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Policy Documents


Guidelines for the Establishment of Centers, Institutes, and Related Units

Universities commonly have a number of organizational areas outside traditional curricular structures. These areas usually are designated as centers or institutes, although other designations are used to allow faculty and staff to address specific topics or issues. UW-Eau Claire has a variety of organizations and units designated as centers. Their purposes and characteristics vary considerably, and range from "letterhead" centers that give identity to a small interdisciplinary group to larger enterprises that involve significant commitments of staffing, space and other resources. A list of all the formally recognized centers and institutes is available from the Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Graduate Studies, Office of Academic Affairs, Schofield Hall 212.

Throughout the remainder of this document the term "center" is used to designate centers, institutes, and other similar units. Units that are covered by the existing departmental review process, such as laboratories, and those covered by the existing administrative unit review process, such as the Center for International Education, the Service Center (University Centers) and the Outdoor Recreation Center (Recreation) are not covered by these guidelines. The list below details the activities common to centers. These criteria will be used when considering proposals for new centers.

  1. Centers typically are involved in the following efforts:
  2. Research and production and dissemination of scholarly information.
  3. Sponsorship of seminars or study groups that are not part of the general curriculum.
  4. Sponsorship of programs that offer students the opportunity to develop skills in an applied setting.
  5. Developing grant and contract proposals and administering grant- and contract-supported programs.
  6. Organization of services to campus or community groups.

Institutional approval of centers varies with their functions, but final UW-Eau Claire approval of all centers remains with the Chancellor who, upon approval, will notify the University of Wisconsin-System of the creation of a new center. All centers in existence at the time of the promulgation of these guidelines are exempt from submitting the documentation required for new centers with the following exceptions: they are required to submit annual reports at the end of each academic year, and they are subject to the re-approval process every five years.

The general University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire model of approval (unit director or department chair, college associate dean where appropriate, college dean or appropriate official in units other than colleges, and vice chancellor and provost) is to be followed for any center created in a department or college or by faculty and academic staff of the University. This applies to both academic departments and unit centers in colleges, or academic and non-academic divisions.

UW System approval is required for organizational departments or units identified as Centers of Excellence and when new UW System funding is sought.

Each proposal for a center or institute must contain the following information:

1. Name, Purposes and Functions

  • Identify the mission (or purpose) of the proposed center;
  • Identify the need for the proposed center;
  • Detail the specific role or functions to be performed; and
  • Explain why existing organizational structures are not deemed appropriate for the intended purpose.

2. Organizational Structure and Bylaws or Operating Procedures

  • Explain the proposed center's placement within the University's existing organizational and administrative structure;
  • Describe the proposed center's internal administrative structure; and
  • Identify and analyze any potential risks of legal liability regarding the scope of services to be provided.

3. Information on Possible Overlap and Endorsements

  • Identify any overlap between the proposed center's function or organization with other efforts or activities at the university; and
  • Provide evidence of support for the proposed center indicating that all affected departments/units are aware of plans for establishing the center.

4. Evaluation

  • Describe the evaluation process for the proposed center.

5. Support

  • Provide a budget, including funding sources; and
  • Note whether state funds, federal grants, private funding or other funding sources will be involved.

6. Administration of Grants

  • Describe the process developed to assign or share credit for extramural funding between the proposed center and the Primary Investigator's department/unit; and
  • Indicate how grants will be administered.

7. Staffing

  • Detail proposed staffing needs and demonstrate support is adequate to meet the proposed center's mission;
  • Identify key center personnel; and
  • Indicate how center participants' professional activities will be credited between the center and departments/units.

8. Space

  • Describe space and facilities required, including plans to meet those needs;
  • Identify where the proposed center's staff and activities will be housed; and
  • Indicate the cost and source of funds for any space remodeling or realignment that may be required.
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Approval of Centers

Proposals for the establishment of new centers must include the standard approval page (available from the Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Graduate Studies). The form asks for the name of the proposed center, the name of the director, and it provides spaces for required signatures following the general University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire model of approval (unit director or department chair, college associate dean where appropriate, college dean or appropriate official in units other than colleges, and vice chancellor and provost). This applies to both academic departments and unit centers in colleges, or divisions. All the above signatures, as well as that of the Vice Chancellor of Business and Student Services (who will review issues relating to facilities and resources and make recommendations to the Provost) are required prior to submission to the Provost. Proposals for the establishment of Centers of Excellence require the approval of the Chancellor before submission to UW System.

Naming Centers and Reporting Changes:

There is no clear distinction between centers and institutes or other terms noted below. The name should clearly convey the center's focus, even to those outside the field. If the name is similar to the name of another unit at the university (for example, a department), it is particularly important to have good communication regarding the purpose of the center and its name. If "Wisconsin" is to be part of the name, it is usually most appropriate to have "University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire" specifically designated.

Once a center is approved, any significant changes in the above items must obtain the approval of the unit director or department chair, college associate dean where appropriate, college dean or appropriate official in units other than colleges, and vice chancellor and provost. Reference by name to centers in letterhead, official documents, brochures, web pages, campus telephone book, business cards, etc., or use of the title "director" with regard to a center requires advance approval of the center as specified above. All publications and web sites of centers must conform to University standards.

Five Year Re-approval of Centers:

Centers covered by this policy are approved for a five-year period. The Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Graduate Studies is charged with maintaining a current list of approved centers, reviewing the annual reports of centers, and informing center directors when it is time for them to resubmit the five-year re-approval application form. As noted above, all centers in existence at the time of the promulgation of these guidelines are exempt from submitting the documentation required for new centers. They are required to submit annual reports at the end of each academic year, and they are subject to the re-approval process described in this section.


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Appendix I:

Current Terminology:

The following terms are used at UW-Eau Claire to designate programs or organizational areas with a specialized academic purpose. Please note that in some instances the terms have been assigned to areas that do not have an academic purpose but that have used the terms to reflect common usage.

Centers covered by the departmental or support review processes are not subject to the review process described in the appended guidelines. However all new centers must be approved by the general University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire model of approval (unit director or department chair, college associate dean where appropriate, college dean or appropriate official in units other than colleges, and vice chancellor and provost prior to final approval by the Chancellor).

Academic Center: Generally a programmatic effort associated with departments/units or colleges to facilitate the study and dissemination of information in a scholarly area. Frequently, the center is viewed as multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary in nature, bringing together various faculties with an interest in an area of study. An example is the Human Development Center, which involves faculty from three colleges on campus.

Service Center: A second use of the term center is to describe units or offices that deliver a service, primarily to students, or offer programs that do not lead to a degree. Examples are the Center for International Education and the Academic Advising Center.

Center of Excellence: This is a special designation created by the UW Board of Regents to identify outstanding scholarly programs throughout the UW System. This designation may be used for special areas such as centers or institutes as well as for entire academic degree programs. UW-Eau Claire has the state's only Board of Regents-designated Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Research Collaboration.

Institute: This term is generally associated with an organizational area that provides both an academic and an educational service outside the traditional degree structure. An example is the Leadership Institute (College of Business) and the Geography Institute (College of Arts and Sciences).

Clinic: This term is associated with an organizational area that provides diagnostic consultations, advice, or programming to community members based on the expertise of faculty and students. Examples include the Family Health Clinic (Nursing) and the Music Therapy Clinic (Health Professions).

Laboratory: This term is associated with an organizational structure that has faculty and student research as its primary mission. The program may offer occasional seminars but these are usually secondary to its primary purpose. The Biochemistry/Molecular Biology Laboratory (College of Arts and Sciences) is an example.

Program: This term is associated with an organizational structure associated with departments/units or colleges to facilitate the study and dissemination of information in a scholarly area or to provide services. Programs at UW-Eau Claire include Elder Care Program (Nursing), Exercise Assessment and the Exercise Prescription Program (Kinesiology).

Project: A number of activities associated with departments and/or colleges that result in the dissemination of knowledge are so named. Examples include the Hmong Health Promotion Project (Nursing) and the Wisconsin Indian History, Culture, and Tribal Sovereignty Project (Academic Affairs).


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Appendix II:

List of centers existing on September 1, 2000

  • Academic Skills Center
  • Center for American Indian Studies
  • Center for Communication Disorders
  • Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership Institute
  • Center for Rural Issues
  • Chippewa Valley Center for Economic Research and Development
  • English as a Second Language Program
  • Human Development Center
  • Learning Enhancement and Progression Clinic (LEAP)
  • Morse 2000
  • Music Therapy Clinic
  • Nursing Center for Health
  • Psychological Service Center
  • Science Institute
  • Small Business Development Center
  • Summer Institute
  • UW-Eau Claire Community Fitness Program
  • Wisconsin Indian History, Culture and Tribal Sovereignty Project
  • Wisconsin Regional Teen Institute

Appendix III:

Centers approved during the 2000-2001 Academic Year

Appendix IV:

Centers approved during the 2002-2003 Academic Year

  • UW-Eau Claire Political Research Institute (9/9/02)

Appendix V:

Centers approved during the 2003-2004 Academic Year


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