among Collaborating Collegiate Units. Center directors must submit annual reports to the senior leader to whom they report. They must also update information annually in the University's database of centers and institutes.

Evaluating a University-wide Center:

Authorization for University-wide Centers is for a limited period of time, subject to renewal following formal review and assessment at intervals of no more than five years.

Formal Review and Assessment

Designated University-wide Centers are subject to periodic review to assess their quality, productivity, continuing alignment with the strategic priorities of the University, and opportunities for future growth and development. These reviews are conducted at intervals of no more than five years unless more frequent reviews are requested by the central administrator to whom they report. 

The review process includes the preparation of a self-study by the director of the university-wide center, according to guidelines that call for general and center-specific information. Upon completion of the self-study, an independent review team is appointed, consisting of distinguished external scholars in the center’s primary areas of expertise; internal members may be added to the team as needed. The review team’s findings, are forwarded to the Executive Vice President for review and action. Actions may include renewal of the center’s university-wide designation, termination, or transition to departmental, collegiate center, or intercollegiate status.