Procedures for Establishment and Review of Centers, Institutes and Laboratories

From time to time, University personnel seek to establish informal and formal relationships for the purposes of conducting research, enhancing teaching, and providing public service. The creation of suchcooperative entities is encouraged as being consistent with the mission and spirit of UMBC. This policy is not intended to include internal service centers such as the Advisement Center or Counseling Center.

The following UMBC guidelines are consistent with the USM Policy for the Establishment and Review of Centers and Institutes (May 31, 1994). The Policy states:

Centers, Institutes, Laboratories, and similar groups and organizations form the useful devices for organizing faculty and staff from different disciplines to focus on teaching, research, and/or service in an area of common interest. Centers and similar groups should be justified based on their contribution to specified missions’of research and service and by their relationship to instructional programs at the institution.

Centers, Institutes, Laboratories, and similar groups are designed to further the mission of the university. Academic credit associated with activities in these units, however, must be under the auspices of an appropriate academic department

UMBC Procedures


The first, and simplest type of unit,is called a Group. The Group is organized on an ad hoc basis to prepare a proposal or to conduct a specific project. The duration for the organization of the Group is limitedto the life of the project or assignment. No formal procedure is involved in the establishment of a Group other than written approval of the relevant department Chair and Dean. If a Group involves personnel from multiple academic units, written approval may be granted from the relevant Chairs, Dean(s)or supervisory officer(s).

Departmental Laboratories, Centers, and Institutes

Housed within departments and customarily involving one or two principal investigators, Departmental Laboratories, Centers, and Institutes are designed to provide a distinct identity to a focused research area or topic of investigations. A Departmental Laboratory, Center, or Institute may have a director, associated staff, and an operating budget; however, because of its size, mission, and function, it is an integral part of the academic department and therefore reports to the Chair of the relevant department. The department itself serves as home for the Departmental Laboratory, Center, or Institute, to nurture and support the management of its operations.

As with Groups, no formal procedure is required to establish a Departmental Laboratory, Center, or Institute other than written approval of the relevant department Chair and Dean. In cases where faculty seek to establish a small Laboratory,Center, or Institute that would involve faculty from more than one department, but Would in all likelihood not be able to be financially self-supporting, approval may be granted by the Chairs of the host departments who will undertake responsibility for the management of the unit,together with the written consent of the relevant Dean(s) or supervisory officer(s). Reporting and review of these departmentally affiliated units shall be conducted within the regular departmental and academic program review processes.

When a Departmental Laboratory, Center, or Institute anticipates engaging UMBC resources beyond those within the jurisdiction of the department(s)– including space, equipment, or staff support, in addition to the appropriate administrative review,the matter should be forwarded to the Academic Flaming and Budget Committee (APB) for timely discussion, with a recommendation to the Faculty Senate. Identification of how the unit addresses UMBC’s mission should be delineated. Should UMBC resources be forthcoming to assist the departmentally-based unit,then the Director of the unit will be obligated to complete a brief annual report which includes a description of the UMBC resources assigned to the unit (e.g., space, funding, faculty and staff, overhead support),the benefits derived from this investment, and the continued relationship of the unit’s activities to the UMBC mission. The format for the annual report will be distributed by the Office of the Provost in April of each year. In addition to the distribution of a completed annual reportto the relevant UMBC administrators,the report will be sent to the UMBC Research Council,the APB Committee, and the Faculty Senate. When a Departmental Center or Institute has grown sufficiently and seeks to operate as its own administrative unit outside of a department, it may apply to become a free-standing UMBC Center or Institute.

UMBC Centers and Institutes

UMBC Centers or Institutes are comparable to an academic program without departmental status. They may involve both external and State funding and may appear as organized units in the working budget. Headed by a Director, they have a formal administrative structure designating clear reporting lines to a Dean or supervisory officer. Centers and Institutes may be supported by general funds, but in most cases, they are designed to attract external resources. Customarily, Centers and Institutes are designed be responsive to societal needs and are therefore able to attract external funds. Often, they are self-supporting units and will follow standard campus procedures in establishing and managing fiscal accounts.

As comparatively independent and flexible units, Centers and Institutes must establish and have approved by the UMBC President,a formal proposal that outlines need, mission, governance, proposed activities, reporting lines, personnel involved and space required,total resources involved (includingstart-up costs, long‐termcosts, administrative costs, etc), and appointment procedures for its respectiveDirector. All UMBC Centers and Institutes are to establish an Advisory Board and promulgate a set of by-laws. Membership of the Advisory Board must consist of at least two or more tenure-track UMBC faculty who are not part of the administrative structure of the unit. ‘ All academic units that seek to be formally designated as UMBC Centers and Institutes are to submit aproposal for sequential review and endorsement to the department(s) whose faculty, space, and other resources are involved,to the Dean(s) or appropriate supervisory officer, the Provost,and final actionby the UMBC President. Absent extraordinary circumstances, a full written proposal for a UMBC Center or Institute that includes university resources such as(but not limited to) space, faculty lines, or administrative overhead, shall be forwarded to the President of the Faculty Senate for timely review and comment by the APB Committee and the Faculty Senate prior to approval by the UMBCPresident. Authorization for final approval rests with the UMBC President. The UMBC President shall report the establishment of each new UMBC Center or Institute to the USM Chancellor and the Board of Regents.

Centers and Institutes are requiredby the USM to prepare anannual report and will participate in a periodic review based on a seven‐year cycle. Annual reports and periodic review > reports will be distributed to the relevant academic administrators and will be disseminated to the Research Council, APB Committee, and the Faculty Senate. The format for the annual report will be distributed by the Office of the Provost in April of each year. The units will be asked to include in their annual report a statement of the UMBC Center or Institute’s goals and objectives for the academic year about to be completed, the extent to which those objectives have been accomplished‐ including quantitative measures where possible (e.g.,activities undertaken; academic productivity including: numbers of journal papers,books, and conference presentations; numbers and types of grants; overhead generated; individuals served; community impact; personnel; national awards), UMBC resources assigned to the unit (e.g., space, funding, faculty and staff, overhead support), opportunities and challenges faced by the unit, the relationship of the unit’s activities to the UMBC mission, and goals and objectives for the upcoming year.

The periodic review of UMBC Centers and Institutes will parallel the structure and standards of the periodic review undertaken by graduate programs and will include an external, independent, nationally-recognized, visitation team with expertise in the areas of teaching, research,or service allied with the mission of the Institute or Center. The review will be conducted by the Graduate School in consultation with the office in which the Center resides. The review report will provide independent feedback based onthe contribution of the Center or Institute to the specified teaching, research,or service mission at UMBC.

Approved by Faculty Senate, 9/12/00