4.13 Policy on Centers

1. References

Academic Affairs Handbook, Board of Regents, University System of Georgia, July 1, 1986.

Centers and Institutes policy statement approved by the University Council, January 26, 1993 and revised June 4, 1998, December 2009, and April 2019.

2. Definitions

Centers are organizational forms designed to further the university's education, research, and public service missions in ways that cannot be addressed through traditional structures, such as departments, schools, and colleges. Although centers are an integral part of the university, their missions should not duplicate those of departments, schools, colleges, and other centers or institutes. Instead, they should offer programs or opportunities that cannot be offered at least as well through existing structures. The key ingredient of any center is strategic "value added."

Centers provide an organizational base for university mission-related activities in one or more academic areas. They pursue activities that may include, but are not limited to, interdisciplinary research involving faculty, students, and staff from a variety of academic disciplines, offering continuing education activities related to their area(s) of interest, or facilitating efforts of the department, school, college, or university to obtain extramural funding in specific areas. Centers may serve as a formalized link between the academic community and the professional community in the area(s) of interest.

A center cannot offer for-credit courses or degree programs.

This definition of center is not to be confused with facilities that include “Center” in their name (e.g., The Ramsey Student Center) or units that provide ongoing administrative or support services (e.g., The Learning Disabilities Center).

3. Administration of Centers

a. Administration and Governance

Centers may report directly to a vice president or be administratively located within a department, school, college, or other unit that reports directly to a vice president.

If a Center has active participation of faculty from multiple academic units, the Center should organize an executive committee with input from the deans of the relevant academic units to provide advisory guidance to the Center director.  If a Center’s faculty report directly to a vice president, the Center should organize an executive committee with input from the vice president.

b. Appointments

Center directors will be appointed with standard review processes which may vary depending upon the dean or vice president to whom the director reports.

Tenure-track and tenured faculty appointed in academic departments or schools/colleges in accordance with normal appointment procedures may participate in centers. Both the center and academic unit must agree on the appointment arrangement of a tenure-track faculty member in the center, as well as the arrangement for indirect cost flow for grants generated by the faculty member.

All tenure-track faculty members should have time budgeted in a department that includes formal instruction. An exception to this teaching responsibility requires the approval of the appropriate department head and dean. This is to ensure that center tenure-track faculty have regular contact with the department in which tenure resides and, in particular, with teaching and graduate student mentoring.

Although some portion of tenure-track faculty time may be budgeted in a center, tenure and promotion processes will be initiated through the relevant department or school. However, the department or school review process will be organized to reflect the advice and recommendation of a center if a third or more of the faculty member's appointment is in the center. Merit salary decisions for those faculty with time divided between a department/school and a center will be made jointly. Non-tenure-track faculty with time budgeted in a center as well as in other units will have their promotions and merit raises managed in a manner which must be determined at the time of appointment.

Although a center may partner with an academic unit in the appointment of a new faculty member, the center may not serve as the tenure home for the faculty member.  If a tenure-track faculty member is appointed jointly and the department supports tenure but the center does not want to continue the appointment, then it will be the sole responsibility of the department to fund the faculty member if tenure is approved in the university review process. If the department does not support tenure, even though the center favors tenure, then tenure will not be awarded. A position vacated because of tenure denial will not be allocated by the department for different purposes without the explicit knowledge of the center director and the explicit approval of administrative unit head, dean, or vice president. Similarly, if the services of a non-tenure-track faculty member are not to be continued in a center, and another unit sharing that person's services wishes to retain his or her services, then the other unit is responsible for obtaining any needed salary.

4. Establishment of Centers

a. Criteria
Establishment and maintenance of a center must be based upon a defined 
program with measurable outcomes, defined policies and operating procedures, 
and a defined review process. The establishment of a center is justified i) when 
its mission clearly supports and enhances the programs of the university; and ii) 
when the mission cannot be accomplished in an efficient and effective manner 
through existing departments, schools, colleges, institutes, or other units.

Centers that are sponsored by external entities may be formed following guidelines of the sponsoring agencies with approval from Sponsored Projects Administration and the Vice President for Research.

b. Proposals
Proposals must include a narrative that states center goals and describes how 
they will meet the criteria as outlined in 4.a above; the statement of goals must 
include specific outcomes and metrics that will be used to measure progress    
toward the goals.

The proposal must indicate the administrative unit and the leadership position  
within that unit to which the center reports and must designate the process by 
which the center will be reviewed. The center may be reviewed: (a) as part of     
the Program Review of the administrative unit; (b) by the administrative unit; or 
(c) in another specified and approved manner.

Proposals should also contain:

  i. A statement of operating procedures and policies. These should include a      
    description of the governance structure, the roles and responsibilities of any 
    participating units, the executive committee structure, and the processes for 
    faculty and staff appointment or reappointment.

  ii. A description of amounts and sources of anticipated income. Anticipated    
    financial arrangements between the center and other units including IDC flow, 
    if any, should also be described, and supporting documentation should be 
    included. A projected budget covering the first three years of operation should 
    be included and should detail expenditures and income expected.

  iii. A description of the faculty and staff necessary to initiate its programs and 
    maintain its operations for the first three years.

  iv. A description of the physical resources that the center will occupy and utilize
    during its first three years.

  v. A list of participating faculty, their home units, and their roles in the center,     
    including a description of the formal arrangements through which faculty will 
    participate with the center, will be evaluated for promotion, tenure, and salary 
    increases, and the extent to which affiliated faculty members will have their   
    salary contained in its budget.

  vi. Letters of support from affected departments, schools, colleges, other units, 
    and the administrator who would have oversight responsibilities.

5. Procedure

Any interested staff or faculty member may originate a proposal but prior to submission for formal review the proposal must be submitted for recommendations and comments to the heads of those units whose faculty and staff are involved. The route of review will depend in part on the originating source. For example, a proposal originating within a single academic unit would have successive reviews by the appropriate committee within the academic unit and by the dean.

A proposal for a new center must be routed to the Vice President for Research for review. If the Vice President for Research recommends approval, the proposal should be routed to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost for final approval. If approved, the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost shall forward the approved proposal to the Executive Committee of the University Council for inclusion on the University Council agenda as an information item.

If a center proposal is approved, a copy of the proposal, with approvals, must be sent to the Office of Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness for its records.

6. Regular Reports and Reviews

Centers will undergo an initial review by the administrative unit, to be completed by the end of the third year of existence. Subsequent review should occur no less frequently than once every seven years. 

  a. Regular Reports

    Centers should submit reports to the administrative unit at least every five    
    years or more frequently if required by the accepted practices of their 
    administrative unit.

  b. Reviews

    Centers will undergo an initial review by the administrative unit, to be 
    completed by the end of the third year of existence. The initial center review 
    should summarize progress toward its stated goals and demonstrate how it 
    adds value to the university. Thereafter, the center will be reviewed as part of 
    the normal cycle of review as specified in its initial proposal. Review should 
    occur no less frequently than once every seven years.

    Centers undergoing review should follow the format prescribed by the    
    administrative unit to which they report; generally speaking, they should 
    address any changes to resources, commitments, or operating agreements as 
    specified in the original proposal or most recent review.

    The review report for a third-year or normal cycle review of a center must    
    include a statement that continuation of the center is either recommended or 
    not recommended. If continuation is not recommended, the administrative unit 
    head will decide whether to invoke the process for dissolution, described 

  c. Documentation

    The periodic reports and all reviews of a center will be made available to the 
    Office of Accreditation and Institutional Effectiveness.

7. Recommendations for Changes or Dissolution

Recommendations for dissolution may be made either (1) as a result of periodic institutional review consistent with program review guidelines, (2) through typical department, school or college, or institutional processes, or (3) termination of external funding if a center is supported with such funding. Recommendations for dissolution will be made if a center fails to meet the substantive conditions for its establishment or does not provide the "value added" requisite of a center. Any such recommendations should include a statement on how affected faculty and staff will be reassigned.

Recommendations for center name changes, significant mission changes, or dissolution must be submitted to the Vice President for Research for review. If the Vice President for Research recommends the action, the request should be routed to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. If approved by the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the recommendation will be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the University Council for inclusion on the University Council agenda as an information item.

Approved by Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, January 15, 2021