Section 2.4 Academic Affairs: Centers and Institutes
Issued: September 2015

Section 2.4: Academic Affairs: Centers and Institutes

Southern Illinois University’s common expectations for centers and institutes are straightforward. All centers and institutes are expected to advance one or more aspects of the university’s educational, research, creative activity, and public service missions; that is, they must respond to the academic and service missions of the university, contributing to one or more in the education of students and other learners, performance of research, generation of extramural funding, and provision of service to the community, the region, the state, and/or beyond. Centers and institutes are expected to be responsible administrative units of the university, seeking external funding while efficiently and appropriately utilizing resources. Finally, centers and institutes must be points of excellence and pride for the university, with a strong external reputation. The granting of center/institute designation should be very selective and relatively rare. Continuation of the center/institute designation is not guaranteed, although the university may acknowledge its commitment to centers and institutes through memoranda of agreement.

These guidelines outline SIU system-wide requirements for centers and institutes. Consistent with these university guidelines, SIU Carbondale, SIU Edwardsville, and SIU School of Medicine shall each develop and publish clearly defined guidelines for their campuses regarding the establishment, operation, evaluation and review, suspension, remediation, and termination of their centers and institutes.

2.4.1 Scope of these Guidelines

Southern Illinois University shall comply with all requirements of the State of Illinois regarding the approval of new centers and institutes as well as the periodic review of continuing ones. This includes the State of Illinois’ requirements for new units of instruction, research, and public service at public universities under authority of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (23 Illinois Administrative Code 1050 and associated procedures propagated by the IBHE), as well as any other state statutes which establish particular centers or institutes. The university guidelines in this section apply to only those centers and institutes at Southern Illinois University that were established under these State of Illinois requirements (e.g., centers/institutes approved or seeking approval through the IBHE procedures).

Units called centers or institutes that are not subject to the state requirements – i.e., those lacking instructional, research, or public service missions (such as student services centers, research support centers, or clinical practice centers organized solely for the purpose of patient care) – are not subject to these university guidelines, but need to be approved and monitored at the campus level. The guidelines for each campus must clarify this latter requirement.

2.4.2 General Expectations for Centers and Institutes

Some general expectations that may apply, depending upon the particular center or institute, include the following (centers and institutes will or may):

  • Create and transfer knowledge to students and other learners;
  • Offer students/other learners opportunities to apply knowledge to the real world;
  • Support graduate and professional students;
  • Support undergraduate research and creative activity;
  • Enhance the university’s external reputation;
  • Procure and maintain modern equipment and facilities;
  • Support faculty and research goals;
  • Increase faculty productivity;
  • Increase interdisciplinary interactions among faculty, students, and staff;
  • Engage and contribute to the welfare of the people we serve;
  • Link to broader programs and consortia;
  • Translate research findings to usable products and services for academia and/or the public;
  • Positively impact the economy;
  • Provide services to government, private, and non-profit partners;
  • Obtain external funding to enhance or replace the university’s initial/continuing investment;
  • Maintain a minimum critical mass of faculty and staff;
  • Show positive return on investment (as quantifiable);
  • Demonstrate an influence on public policy for the betterment of the community, region, state, and/or nation ; and
  • Increase student competitiveness in the marketplace.

In addition to the system-wide expectations, each campus will develop its own complementary sets of expectations as well as work with the individual centers and institutes to establish and monitor attainment of each center’s/institute’s specific goals, objectives, and measurable targets.

2.4.3 Approval and Review of Centers and Institutes

University guidelines outline the required approval processes for units of instruction, research, and public service, including centers and institutes (new units, Attachment 2-A; reasonable and moderate extensions, Attachment 2-B; general, Section 2.1). Campus procedures further articulate the approval processes. Those requirements and procedures will govern the centers and institutes discussed in these guidelines.

Similarly, state administrative rules (23 Illinois Administrative Code 1050 (1050.50)) and campus guidelines set forth the requirements for program review of the centers and institutes covered in these guidelines. For new centers and institutes, the first three years will be considered a start-up period after which a program status review will be conducted to determine if the center or institute is meeting the performance measures outlined in its establishment documentation. All continuing centers/institutes will be reviewed on an eight-year cycle. The result of such reviews may lead to the suspension or closure of a center/institute.

In addition to the state-mandated program reviews, the campuses and the medical school will continuously monitor performance of each center/institute in terms of a predetermined set of performance measures set by campus and center/institute leadership. These performance measures will directly relate to the objectives and expectations for the center/institute and be developed and monitored cooperatively by the center/institute and the campus leadership. Center/institute budgets (costs, revenues) will also be reviewed. Specifics for this process will be outlined in the campus’ center/institute guidelines.

2.4.4 Considerations for Continuing, Suspending, and Eliminating Centers and Institutes

Given the prominence and importance of centers and institutes, they are likely to address ongoing needs and require long-term commitments. Missions and objectives may evolve over time and should be allowed to do so, if appropriate. However, in some cases, the underlying conditions and/or opportunities necessitating the center/institute may change over time and obviate the need for the unit, resources may no longer provide adequate support for the unit, or performance of the unit may not meet expectations. In these cases, the center/institute will be suspended or eliminated. In the case of a suspension, an underperforming center/institute will be given a period of time to provide a plan for reorganization that allows it to improve its performance. This does not guarantee that the center/institute will be unsuspended. If the plan is deemed untenable, the unit will be eliminated. If the suspension is lifted, the unit will be given a specified time to meet metrics of success or will be eliminated.

Factors considered in the continuation review may include:

  • External support to undergraduate, graduate students, professional students, and/or other learners in terms of stipends awarded and the number of theses, dissertations, publications, or other tangible deliverables generated from center/institute participation, collaboration, and activity;
  • An increase in faculty scholarly productivity as measured by average per capita faculty publication rate (or other appropriate metric);
  • For public service-focused centers/institutes, enhanced services as measured by service volume and breadth of services, and improved access to, cost and quality of service;
  • Impact on public policy;
  • Whether the center/institute is in Illinois statute;
  • Revenue production as shown by average per capita contract and grant activity;
  • External reputation as measured by external reviews, citations, etc;
  • Return on investment as a ratio of external funds (e.g., awards, contracts, or donations) to internal (e.g., state or overhead funds), when the former is quantifiable and the latter is provided; and
  • Demonstrated interdisciplinary activity.

2.4.5 Organization of Centers and Institutes

Centers and institutes will be led by a director. The center/institute director typically reports to the dean (or a delegated senior administrator) of the college or school in which the center/institute resides. If the center/institute involves collaboration and cooperation across different colleges and/or schools, it may not reside in an academic unit and its director may report to a higher level administrator (e.g. Associate Provost, Provost, Vice Chancellor). Annual evaluation of the director’s performance by the administrative supervisor should include input from the center/institute faculty, staff, learners, advisory board members, and other stakeholders.

Each center and institute will have an external advisory board if the unit serves the community, region, or state, or, an internal advisory board if there is little direct community interaction. The supervising administrator will serve as ex officio on the board.

Each center and institute will establish and maintain a management plan. This document will specify the center’s/institute’s mission, objectives and expectations, performance measures, organizational and governance structure, criteria for faculty membership/participation, role and sources of funding support for the director, and other elements relevant to the unit. This management plan will be reviewed and approved by the senior administrator of the campus or the medical school. Modifications of the plan may be made by the director and the faculty of the center/institute, contingent upon approval by the senior administrator.

2.4.6 Reporting for Centers and Institutes

Each center or institute will complete and submit to the campus leadership an annual report following completion of the academic/fiscal year. After review by the campus leadership, this annual report will be forwarded to the Vice President/Academic Affairs for transmittal to the SIU Board of Trustees. A report template will be developed by the Vice President, in consultation with campus and medical school administration, and used by all centers/institutes to ensure that reporting is consistent across the university. The annual report is expected to include information about financial and other resources (such as total funds expended during the previous fiscal year, revenues by funding source, and total positions by type of position); intellectual contributions (such as publications, presentations, books, compositions, art exhibits, patents, theses and dissertations); public service contributions (such as community projects and patient care); students trained and graduated; evidence of the center’s/institute’s support for the institution’s mission, priorities, and strategic themes; support for the SIU Board of Trustees’ strategic plans and/or statewide priorities and needs; external reputation of the center/institute (such as cited publications, invited presentations, media coverage); and evidence that the center’s/institute’s product or outcomes achieve stated objectives and that results from evaluations are being used to improve the center’s/institute’s effectiveness. This reporting will clarify the center’s/institute’s organizational effectiveness.

Adapted from William R. Tash and Stephen Miles Sacks, The Payoff: Evaluating Research Centers, Institutes, Laboratories and Consortia for Success! (Haverford, PA: Scipolicy, 2004).