Guidelines for Centers and Institutes
Illinois State University centers and institutes are organized, named entities affiliated with and recognized by the University, and whose primary purpose is to conduct multidisciplinary research, teaching, and/or service. Illinois statutes and administrative code provide for the state authorization and recognition of centers and institutes through the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).
Illinois State University encourages multidisciplinary initiatives and seeks to support the development of centers and institutes that
- are unique/serve a currently unmet need,
- promote collaborations within and across academic units,
- promote multidisciplinary approaches to research,
- promote research that informs teaching and supports student learning,
- expand faculty-student research collaborations,
- increase the ability of units and their faculty to obtain external funding,
- promote the dissemination and application of research for the benefit of the citizens of Illinois and beyond.
Upon establishment, centers and institutes are entitled to the following University resources:
- A website on a University server and linked to the University webpage, typically through the Provost’s Office and/or the Office of Research and Graduate Studies,
- University accounts appropriate to the funding source(s),
- A formal University identity provided by University Marketing and Communications,
- Fiscal oversight by the unit to which the center or institute reports.
Formally established centers and institutes must
- support the mission and promote the values of Illinois State University,
- employ responsible fiscal management of resources,
- be led by a director who can articulate the unit’s mission and facilitate collaborations,
- submit annual reports to the appropriate supervising unit,
- strive for fiscal sustainability (ideally expected to be self-sufficient in a fixed timeframe).
Definitions and Terminology
Centers are units of research, teaching, and/or public service located within a college, school, or department. Centers report to either a department/school or a college. (see existing examples at Illinois State)
- Centers reporting to a department or school typically involve a single field of study or multiple fields that are closely related. Most faculty members identifying with such centers have their locus of tenure within the same department or school. The director of the center reports to the department chairperson or school director, who serves as the budget officer for the center. Current examples include the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education and Center for Welfare and Adoption Studies.
- Centers reporting to a college typically involve multiple fields of study associated with the same college. Most faculty members identifying with such centers have their locus of tenure in departments or schools affiliated with the same college. The director of the center reports to the college dean, who also serves as the budget officer for the center. Current examples include the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support.
- Existing units located at the campus level with the name "institute" in their title may retain their current name.
Institutes are units of research, teaching, and/or public service located at the campus level, or that include units from multiple colleges. (see existing examples at Illinois State)
- Institutes are interdisciplinary and typically involve fields of study from more than one college. Faculty members from any campus unit can be affiliated with an institute. The institute director reports to the Provost’s Office through an associate vice president or an associate provost, who also serves as the budget officer for the institute. Current examples include the Adlai Stevenson II Center for Community and Economic Development and the National Center for Urban Education.
- Existing units located at the campus level with the name "Center" in their title may retain their current name. Institutes that prefer to use "Center" in their official title may do so with adequate justification.
IBHE Authorization means that the center or institute has been formally authorized and recognized by the IBHE. Seeking IBHE authorization is voluntary on the part of the center or institute. Being authorized by the IBHE may provide benefits through increased statewide exposure and enhanced opportunities for external funding. This authorization may be granted on a temporary basis or a permanent basis as described below.
- Temporary IBHE authorization may not exceed a period of five years. At any time during the temporary authorization period the center may chose to seek permanent authorization. At the end of the temporary period, the center either 1) continues to operate but with permanent status (if this status is received prior to the end of the temporary authorization period), 2) continued to operate but without the IBHE recognition, or 3) discontinues operations.
- Permanent IBHE authorization allows the center or institute to operate as an IBHE-recognized center indefinitely.
Establishing a Center or Institute
A request to establish a center or institute may be made by any faculty member or group of faculty members at the University. Efforts to establish a center or institute typically begin with informal conversations among interested faculty members and then informal discussions involving the appropriate department chairperson(s) or school director(s) and college dean(s). Conversations should also be initiated with the associate vice president for research (for centers/institutes that are primarily research focused) or the associate provost (for centers/institutes that are primarily curricular or service focused).
After these discussions, if the faculty members decide to formally request the establishment of a center, they should compile a written proposal that (Online Submission Form), at minimum, includes the following content:
- Mission and purpose, including its relation to the University’s mission and strategic plan
- Anticipated research, teaching, and/or service activities
- Affiliated academic units and faculty members (a minimum of two core faculty members is expected to begin and maintain a center/institute)
- Proposed organizational structure and reporting lines
- Staffing plan
- Budget, including committed sources of funding. If any of these funding sources are considered seed funding, a sustainability plan (with a timeline) must be included
- Grant administration plan. If the primary source(s) of funding is(are) external, a plan for operating the center or institute without this funding source, or a plan for reducing or ceasing operations, must be included. University funding will not replace lost external funding.
- Facilities (including space) to be used, including where, if applicable, equipment and resources currently being used and which unit(s) currently support it (them)
- Measures of success and timelines for meeting these measures
- Draft bylaws. View template
- External letters of support (if appropriate)
Proposals for centers and institutes must attain the following approvals
- Chairperson or director of each department or school from which faculty members are most likely to be affiliated with the center
- Dean of each college from which faculty members are most likely to seek affiliation with the center
- Associate vice president for research (for centers/institutes that are primarily research focused) or the associate provost (for centers/institutes that are primarily curricular or service focused)
The Provost makes the final decision regarding the establishment of a center or institute.
|Temporary Informal Center
|Temporary Formal Center
|Board of Trustees
|Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
|Documentation for External Bodies
|Temporary Informal Center
|Temporary Formal Center
|Annual listing of Changes (IBHE)
|Notice of Intent (IBHE)
|Reasonable and Moderate Extension (RME, IBHE)
|New unit application (IBHE)
Illinois State University's Board of Trustees (BoT)
The approval of the Board of Trustees is required prior to the establishment of any new unit of instruction which is submitted to the Illinois Board of Higher Education for approval. These items include new degree programs, certificate of advanced study, professional development sequences, centers, institutes, departments, schools, divisions, campuses, off-campus programs, and international programs. The Board of Trustees typically have four meetings per year (Feb., May, July, Oct.). (See Illinois State's governing document)
IBHE Application Process
Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) - Once proposals have been approved through Illinois State's internal approving bodies, those that require IBHE approval will be further developed in conjunction with the Office of the Provost. Submissions to IBHE are made by the Office of the Provost (not directly by faculty, units, or colleges).
New unit proposal (for permanent centers) - New programs (and certificates that are not related to an existing program) require full board IBHE approval. The Board typically meets 5 times annually. Normally submissions should be received about 4-6 months prior to the board date. New unit proposals are prepared by the Office of the Provost in collaboration with the unit, and submitted by the Office of the Provost to IBHE.
- Notice of Intent (NOI) for IBHE – an NOI for the new program is submitted by the Office of the Provost. NOIs are required of all institutions seeking operating or degree granting authority in Illinois. These notices are posted online and open for public comment for a period of 30 days from the date of submission.
- IBHE new unit proposal template - coming soon
- Tips and FAQs for new unit proposals - coming soon
- Reasonable and Moderate Extension (RME) (for temporary centers) – There are specific guidelines that allow for an IBHE staff member review rather than a full IBHE board review. RMEs are prepared by the Office of the Provost in coordination with the unit. Once submitted to IBHE, their staff member reviews the proposal and determines whether or not the proposal should be approved.
The name of a center or institute should reflect its primary function or disciplinary orientation, and when possible be named "Center for ..." or "Institute for ..." to distinguish it from other types of campus units and buildings (e.g. Mail Services Center, Bone Student Center, Career Center, Alumni Center). The name should not include terms that may lead to confusion with other types of University units (e.g. "school", "department", "college", "office", "division"). When appropriate and with approval from the Provost, alternative terms such as "unit", "consortium", "program", "organization", or other appropriate term may be used.
Centers and institutes must be funded through some combination of resources external to the University, revenues generated by the center or institute, and resources internal to the University. It is expected that all centers and institutes strive for fiscal sustainability through external resources and center/institute revenue. No center or institute should expect to receive University funding if planned external funding or center/institute revenue fail to materialize.
Seed money may be made available through the Provost’s Office or the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, but such funds will be provided for no more than 3 years.
Each center and institute will have a dedicated budget line within the budget of the parent unit (i.e. department/school, college, or Provost’s Office), and will prepare an annual budget for approval by the parent unit. The parent unit will maintain close fiscal oversight of the center or institute.
Facilities and Administration (F&A, Indirect) Costs
F&A costs collected from external revenue sources by the center or institute are distributed according to University policy (7.6.3). In the absence of a prior agreement, the following process will be used.
- Center principal investigators (PIs) will retain their PI share.
- Centers reporting to a department will not directly receive a distribution of indirect costs, although the center director may negotiate with the department chair or school director to receive a fraction of the departmental allocation.
- Centers reporting to the college will receive an amount equal to the departmental portion of the indirect cost distribution, currently 20% of the total distribution.
- Institutes will receive an amount equal to the college and departmental portions of the indirect cost distribution, currently 44% of the total distribution.
Centers and institutes must have clearly defined reporting lines and may not report to more than one entity.
Each center and institute should have bylaws that describe the a) administrative structure and reporting lines, b) term, remuneration, qualifications, selection, and review process for the director, c) nature of faculty affiliations with the center and the process through which these affiliations are established and maintained, and d) means by which input from internal and external stakeholders is gathered.
The center or institute director is appointed by the head of the unit to which the center reports, and this appointment is subject to approval by the Provost. The director is reviewed annually by the head of the unit in which the center or institutes is located. At a minimum, the center or institute director will
- establish the unit’s goals and objectives,
- monitor progress toward the unit’s goals and objectives,
- compile and oversee the annual center budget,
- work toward and maintain fiscal sustainability,
- supervise and evaluate the unit’s staff,
- submit required reports to the University and external stakeholders in a timely manner, and
- comply with all applicable University policies and procedures.
Review of Centers and Institutes
All centers and institutes will submit an annual report to their parent administrative unit as appropriate to their local governance documents. (Annual Report template to be developed). All centers and institutes are also formally evaluated at least once every four years. Prior to this first formal evaluation, newly-established units will be evaluated each year for progress towards sustainability and achievement of the measures of success outlined in its application. Centers and institutes that fail to make progress in these areas are subject to administrative disestablishment.
- Centers and institutes affiliated with the University but not authorized by IBHE are evaluated according to procedures developed by the associate provost. In the years between the 4-year formal reviews, the administrative entity to which the center or institute reports, in collaboration with the associate provost, is responsible for monitoring the unit’s performance. Review Template
- Centers and institutes authorized by IBHE are evaluated according to program review policies and procedures promulgated by the Academic Planning Committee. The process of evaluating IBHE-authorized centers is facilitated by the associate provost. A summary report compiled by the Academic Planning Committee for each center review is included in the annual Academic Plan submitted by the Office of the Provost to the Academic Senate and the Board of Trustees for their review.
All centers are also subject to periodic auditing by the University’s Office of Internal Auditing. The schedule for internal audits is established by the Office of Internal Auditing with input from the Office of the Provost.
Centers and institutes are often not permanent but are typically formed to facilitate collaborations related to specific disciplines or timely issues and should therefore be disestablished when their objectives have been met, when faculty participation wanes, when an unsatisfactory evaluation report is received two times in a row, or when the unit is no longer financially sustainable.
Centers and institutes are disestablished by action of the Provost. Prior to disestablishing a center or institute, the Provost shall consult with the center or institute director, the chair(s) or director(s) of the associated unit(s), the dean(s) of the associated college(s), and the appropriate associate vice president or associate provost. The Provost shall also inform the Academic Affairs Committee of the Academic Senate of the proposed closure.
A request to disestablish a center or institute may be made by the Provost at the request of the center or institute director, the head of any administrative unit associated with the center or institute, or upon a recommendation resulting from a regularly-scheduled review. Disestablishment of IBHE-authorized centers or institutes shall be reported to the IBHE by the Office of the Provost through its annual listing of program changes, as required by Illinois statutes and administrative code. In the absence of other stipulations, assets of the deactivated center/institute will revert to the control of the parent unit.
In lieu of disestablishing a center or institute, the Provost may place it in inactive status. When doing so, the Provost shall communicate the reason to the center or institute director and to all other internal stakeholders. In the absence of other stipulations, assets of the center/institute in inactive status will revert to the control of the parent unit. The Provost shall also communicate activities the center or institute may undertake while in inactive status, and the actions needed for restoration to active status. Prior approval from IBHE staff is required for placing an IBHE-authorized center or institute on inactive status, and for its return to active status.