Establishment of Centers

Policy number: 2.24

Policy section: Academic Affairs

Revised Date: December 16, 2019

1.  Policy Statement

It is the policy of the University to establish Centers in selected areas to facilitate research and program development and to enhance the University's response to the needs of the larger community.

2.  Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the organization and operations of Centers.

3.  Characteristics of a Successful and Effective Center

  1. A Center should enhance the research and program activities of faculty without being burdened by competing administrative layers.
  2. The activities of a Center should complement the activities of the existing academic units of the University rather than compete with them.
  3. A Center should facilitate collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects which involve faculty from several departments and schools.
  4. A Center should respond to the needs of the community and be consistent with the University's mission.

4.  Organization

The organization of Centers consists of the following:

  1. The Director of the Center is appointed by the Provost, upon recommendation of the appropriate Dean(s), and serves for a term of five years or less. For faculty members serving under a fixed-term contract, the Director’s term should not exceed the length of the contract.

    The Director is responsible for assuring that the terms and conditions of all contracts and grants are met. The Director will initiate action on matters of policy, program, personnel, projects, and budget. The Director will receive proposals and pass them on with recommendations to the Executive Board for their consideration. The Director will also implement the Center's policies and actions relating to program, personnel, and budget (i) by allocating personnel and funds according to the general plans adopted by the Executive Board, (ii) by making appointments of research and development personnel with the supporting recommendation of the Executive Board, and the final approval of the appropriate Dean and other University officials as required, and (iii) by formulating the budget for the approval of the Executive Board and the appropriate Dean(s).

    The Director is also responsible for planning and review of the work of the various program components of the Center. Specifically, the Director will chair, with vote, the regular meetings of the Executive Board at which (i) proposals for action on matters of policy, program, personnel, projects, and budget will be considered, (ii) progress in various program components and projects will be reported, reviewed, and evaluated, (iii) desirable revisions of ongoing research and development projects will be formulated, and (iv) plans for new programs and projects will be adopted.

    Director of the Center will have overall responsibility for the various programs. The heads of the various programs will be responsible to the Director for implementing the research and development policies and programs established by the Executive Board. Each program head will be responsible for (i) defining and clarifying the objectives of their programs, (ii) relating the work of that component to the other programs and to the goals of the Center, (iii) assigning and coordinating personnel allocated to their programs, and (iv) reporting periodically in writing on the work of their programs.

  2. The Executive Board will consist of the Director and a minimum of three persons who will be drawn from heads of programs or other faculty with expertise in the disciplines served by the Center. The actual size of the Board will be dependent on the magnitude of activities of the Center, but it will not exceed nine. Members of the Board, other than the Director, will be appointed annually each June by the Dean(s), after consultation with the Director and members of the Center. The Dean will serve ex officio.

    The Executive Board will be responsible for formulating the goals of the Center, for establishing general policies and programs in harmony therewith, for reviewing and evaluating the progress of the various programs, for recommending the appointment of professional personnel, and the Center Budget. It will normally (i) meet once per month, (ii) have agenda prepared by the Director, distributed in advance, with supporting documentation, (iii) meet with the Advisory Panel, (iv) assist in policy interpretation and implementation, and (v) keep minutes of its meetings and distribute them to the members of the Center, the Dean, the Provost, and the President. The Executive Board will appoint ad hoc, or permanent, advisory committees to the various programs of the Center as they are needed.

  3. The Advisory Panel will consist of five to twelve persons appointed annually by the Provost upon recommendation of the Executive Board. The membership of the Panel will reflect the broader objectives and public interest aspects of the activities of the Center. The members of the panel will not include anyone from the Center, except the Director in an ex officio capacity, and will be drawn from (i) business, industry and governmental agencies as these relate to the particular concerns of the Center, (ii) the several faculties of SMU, and (iii) other persons whose expertise is deemed beneficial to the progress of the Center. The Dean will serve as ex officio chairperson of the panel.

The Advisory Panel will meet to review the programs and activities of the Center with particular reference to (i) its role in support of the mission of the University, (ii) its progress in fulfilling its objectives, (iii) modes of strengthening its current operations, and (iv) pressing research and educational needs and new directions.

A written record of each meeting will be prepared and circulated to the Provost, the Deans, the Executive Board, and the Principal Investigators.

5.  Operations

The operation of the Center aims at fulfilling its objectives of responding to research and community needs consistent with the University’s mission. The following broad outlines are established:

  1. A Center should establish clearly stated objectives that respond to research and community needs.
  2. A Center should have a nucleus of faculty members who subscribe to these objectives.
  3. A Center may receive initial administrative support in the form of seed money, if necessary. The objective of the Center is to make it self-sustaining through external support in the form of gifts, endowment and/or research funds.
  4. The solicitation of funds by a Center will be monitored through the University Development Office in the case of gift and endowment requests, and the Office of Research Administration in the case of requests for research funding.
  5. A Center may be operated entirely within a School or between two or more Schools. Here, Dedman College is identified as a School for this purpose. In the former case, the line of responsibility is clearly identified. In the latter case, one of the Schools will be identified as home base for the Center and the Dean(s) of the associated School(s) will become ex officio member(s) of the Advisory Panel.

6.  Remarks

The Centers may be established on a temporary or trial basis and may be dissolved either when their mission is accomplished or when they are unlikely to be self-sustaining. The Provost may make adjustments to a particular Center, as needed, to meet the needs of that Center.

7.  Questions

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Provost.

Revised: December 16, 2019

Adopted: June 1, 1994