04-01.00 – Policy and Procedures for the Establishment and Review of Centers and Institutes

  1. Scope:

    Centers and Institutes and similar groups and organizations form 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 Institutes should be justified on the basis of their contributions to specified missions of research and service and by their relationship to instructional programs at the institution. This policy aims to recognize Center and Institutes as organizational entities designed to facilitate research, foster collaboration, and to enrich the academic experience, and articulates the authorities, processes, and procedures for establishing and disestablishing centers and institutes at Towson University.

  2. Definitions

    1. The term “Center” or “Institute” generally refers to an organized, non-departmental unit; it may or may not have external or state funding and a separately identified budget; it usually has a formal administrative structure headed by a director. Centers and Institutes have varied missions, and with few exceptions do not award degrees. Differences among these kinds of units usually are related to their degree of permanence and the level of commitment to them by the institution or the University System of Maryland ("USM").

      1. "Center" shall mean an academic and/or research-based entity, which engages faculty, staff, and/or students in areas of specialized focus within one institutional unit or across multiple institutional units. 

      2. "Institute" shall refer to those academic and/or research-based entities that engage faculty, staff, and/or students in areas of specialized focus within a College, across multiple Colleges, or university-wide, and has the prominence and stature that is typically intended to have a level of permanence similar to that of an academic department.

  3. Responsible Executives and Offices:

    Responsible Executive:
    Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs

    Responsible Office:
    Office of the Provost

  4. Establishing a Center or Institute

    1. Proposal and Executive Summary. To establish a Center or Institute in accordance with this Policy, a Proposal shall be submitted to the Office of the Provost. All proposals shall include the following and shall be reviewed by the Review Committee, as further defined herein:
      1. Executive Summary of the scope and purpose of the proposed Center or Institute;
      2. Mission of Proposed Center or Institute and explanation of why the Proposed Center or Institute should be created, including how the mission of the Center or Institute meets the broader institutional mission;
      3. Description of proposed organizational structure, including leadership and administration, proposed faculty (if applicable);
      4. Strategic plan;
      5. Financial Plan, which shall include the following:
        1. Estimated space, facilities, equipment needs, administrative support, personnel, and plan for meeting these needs;
        2. Estimated funding and resources needed to initiate and sustain the proposed Center or Institute for the first three (3) years, including requested Towson University funds (if any), and plans for meeting these needs; and
        3. Potential for revenue generation.
      6. Sustainability plan, including goals and benchmarks of the Center or Institute, which shall include criteria and plans for periodic review and assessments of Center or Institute's contributions to the institution.
    2. Review and Approval of Proposals; Formal Establishment of Center or Institute.
      1. The establishment of a Center or Institute within the institution shall require submission of a proposal, as further described herein. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee comprised of three standing members, which shall include the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the Associate Provost for Research, and the Vice President for University Advancement and a minimum of one ad hoc member selected by the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs (collectively, the "Review Committee"). The Review Committee will review Proposals in accordance with this Policy and may approve, reject, or return the proposal for resubmission. Any decision will be issued in writing by the Review Committee. 
      2. The establishment of a Center or Institute that is multi-institutional shall require the approval of the Chancellor.
      3. The establishment of a Center or Institute that is administratively separate from an institution shall require the approval of the Board of Regents.
  5. Monitoring and Ensuring Compliance of Centers and Institutes

    1. Compliance with Policies and Procedures
      1. All Centers and Institutes must comply with all applicable institutional and System-wide policies.
      2. Those Centers or Institutes which receive federal funds must, in addition, ensure compliance with federal laws, regulations, and policies, in particular those regarding the conduct of research.
      3. Any substantial changes in leadership or structure of any established Center or Institute must be made in consultation with the appropriate relevant Dean(s) and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and any other appropriate university officials in the discretion of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.
    2. Monitoring and Review Procedures
      1. Each Center and Institute will be reviewed after three years of its initiation, and then every five (5) years thereafter, or earlier as may be determined within the discretion of the institution, or upon request by the Center or Institute, by the relevant Dean(s), or by the Review Committee, to determine whether the Center or Institute continues to meet its mission and is sufficiently meeting goals and benchmarks in accordance with its Strategic Plan. These periodic reviews will include consideration of:
        1. Continued alignment with mission and purpose of the university and the stated mission and purpose of the Center or Institute;
        2. Review and assessment of activities of the Center or Institute;
        3. Assessment of financial viability;
        4. Evaluation of organizational and administrative structures and effectiveness thereof;
        5. Research and scholarship activities of the Center or Institute;
        6. Community engagement and outreach activities of the Center or Institute;
        7. Feedback from university stakeholders·
        8. Additional considerations as may be necessary or advisable within the discretion of the Review Committee.
      2. Following completion of the review and the recommendations of the Review Committee, after consultation with the President and appropriate institutional stakeholders, the Review Committee may require any number of actions, which may include, but are not limited to:
        1. Approve the Center or Institute to continue operations with no modifications·
        2. Require a reorganization or consolidation plan;
        3. Rename the Center or Institute (in accordance with any applicable USM and university policies and procedures);
        4. Modification of the reporting structure;
        5. Provide a plan for dissolving or disestablishing the Center or Institute. Such plan will contemplate any ongoing obligations of the Center or Institute and address fulfillment of any such obligations.
      3. The Office of the Provost will maintain an active list of all Centers and Institutes.

Related Policies:

USM Policy IV-1.00, Policy for the Establishment and Review of Centers and Institutes in the University System of Maryland

Approval Date: 11/13/19

Amended Date: 10/12/2022

Effective Date: 11/13/19

Approved By: President’s Council

Signed By: President’s Council


Related Forms:

Template for Proposal for Center or Institute at TU


How to Request the Policy PDF

This online version of the policy may include updated links and names of departments. To request a PDF of the original, signed version of this policy, email the Office of the General Counsel, .