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Guidelines for Centers and Institutes

Section Title:Administrative
Policy Number:607
Policy Name:Guidelines for Centers and Institutes
Approval Authority:President’s Cabinet
College Policy Executive:Chief Planning Officer
Responsible Executive:Provost / Vice President for Academic Affairs
Responsible Unit:Office of the Provost
Date Adopted:April 4, 2006
Date Revised:February 16, 2012; September 2013; January 2014



Present policy guidelines for the creation, operation, and review of centers and institutes that promote educational programs, training, and/or services to constituents at the college and to the community.

Reason for Policy

Set forth policy and procedure to guide the developments of centers and institutes.

To Whom Does the Policy Apply

Faculty and other distinguished scholars

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Office of the Provost
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This document presents guidelines for the creation, operation, and review of centers and institutes at Ramapo College of New Jersey. Centers or institutes contribute to the academic life of the school or the college by fostering collaboration among faculty, convening groups, and schools. They promote research activities that may not otherwise take place, and add a dimension to the research potential of their members.

Generally speaking, an institute is a research entity organized within a convening group or school whose research activities focus on a single discipline or field of study. It provides an array of services to a broadly defined off-campus as well as some on-campus populations. Services are custom designed to address the needs of the defined population. Institutes are created for an indefinite period of time, and are established as revenue generating, self-support cost centers.

A center is organized within a school or the college and promotes research activities that are multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary in nature, and may serve as an umbrella for multiple Institutes. The purpose of a center is to provide predefined services to a specific population. Centers are created for an indefinite period of time, and may or may not generate revenue. However, it is the expectation that centers, like institutes, will be self-supporting cost centers with grants and gifts as their primary source of support.

Centers or institutes at Ramapo College of New Jersey shall:

  • Have a clear intellectual focus that defines its essential program and research activities
  • Advance the scholarly mission of a convening group, school or the college
  • Conduct research in emerging fields, in areas not covered by discipline-based convening groups, or in any area that can benefit from focused study
  • Provide educational programs, training, and/or services to constituents at the college and to the community
  • Extend the visibility and reputation of the college in the public realm
  • Facilitate external relationships with other research entities and granting agencies
  • Provide opportunities for faculty and other distinguished scholars to pursue research and education that is enhanced through collaboration with others
  • Promote research activities that may not otherwise take place

Procedures for Formation of New Centers or Institutes

Application Process

A proposal must be submitted and approved through the review process described below. The application process includes the following steps:

  1. Submission of a fully developed proposal (see guidelines below). Forward proposal to ARC via Faculty Assembly for review and comment.
  2. Obtaining approvals from the various levels of review including the school’s unit council, dean, provost, the cabinet, and president, and other applicable offices such as PRC, budget and space committees
  3. Notification of acceptance or denial of the request

State or Federal Agency Grant Funded Process

For centers or institutes that will be established via a state or federal agency grant, the grant proposal may serve as the documentation requesting approval for the center or institute. The proposed principal investigator must confer with the provost regarding the planned submission of a grant proposal in advance of submission to enable approval by the provost. The provost must approve the creation of a center or institute prior to the initiation of, or acceptance of, fundraising or grants activity.

Externally Funded Institute Process

For proposed centers or institutes that will be supported by individual donors, foundations, or corporations, a written proposal must be submitted to and be approved by the provost and vice president for institutional advancement. Future fundraising plans must be reviewed by the provost, and approved by the vice president for institutional advancement.

Approval Process

The applicant will receive notification from the provost or designee regarding the status of the proposal. All proposals will be either:

  • Approved as submitted;
  • Rejected as submitted; or
  • Returned for modification and resubmission.

Submitting a Proposal

The proposal must address the following: purpose personnel, funding, advisory boards, space, strategic partnerships, and evaluation/assessment.

Purpose. This section shall address:

  1. Explain and/or describe the purpose(s) and mission
  2. Describe center or institute goals (must be stated in measurable terms where applicable) and how they will support the mission and strategic planning goals of the college and/or the relevant school
  3. Describe the population(s) to be served
  4. Discuss the proposed center or institute’s benefits to and impact on the college, the faculty, students, and/or the community
  5. Discuss the key milestone activities

Human Resources. This section shall address:

  1. Provide a job description of the person(s) responsible for the operation of the proposed center or institute (include a copy of current curriculum vitae)
  2. Describe how the background/experience of the responsible person(s) will contribute to the fulfillment of the center or institute goals
  3. Provide job description of other staff members

Budget. New centers and institutes may require start-up funding to provide the foundation necessary to support their activities. It is the expectation that the center or institute will become self-supporting within three years of operation. The director of the center or institute must obtain approval from the president, or designee, before entering into any arrangement that may bind the college. This section requires that the following tasks be completed:

  1. Prepare a start-up budget and a three-year budget with revenue projections.
  2. Describe the extent to which the center or institute will be self-supporting and contribute to the cost of overhead expenses.
  3. Describe the external/internal resources that are expected to support the proposed center or institute.
  4. Explain the expectations for school/college/foundation contributions to the budget at the time of start-up as well as budget expectations from the school/ college/foundation over the first three years, if applicable.
  5. Address the center or institute’s impact on existing programs, staffing (i.e. need for reassigned time, faculty/staff replacement funds, overtime, additional student assistance funds, etc.).
  6. Indicate key resources needed (staff, space, equipment, supplies, other) to support the center or             institute.
  7. Address the type, cost, and timeline of media needed to advertise and market the center or institute and/or its activities.

Advisory Boards. An advisory board may be created for a center or institute to:

  • Oversee whether the center or institute is operating within its mission
  • Review the center or institute’s accomplishments in light of its goals
  • Provide long-range guidance for the center or institute’s major direction and strategies
  • Contribute to and/or promote the financial viability of the center or institute

The advisory board may include qualified representatives from academic communities, professional organizations, corporations, donors, or other groups or entities of relevance to the center or institute. Prospective members of an advisory board should be discussed with the provost and the vice president for institutional advancement to ensure coordination of the college’s efforts to engage individuals appropriately. The director or a nominating committee may recommend prospective board members but may not invite or appoint new members to the board independently. Appointment to advisory boards is done by the provost in consultation with the vice president for institutional advancement and the president.

Advisory boards are expected to meet at least annually. The director, respective dean and the provost serve as an ex-officio member of the board and should attend advisory board meetings.

Appointments to advisory boards should make clear the expectations of membership, including the philanthropic expectations, if applicable. Advisory boards should have a formal mechanism for membership and term rotation to ensure continuity.

Space. This section should address what facilities will be needed for the center or institute.

Strategic Partnerships. This section should describe any existing or planned partnerships with external entities, e.g., other colleges/universities, organizations, corporations, or agencies. Show how such alliances will support the goals and objectives of the center/institute, increase quality, and enhance the college’s visibility at the local, state, and national levels. Note any group(s) that might act in a consulting capacity and the key responsible person(s). The director of the center or institute must obtain approval from the president, or designee, before entering into any arrangement that may bind the college.

Evaluation/Assessment. This section should identify specific key performance indicators that will be used to evaluate the center or institute. How will progress be assessed? What metrics/data will be used to assess goal achievement?

Approved Proposals

Copies of all approved proposals requesting funding will be provided to the vice president for administration and finance. Approved funds may be available at the start of the fiscal year. The division of Academic Affairs maintains the records for all, including meeting minutes.

Operation of Centers and Institutes

Appointment. The center or institute director may be appointed to a single year or multiple year term, with conditions of employment such as compensation, review, reappointment etc., specified in the appointment letter sent by the People Operations and Employee Resources Department. Most often the appointment is part-time.

Management of Centers and Institutes. The directors of centers and institutes are most often members of the faculty and report to the provost through a dean, or directly to the provost. The dean/provost is responsible for ensuring that the center or institute adheres to and is successful in meeting its stated mission and goals.

Job Description. The director has day-to-day administrative oversight and must provide leadership to the center or institute. His/her responsibilities may include creating goals and objectives; ensuring that the center conducts research, teaching, or related activities consistent with its mission, goals, and objectives; establishing an organizational structure for effective functioning consistent with college policies and procedures; interacting with college faculty and administrators, as well as with external constituents on behalf of the center or institute; securing resources to support the center or institute and overseeing fiscal matters and submitting financial reports as required; and ensuring that grant and donor agreements are met (as applicable).

Annual Review. Directors are reviewed annually by the dean and/or provost using the college’s evaluation processes, on the basis of the following criteria: meeting the goals and objectives of the center or institute; involving faculty and students; garnering the resources to maintain, support, and achieve prominence for the center or institute; utilizing the center or institute’s advisory board (if applicable) to enhance and expand its goals and activities; managing the center/institute effectively; the center or institute’s contribution to the visibility and stature of the college; and the center or institute’s contribution to scholarship. Other factors may be evaluated as well.

Reporting. The director shall provide an annual report of center/institute activities, achievements, progress toward goals; fiscal management; and resource projections to the dean, provost, advisory group, and any other stakeholders.

Evaluation/Assessment. After three years of operation, the center or institute shall undergo a comprehensive program review using established program review guidelines. The evaluation should, among other things, include a self-assessment and an external evaluation with recommendations designed to enhance the functioning, development, and continuing viability of the center or institute.

The program review should address and demonstrate the center or institute’s effectiveness in enhancing the academic mission of the college; meetings its goals and objectives; contributing to the visibility and stature of the college; enhancing the quality of scholarly activity, educational programs, and/or other intellectual contributions; the level and participation of faculty and students in center or institute activities; management effectiveness; financial sufficiency; and the effectiveness of the advisory board (if applicable). The director shall provide a copy of the evaluation/assessment to the provost.

After the initial program review, the center or institute shall complete reviews every three years. The administration has the right to initiate a review at any time.

For centers or institutes that currently exist, the provost shall establish a schedule of reviews.

Dissolution – Centers or institutes have defined missions that address specific teaching, research, and/or service goals. As the issues used to create the focus for the center or institute are resolved or evolve, the need for the center or institute may also change. A center or institute will exist only as long as it is deemed to be performing the function for which it was created. A center or institute may be dissolved by the provost for any of the following reasons:

  1. It ceases to accomplish its objectives,
  2. It has fulfilled its objectives,
  3. The objectives can be met more effectively in some other way, or
  4. Sufficient funding no longer exists from internal or external sources.

In the event the center or institute is terminated and it has assets, there must be a plan which describes how its assets will be distributed. Center or institute dissolutions must be approved by the cabinet and the president.

All center and institute directors are responsible for understanding and adhering to all college policies and procedures.