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Research Institutes & Centers

GUIDELINES & PROCEDURES IN SUPPORT OF THE “BOARD OF TRUSTEES-DESIGNATED RESEARCH INSTITUTES & CENTERS POLICY”

Effective Date: November 18, 2020

Purpose and Scope

This document delineates the guidelines and procedures for planning, establishing, reviewing, and discontinuing research institutes and centers at The University of Alabama (UA) in support of the policy titled, “Board of Trustee-Designated Research Institutes and Centers Policy” (i.e., the Policy). This document supersedes and replaces all current guidelines and procedures including those at the unit level (i.e., college, school, or institute). The development of these guidelines and procedures utilizes guidance provided by The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees (BOT), Rule 503, and best practice standards. This is a dynamic document and is subject to revision on an as needed basis.

Designation as a research institute or center signifies an organizational representation of UA’s significant programmatic research capacity. Therefore, we reserve such designations only for those institutes and centers that have complied with the Policy and guidelines and procedures. Institutes and centers that do not comply with these guidelines and procedures may not refer to themselves, directly or implied, as either a “research institute” or a “research center.”

While Board Rule 503 covers all academic, research, service, and administrative units, these guidelines and procedures herein only seek to address those institutes and centers that are designated research institutes and centers, whether they report directly to the Office for Research & Economic Development (ORED) or indirectly through the dean of a college or school. Currently recognized BOT-designated research institutes and centers are listed at the end of this document.

Oversight

There are two committees charged with the oversight of establishing and periodic review of BOT-designated institutes and centers.

Research Institutes and Centers Development Review Committee

  • The Research Institutes and Centers Development Review Committee is an ad hoc committee formed for the review of a single application. Members are appointed at the discretion of the vice president for research & economic development in consultation with the dean(s), when appropriate, and evaluate the merit of a proposal for the creation of a single BOT-designated research institute or center. Membership includes a mixture of representatives from ORED, Associate Deans for Research (ADRs), and faculty with related expertise. This committee serves in an advisory capacity to the vice president for research & economic development.

Research Institutes and Centers Evaluation Committee

  • The Research Institutes and Centers Evaluation Committee is an ORED standing committee and oversees the review of the performance and continued viability of existing research centers. Committee members are appointed on a rotational basis by the vice president for research & economic development in consultation with the dean(s), when appropriate, and include a mixture of representatives from ORED, ADRs, and faculty. Additional members may be added to this committee on an ad hoc basis due to their content expertise. This committee serves in an advisory capacity to the vice president for research & economic development and members are typically appointed for a three-year term at the discretion of the vice president.

Part A. Criteria for the Development and Approval of BOT-Designated Research Institutes and Centers

The person or team proposing the institute or center will submit to the vice president for research & economic development a written proposal that includes the information described in the Policy. It is recommended the vice president receives the proposal at least two months prior to the deadline for adding agenda items to a designated meeting date of the Board of Trustees.

The Research Institutes and Centers Development Review Committee will evaluate the request and other factors impacting the creation of the institute or center and make a recommendation to the vice president for research & economic development. The vice president will determine whether to (1) approve the request to establish and forward it to the president, who will then decide whether to forward to the chancellor and Board of Trustees for final approval, or (2) deny the request and communicate that decision to those submitting the proposal.

All proposals to establish a BOT-designated research institute or center must address the components listed in Part A of the Policy.

Purpose: A BOT-designated research institute or center must:

  1. Have a clearly defined primary purpose related to UA’s research mission.
  2. Articulate and address grand challenge(s) and provide solutions and innovations to an extent not possible in its absence.
  3. Be substantially unique to existing or future institutes and centers.
  4. Have multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary participation from core and/or affiliated faculty and describe how faculty participation is determined at establishment and over time.
  5. Articulate its goals, and provide a description of how measurement, assessment, and documentation of the achievements of the goals will be achieved.

Resources: A BOT-designated research institute or center must:

  1. Have an annual and three-year budget showing source of funds (including, but not limited to, federal, state, and private funds) and planned expenses.
  2. Have sufficient human and physical resources to achieve its state purpose at the time of development.
  3. Clearly demonstrate that it has a plan and capacity to grow and sustain its growth consistent with the expectations defined in “ORED Guidelines and Procedures for BOT-designated Research Institutes and Centers.”

Organization: A BOT-designated research institute or center must:

  1. Have an identified director (or a clear plan to identify one prior to submission to the Board) with sufficient qualifications and experience.
  2. Through a clear organizational chart, depict a clear reporting relationship to a college/school, institute director, vice president, and ORED.
  3. Provide all necessary letters of support and commitment including but not limited to the Dean(s), when appropriate.
  4. Have a structure that enables the institute or center to apply for and receive significant external funding such as grants and contracts consistent with the expectations defined in “ORED Guidelines and Procedures for BOT-designated Research Institutes and Centers.”
  5. List any internal and/or external advisory boards, its role, and all members. Such boards may not have financial, governing, or hiring authority.

Additional criteria to be considered in establishing a research institute or center:

  • “Core and/or affiliated faculty.” Ideally, the proposed institute or center should have at least 12-15 core and/or affiliated faculty from multiple departments and two or more colleges or schools.
  • “Significant external funding.” Ideally, the proposed institute or center and core and/or affiliated faculty are collectively bringing in about $3 million in external resources at the time the proposal is submitted or have the clear potential to do within two to three years.

Additional information can be included, as well as appendices. In general, proposals to establish an institute or center are 15 to 20 pages, not including any appendices.

Part B. Annual and Five-Year Critical Review of BOT-Designated Research Institutes and Centers

According to the Policy, all BOT-designated research institutes and centers must submit an annual report of progress to the UA official the institute or center director reports to (e.g., their dean) and from there to ORED. In addition, all BOT-designated research institutes and centers are subject to critical review every five years by ORED.

Annual Report

On or about June 1 of each year, ORED distributes a notice that research institute and center annual reports will be due to ORED by August 1 of that same year. If the institute or center reports through a dean or Alabama Research Institute executive director, then the report must go through that reporting channel and then to ORED. If the institute or center reports to the vice president for research & economic development, then the report is submitted directly.

The specific guidelines for preparing the annual report are included in Appendix 1.

Five-Year Critical Review of Institutes and Centers and its Director

ORED distributes a notice to the research institute or center director when their five-year critical review must be completed. The review is generally due to ORED in the same year. The Research Institutes and Centers Evaluation Committee will oversee and coordinate a five-year review of the institute or center and its director as outlined in the Policy. This review will supersede and replace all such reviews at the unit level (i.e., college, school, or institute). The committee will complete the institute or center’s review within the respective academic year. These reviews are integral to the SACSCOC reaccreditation process, and drive ORED’s investment decisions.

The principal objective of the five-year critical review is to assess whether the institute or center is satisfying the criteria for BOT-designated research institutes and centers as required in the Policy. However, the vice president for research & economic development in consultation with the dean(s), when appropriate, may ask the committee to address additional factors as well.

The specific guidelines for preparing the five-year critical review are included in Appendix 2.

Part C. Changes to and Discontinuation of BOT-Designated Research Institutes and Centers

According to the Policy, any proposed change or substantial alteration including mission, scope, and name change of an existing BOT-designated institute or center must have the support of the associated dean(s), when appropriate, and be reviewed and approved first by the vice president for research & economic development (with sufficient consultation of key stakeholders), and then by the president. ORED will provide a form and guidelines for this purpose upon request. It is recommended that proposals for such changes be received by ORED at least one month prior to the deadline for adding agenda items to a designated meeting date of the Board of Trustees.

The recommendation for the discontinuance of an institute or center may arise from either the dean with oversight of an institute or center, or the vice president for research & economic development. If this occurs by a dean’s recommendation, a formal request must be sent to the vice president. If the vice president determines, after consultation with appropriate dean(s) or other parties, that the institute or center warrants discontinuation, they will take appropriate action and ask the president to forward such recommendation to the chancellor and BOT as an information item.  


CURRENTLY RECOGNIZED BOT-DESIGNATED RESEARCH INSTITUTES & CENTERS

OFFICE FOR RESEARCH & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

  1. Alabama Cyber Institute
  2. Alabama Life Research Institute
  3. Center for Convergent Bioscience and Medicine (Alabama Life Research Institute)
  4. Alabama Transportation Institute 5-Year Review Completed 2021-2022
  5. Transportation Policy Research Center (Alabama Transportation Institute)
  6. Alabama Water Institute
  7. Global Water Security Center (Alabama Water Institute)
  8. Alabama Analytical Research Center
  9. Alabama Mobility and Power Center (Alabama Transportation Institute)

COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES

  1. Alabama Research Institute on Aging 5-Year Review 2022-2023
  2. Center for Freshwater Studies
  3. Center for Innovative Research in Autism
  4. Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies
  5. Center for Youth Development and Intervention
  6. Institute for Social Science Research 5-Year Review Completed 2021-2022

COLLEGE OF COMMUNICATION & INFORMATION SCIENCES

  1. Institute for Communication and Information Research 5-Year Review 2022-2023

COLLEGE OF COMMUNITY HEALTH SCIENCES

  1. Institute for Rural Health Research

CULVERHOUSE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

  1. Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research 5-Year Review 2022-2023
  2. Center for Business and Economic Research 5-Year Review Completed 2021-2022
  3. Institute of Data and Analytics

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

  1. Center for Interconnected Behavioral and Mental Health Systems

COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

  1. Center for Advanced Public Safety
  2. Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies
  3. Center for Complex Hydrosystems Research 5-Year Review 2022-2023
  4. Center for Sustainable Infrastructure 5-Year Review Completed 2021-2022
  5. Center for Water Quality Research 5-Year Review 2022-2023
  6. Integrative Center for Athletic and Sport Technology
  7. Manufacturing at the Point of Need Center
  8. Remote Sensing Center
  9. Center for Transportation Operations, Planning, and Safety

COLLEGE OF HUMAN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES 

  1. Child Development Research Center 5-Year Review Completed 2021-2022

COLLEGE OF NURSING

  1. Center for Substance Use Research and Related Conditions

APPENDIX 1

GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING THE ANNUAL REPORT ON RESEARCH INSTITUTES & CENTERS

  1. Summary
    • A research institute or center must meet several criteria related to purpose, resources, and organization. In no more than two pages, please explain how your institute or center currently meets the following three criteria:
    • Purpose. A BOT-designated research institute or center must articulate and address grand challenge(s) and provide solutions and innovations to an extent not possible in its absence.
    • Resources. A BOT-designated research institute or center must clearly demonstrate that it has a plan and capacity to grow and sustain its growth consistent with the expectations defined in “ORED Guidelines and Procedures for BOT-designated Research Institutes and Centers.”
    • Organization. A BOT-designated research institute or center must have a structure that enables the institute or center to apply for and receive significant external funding, such as grants and contracts, consistent with the expectations defined in “ORED Guidelines and Procedures for BOT-designated Research Institutes and Centers.”
  1. Accomplishments and Goals
    • In no more than one page, please list the top five accomplishments of the institute or center for the past year and why these accomplishments are important.
    • In no more than one page, please list the top five goals of the institute or center for the year ahead, your strategy for attaining those goals, and the expected impact of those goals.
  1. Ideas and Recommendations
    • In no more than one page, please share any ideas or recommendations ORED might consider to better serve your institute or center.
  1. Annual Report Spreadsheet
    • Complete and include the Annual Report Spreadsheet.
  1. Submit the complete report to Angie Brown at angie@ua.edu by August 1.

Downloadable Word Template for the Annual Report Spreadsheet (Opens to Box; click the “DOWNLOAD” button.)


APPENDIX 2

GUIDELINES FOR PREPARING THE FIVE-YEAR CRITICAL REVIEW OF RESEARCH INSTITUTES & CENTERS

SELF STUDY

The principal objective of the five-year review is to assess whether the institute or center is satisfying the criteria for BOT-designated research institutes and centers as required in the Policy. However, the vice president for research & economic development in consultation with the dean(s), when appropriate, may ask the committee to address additional factors as well. In particular, the following five criteria are points of primary importance for the five-year critical review.

In no more than ten pages, please address the questions listed below: 

1. How does this research institute or center articulate and address grand challenges and provide solutions and innovations to an extent not possible in its absence? 

2. How does this research institute or center involve multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary participation from core and/or affiliated faculty?

3. What are this research institute or center’s goals and were they met? Provide a description of how achievement of the goals were measured, assessed and documented.

4. How does this research institute or center clearly demonstrate that it has a plan and capacity to grow and sustain its growth consistent with the expectations defined in “ORED Guidelines & Procedures for BOT-designated Research Institutes & Centers?”  

5. How is this research institute or center structured to enable it to apply for and receive significant external funding such as grants and contracts consistent with the expectations defined in “ORED Guidelines & Procedures for BOT-designated Research Institutes & Centers?”

Please attach the Annual Reports for the last four years.

Downloadable Word Template for the Five-Year Critical Review of Research Institutes & Centers Self-Study (Opens to Box; click the “DOWNLOAD” button.)


FIVE-YEAR CRITICAL REVIEW PROCESS

STEP ONE

  • Each year, the vice president for research & economic development notifies directors of institutes or centers scheduled for five-year review in the current academic year. The vice president invites suggestions for potential faculty reviewers who do not belong to the institute or center being reviewed.
  • The vice president identifies at least three faculty members to join the standing committee and serve as the review committee for the institute or center. Reviewers predominantly include established senior and mid-level faculty and are chosen to include faculty who are not members of the institute or center under review. The vice president serves as chair of the review committee.
  • Prior to the review, the vice president meets with the committee to provide the charge, discuss the process, and answer any questions. The committee is instructed to identify a date that can be devoted to the review. ORED offers logistical support, as necessary.

STEP TWO

  • Institute or center director and staff complete the self-study (downloadable template provided on the webpage), which should take eight to ten weeks. The self-study must address the stated requirements in the Policy and ORED Guidelines. Once complete, the director submits the self-study to the vice president.
  • The committee conducts their review, which should take four to six weeks – they are encouraged to interview a broad spectrum of administrators, faculty and staff (both internal and external to the institute or center), and students, and tour the physical facilities. The committee may also request additional documentation.

STEP THREE

  • Following the review, the committee must submit its draft report to the vice president. The draft report should be concise and include strengths and weaknesses, and thoughtful and specific recommendations pertaining to the institute or center and (separately) the director. The draft report should include explicit recommendations as to whether the institute or center should be continued and also whether the director should be reappointed. The renewal or continuation of institutes and centers and reappointment of directors should not be considered automatic or the default. Institutes and centers should be demonstrably fulfilling an important need at UA, and directors should have demonstrated leadership and have broad support to continue in their roles. The vice president may meet with the committee at this point depending on the complexity of the review or issues raised by it.
  • A copy of the committee’s draft report is provided to the institute or center director and an opportunity to address and/or clarify any errors or misconceptions is given. The draft report is returned to the committee along with the director’s comments for their consideration and possible revision. If revised, the draft report is then returned to the institute or center director for their response(s). The committee finalizes their report.
  • The vice president writes a final memo describing their overall assessment. The memo, the committee’s report, and the director’s self-study are sent to the committee, the institute or center director, and the dean(s) and/or associate dean(s) for research, as appropriate.
  • Copies of all written materials pertaining to the review are provided to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

STEP FOUR

  • One year after the review, if necessary, the vice president may request a follow-up report from the institute or center director responding to the recommendations of the committee. Meetings may be held with the director, committee and/or vice president if progress is deemed insufficient or to address other concerns. Copies of any additional written materials pertaining to the review are provided to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

PDF version of the Guidelines & Procedures for Research Institutes & Centers