Approver(s):

Executive Council

Authorizes Release:

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Responsible Area:

Academic Affairs

Review Cycle:

Annually or as required

Last Review:

January 2022

Academic Centers at St. Mary’s University promote, enhance, and energize scholarship and research in support of the University’s academic mission. The following policy describes the requirements for establishing an Academic Center or Institute (hereafter “Center”), the requirements for a Center’s continued operation, and the procedures for the dissolution of an established Center. Academic Centers at St. Mary’s are established through a provisional or perpetual recognition of its founding charter. A Center’s charter establishes its purpose, goals and manner of operation.

Definition of an Academic Center

A Center is defined as a single or multi-disciplinary unit organized to conduct educational, research or service activities. Centers are characterized by permanency, programmatic autonomy, and an annual operating budget fiscally independent of other academic units. A Center must have a logical connection with the mission of the University and its instructional, research, or service effort. A Center typically resides in a school or college and reports to its academic dean. It is possible for a Center to report directly to the Office of the Provost, and less frequently to the Office of the President.

Centers must possess funding sources, normally from accounts designated for that purpose and that provide for operations independent of university funds. All proposals for a new Center at St. Mary’s must identify potential funding sources. Unless supported by a major endowment, multiple funding sources are preferable since they provide the unit with greater long-term flexibility and security. A Center may apply for a provisional status while it seeks sources of funding. A Center need not apply for provisional status prior to applying for perpetual status if it has secured sufficient resources necessary for its operation.

The establishment of a new perpetual or provisional Center and the application of a provisional Center for perpetual status require the approval of the Academic Council, Executive Council, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President.  Perpetual Centers seeking a renewal of their existing charters are approved by the Office of the President in consultation with the Provost. If an existing charter undergoes substantial revision, it may be referred to the Academic Council, and Executive Council for approval by the President.

The President is the final authority on continued operations of all academic Centers at St. Mary’s. The President may suspend or close a Center at any time for cause.

Provisional Status

A proposal to establish a provisional Center requires the approval of the Academic Council, Executive Council, Provost, and President. Proposals are submitted to the Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, who may advance it to the Academic Council.  The proposal must include:

  1. A completed charter—charter template provided below
  2. A statement of support from the dean of the home school
  3. A description of annually recurring, start-up and other one-time expenses
  4. An Advancement and Sufficiency Plan, accompanied by a statement of support by the Vice President for Advancement
    1. Description of how the proposed Center will consistently and effectively work with University Advancement to secure self-sufficiency
    2. Description of potential short-term and long-term funding sources
    3. Description of anticipated known advancement activities
  5. A description of the anticipated space, facility, and technology requirements

A proposal must demonstrate a compelling purpose via the application materials, including the possibility for securing funding for meeting the financial needs of the proposed Center during the period of provisional establishment. A proposed Center must possess a reasonable outlook for becoming financially independent through the acquisition of external funding. 

If approved, a Center will receive a formal letter of recognition from the Office of the Provost. A recognized Center is expected to operate in accordance with its charter for the period indicated by the letter of recognition.  A Center may apply for perpetual recognition if it believes it has secured the financial resources necessary for continued operations. A Center that is not applying for perpetual recognition must reapply to be recognized as a provisional Center prior to the expiration of the term of its current approval.

Perpetual Recognition of a Center

A provisional Center may apply for perpetual recognition.  An application requires the following:

  1. A report describing the Center’s past achievements supported by quantitative and qualitative data; the description should be explicitly linked to the University’s Catholic, Marianist mission
  2. A financial summary describing the Center’s operating budget and funding sources A description of how the Center will continue to work with University Advancement to maintain self-sufficiency
  3. Letters of Support from the dean of the home school, the Vice President for Advancement, and the Provost
  4. A complete Charter; any changes to the Charter from that which governed the provisional Center should be clearly noted 

Annual Review Process

All Centers, including those with provisional status, will submit annual reports to the Office of the Provost. The report shall provide an overview of a Center’s accomplishments, its work to advance the mission of the University, and a detailed financial statement.

Renewal of Perpetual Status

A Center is often created to capitalize upon an emerging opportunity whose factors and circumstances may change over time.  Perpetual Centers must submit to the Office of the Provost an application to renew its perpetual status no later than March 1, of the fifth year since its last recognition of perpetual status. Applications must include the following.

  1. A report describing the Center’s recent achievements supported by quantitative and qualitative data must be presented; the work of the Center should be explicitly linked to the University’s Catholic, Marianist mission
  2. A financial summary describing three most recent years of the Center’s operating budget and funding sources
  3. A description of how the Center will continue to work with University Advancement to maintain self-sufficiency
  4. Letters of Support from the dean of the home school, the Vice President for Advancement, and the Provost
  5. A complete Charter; any changes to the Charter should be clearly noted

Applications will be reviewed and approved by the President in consultation with the Provost.

Loss of Funding

Centers that lose funding source(s) and that are unable to obtain new funding may be dissolved by the Office of the President.

Current Centers

With the adoption of this policy, a currently recognized academic Centers at St. Mary’s may be asked to complete the process described in the section on Renewal of Perpetual Status.

Charter Template  

The following Articles make up a Center’s Charter. When submitting a charter for approval, compose the document by providing descriptions for each of the following Articles

Article 1. Name of Center

Article 2. Relationship of the Center with the Catholic, Marianist Mission of the University

Article 3. Center Purpose Statement, Description in Full of the Center

Article 4. Center Activity, Outcomes, Services, and Products

Article 5. Affiliation and Reporting (To which academic unit or person will the Center report?)

Article 6. Role of Advisory Board (if applicable)

Article 7 Governance

Sections A. Appointment, Term, Qualifications, Rights and Responsibilities of Position of Director

Section B. Appointment, Term, Qualifications, Rights and Responsibilities of Affiliated Faculty or Staff not directly employed by the Center

Resource for Center Development

The Office of the Provost serves as a helpful first point-of-contact when considering the development of an academic center and can provide helpful information on University expectations for sufficiency, contribution to mission, and productivity of a proposed Center.

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