Missouri State University

University Center Policy

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Establishment and Continuation of Centers
  4. Management, Administration and Coordination of University Centers

I. Introduction

The University infrastructure consisting of Academic Affairs, Administrative Services, Financial Services, University Advancement and Student Affairs was developed to enable the fulfillment of the University mission. The University recognizes the establishment of centers provides an alternate alignment of resources to enhance the ability of the University to fulfill its mission. Center is a descriptor for organizations that are formally recognized as University units and function as an adjunct to the traditional University units, i.e., colleges and/or academic departments.

Centers are established to enhance the accomplishment of the University mission in a manner more effectively than would be possible through existing University units. In general, centers will be of two types based on their primary focus. The first type focuses on the provision of services to the University community for which support is provided primarily through University appropriated funds and student fees. The second type focuses primarily on the performance of multi-disciplinary research, education, training and service projects that serve both the University community and external entities, and receive support primarily from external sources including grants, contracts, fees (for services, workshops, conferences, etc.) and gifts. This policy addresses the second type and includes procedures for establishment, continuation, management and support of these centers.

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II. Definitions

To ensure that there is a common understanding of terms used in this policy, the following definitions are provided.

Institute -- an administrative entity that has the broadest mission of any of the non-traditional University units, having one or more primary focuses that are addressed from a multi-disciplinary perspective and usually is aligned at a university or college level

Center -- an administrative entity that has a broad mission that may extend beyond the disciplines found within an academic department, addresses the mission from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and usually is aligned at a college or departmental level, or within an institute

Bureau -- an administrative entity that has a relatively narrow focus which is addressed from a multi-disciplinary perspective, and usually exists within a department or center

Field Station -- an administrative entity that is equivalent to an institute, but because of the nature of its mission an alternate title is widely recognized as appropriate by a professional discipline

Clinic -- an administrative entity that would be equivalent to a center, but because of the nature of its mission an alternate title is widely recognized as appropriate by a professional discipline

Laboratory -- an administrative entity that would be equivalent to a bureau, but because of the nature of its mission an alternate title is widely recognized as appropriate by a professional discipline

Group, Office, etc. -- alternative titles to the previously described bureau used for a specific activity that could not be organized within other entities

Self-sufficiency -- a factor in determining the continuation of centers; it is achieved through a combination of ongoing acquisition of external funding and other resources, and the continued commitments of resources by other University units.

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III. Establishment and continuation of centers

For the purpose of this policy, the term "center" will apply to activities that also use other titles, e.g., bureaus, clinics, field stations, groups, laboratories, and institutes.

Development of a center plan

Centers will be established with the approval of the University's Board of Governors. To receive approval, a Center Plan will be developed and submitted for review by appropriate University units. For example, a plan developed within a department must be approved by the department head, dean, Vice President for Academic Affairs and President before submission to the Board of Governors. A center that will utilize resources of multiple departments within or across colleges must be approved by heads of departments and deans whose resources are to be involved in the center's activities. The Center Plan will address the following issues:

  1. Needs and why they can be addressed more effectively by the proposed center than existing University units
  2. Mission, goals and strategies of the proposed center that focus on the identified needs;
  3. Personnel who are to be involved in center activities will be identified, a faculty member or professional staff member will be nominated to serve as the director of the center, and administrative and technical support personnel will be identified, or position descriptions for new personnel will be included;
  4. Reporting lines will be defined within the existing University infrastructure;
  5. Proposed budget and sources of funding for the time of current University personnel and new personnel, purchase of equipment and supplies, travel and any other expenses essential for the establishment of the center and performance of its activities for the first year;
  6. Requests for University space, facilities, equipment and other resources will be described; and
  7. Proposed project activity and funding expectations for three years. (Proposed centers should not compete with existing units, but instead should expand the opportunities for the University to undertake projects that are consistent with its mission.)

The Center Plan shall be submitted through the reporting lines of University units that will be committing resources to the center. The plan and acknowledgment of commitments shall be submitted to the appropriate Vice President. If approved, the Center Plan will be presented to the Administrative Council for review, and to the President for approval. A summary of the Center Plan will be submitted to the University Board of Governors for review and approval.

Periodic review of University centers

Centers will undergo a periodic review depending on their level of activity and adequacy of resource support. In general, new centers will undergo annual reviews for three years or until self-sufficiency is achieved. Centers that have achieved self-sufficiency will undergo reviews no less than every five years. These reviews will include development of a Center Progress Report that addresses the following topics:

  1. Summary of center activities for the reporting period;
  2. Revenue and expenses for the reporting period;
  3. Proposed changes in mission, goals, strategies and resource requirements;
  4. Proposed changes in sources of support to ensure self-sufficiency whenever external sources of support or current commitments from other University units are to be reduced or discontinued; and
  5. Projected activities and revenue for three years (five years for self-sufficient centers).

The Center Progress Report will be submitted to University units that are committing resources to the center. The report and acknowledgments of commitments shall be submitted to the appropriate Vice President for review and approval 30 days prior to the expiration of the currently approved continuation period. A decision to continue the status of the center will be announced to the Administrative Council. Unless there are unresolved objections, the center and other involved University units will be notified of its continuation period -- five years for self-sufficient centers, one year for all others. Objections will be addressed and resolved prior to notification of a continuation period.

Discontinuation of University centers

Centers are established to enhance the ability of the University to fulfill its mission. A center may be discontinued when its activities are not consistent with the University's mission, are found to be counter to the harmonious implementation of the University's operations, or have failed to achieve self-sufficiency for two consecutive years. (New centers, however, have three years to achieve self-sufficiency.) Prior to termination, the appropriate Vice President will undertake a special review to determine the need for discontinuation of the center. A decision to discontinue a center will be presented to the Administrative Council for review and to the President for approval. A summary of the decision to discontinue a center will be submitted to the University Board of Governors for review and approval. A Termination Plan will then be developed to ensure that the outstanding project commitments are fulfilled and center resources are distributed in accordance with University policies and relevant contract requirements.

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IV. Management, administration and coordination of University centers

Management of a center

Centers shall be aligned within existing University units. A center director shall be nominated in the Center Plan. Once established, changes in directorship shall be submitted for approval by involved University units and the appropriate Vice President. Reporting lines will be consistent with a comparable level of University unit. For example, the director of a college level center will report to the dean. The director will have overall responsibility for the center including implementation of the Center Plan, developing affiliations with other University units consistent with the center mission, management and coordination of personnel associated with the center and submission of reports required under this policy.

Administration of a center

A center will be expected to provide personnel and other resources needed to administer all activities that are normally within the purview of a comparable level of University unit. For example, a college level center will be responsible for relevant administrative matters normally the responsibility of an academic department. This includes the publication of an annual report summarizing activities of the preceding year. This report will provide information that can be used in various University publications.

Coordination of University centers

The office of research administration will coordinate the review and approval of proposed centers, and will assist the appropriate Vice President in reviewing existing centers. This office will maintain the following records:

Original copies of Center Plans, acknowledgments of commitments and copies of the Board of Governors' approved resolution establishing a center; Original copies of Center Progress Reports, acknowledgments of commitments and approval of continuation by the appropriate Vice President; Original copies of Termination Plans, acknowledgments of approval by the involved University units; and copies of the Board of Governors' approved resolution to discontinue a center; and Copies of annual reports of centers.

The office of research administration will publish a list of existing University Centers and a summary of their activities in the Annual Report of Sponsored Projects.

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(Approved by SMSU Board of Governors on February 19, 1999)