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Handbook of Operating Procedures
Chapter 10 - Research Administration
Publication Date: August 20, 2009
Responsible Executive: VP for Research

10.03 Guidelines for Research Centers and Institutes

  1. Policy Statement
    The purpose of research centers and institutes is to enhance the research efforts of the faculty and to foster student involvement in research-related activities at the University. Research centers exist to foster research focused on a narrow range of topics or issues; a center may require the efforts of faculty from one or several departments usually within a single college. Research institutes, on the other hand, enhance and support broad-based research efforts and will normally encompass research activities at the level of multiple colleges but may also include agencies and organizations outside of the university. As with all research endeavors, support of graduate education is an important function of research centers and institutes. In addition, a research center or institute will provide educational experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students and will carry out university and public service programs related to the center or institute's research expertise.

  2. Non-research Centers or Institutes
    This policy does not apply to centers or institutes that do not have research as their principal function.

  3. Establishment of a Research Institute or Center
    1. Each research center or institute must demonstrate a clear need for some number of faculty members to work together in a single administrative structure that allows them to carry out a research program more effectively than they would be able to do working individually or in informal partnerships. Approval of a proposed center or institute is made by the President of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) on recommendation of the Provost and Vice President for Research. A research center or institute with a projected annual budget of more than $3M must be approved by the President and the University of Texas System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and must meet all requirements found in Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 40000, Section 40602.
    2. If the disciplines represented in the research center are contained primarily within a single college, the director is appointed and reports to the Dean of the College. The director of an Institute, which encompasses faculty from multiple colleges, is appointed and reports to a Dean designated by the Vice President for Research with oversight by the Deans of all participating colleges.
    3. Faculty or academic administrators seeking to establish a new research center should submit a request to the Dean of their College. Faculty or administrators seeking to establish a new Institute should submit the request to the Vice President for Research. In either case the requests are reviewed by the College Dean, the Provost and the Vice President for Research who may seek input and advice from internal or external groups.
    4. At a minimum, the following information should be included in the research center or institute proposal (for a comprehensive list of information see http://research.utsa.edu/):
      1. purpose and need for the research center or institute, particularly the need for a number of faculty members to work together in a single administrative structure;
      2. relevance of the center or institute to the University's strategic plan;
      3. role of the center or institute in undergraduate and graduate education;
      4. proposed staffing;
      5. organization and expectations of the scientific advisory board if applicable (Note: research centers or institutes that require the approval of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs ,see Section C.1, above, must have an advisory committee/council established in accordance with the Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 60000, Section 60302);
      6. any proposals to name the research center or institute for an individual or an entity ( Note: Regents' Rule, Series, 80000, Section 80307 governs such a naming);
      7. developmental plan for the research center or institute over a 5 year period, should be arranged as follows:
        1. Executive Summary: Brief description of the research center or institute highlighting its strategic relevance, the faculty members and other participants, the effective date, space requirements, other required resources, budget needs and source(s) of funding, key milestones for success (with dates), and primary risks to the project's success with mitigating strategies, plan for sustainability and/or exit strategy.
        2. Project Plan: Detailed project plan with an explanation of the strategic rationale, plan for fostering student involvement in research, key personnel, a timeline for development, and supporting analyses that form the basis for the proposal. The strategic rationale must be tied directly to UTSA's strategic plan and set out the benefits the unit will provide to the UTSA.
        3. Opportunities for Extramural Funding Analysis: A concise evaluation of the opportunities for seeking and obtaining extramural funding support should be discussed:
          1. A list of potential funding opportunities;
          2. A list of submitted proposals; and
          3. A list of awarded grants and/or contracts.
        4. Risk Analysis: A concise evaluation of the potential risks associated with the development and implementation of the center or institute should be discussed:
          1. Cost risks (e.g. equipment acquisition, salaries, laboratory operations)
          2. Regulatory risks
          3. Environmental risks
          4. Legal risks
          5. Governance Issues
        5. Success Criteria: Explicitly define the criteria (measure and timing) that will indicate the unit is achieving success.
        6. Sustainability and Exit Strategies: Identify the plan for making the unit self supporting and describe the key indicators that will be monitored as "triggers" for implementing exit strategies. Discuss the implications of the proposed exit strategies that will be employed should they become necessary (e.g. the economic impact of the exit strategy scenarios).
        7. Appendices: Any necessary data or supporting documents relevant to the other sections of the proposal, including documentation from appropriate UTSA officials that confirms the commitment of any space and funds required by the center or institute.
    5. Approval of a new research center or institute is based primarily on the value of the proposed research center or institute to the mission and goals of the university. Criteria also include the need for the research center or institute, the extent of the plans for including students in its research activities, the amount of start-up funds and space required from the university, and the likelihood of obtaining outside funding for support of the research center or institute (sustainability) within a reasonable period of time.

  4. Funding for Research Centers and Institutes
    Funding for research centers and institutes should be exclusively or primarily from external sources. Exceptions may be made for new centers or institutes requesting a small amount of funding for start-up activities, including proposal development, course releases, temporary staff, student research assistantships and operating expenses. Funds for these purposes should be requested in the research center or institute proposal.

  5. Annual Reports
    All research centers and institutes must submit reports annually giving an account of research and scholarly activities performed during the preceding year. Elements of the report are detailed on the Vice President for Research website: http://research.utsa.edu/.

  6. Review of Research Centers and Institutes
    1. Each research center or institute must demonstrate a clear need for some number of faculty members to work together in a single administrative structure that allows them to carry out a research program more effectively than they would be able to do working individually or in informal partnerships. Approval of a proposed center or institute is made by the President of The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) on recommendation of the Provost and Vice President for Research. A research center or institute with a projected annual budget of more than $3M must be approved by the President and the University of Texas System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and must meet all requirements found in Board of Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 40000, Section 40602.
    2. If the disciplines represented in the research center are contained primarily within a single college, the director is appointed and reports to the Dean of the College. The director of an Institute, which encompasses faculty from multiple colleges, is appointed and reports to a Dean designated by the Vice President for Research with oversight by the Deans of all participating colleges.
    3. Faculty or academic administrators seeking to establish a new research center should submit a request to the Dean of their College. Faculty or administrators seeking to establish a new Institute should submit the request to the Vice President for Research. In either case the requests are reviewed by the College Dean, the Provost and the Vice President for Research who may seek input and advice from internal or external groups.