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Regulations and Policies

Regulations & Policies

Academic Affairs - Research and Sponsored Programs


Institutes and centers are defined in the Florida State University System Board of Governors Regulation 10.015 as entities established to coordinate intra- and inter-institutional research, service, and/or educational/training activities that enhance existing research, service, and instruction at the universities. This BOG Regulation 10.015 is incorporated by reference as part of this policy, which complies with the regulation by instituting policies for “establishing, operating, evaluating, reviewing, and disbanding university institutes and centers.”

II. Definitions

State of Florida Institute or Center: An entity with statewide mission, that may include two or more State universities, established to coordinate inter-institutional research, service, and teaching across the State University System. State of Florida institutes and centers must be approved by the Board of Governors. State of Florida institutes and centers’ operational budgets reside within the bases of their host institutions; additional budget requests must be reviewed by the CAVP, and only those with a positive recommendation are carried forward to the Board of Governors for consideration (BOG Regulation 10.015(2)(a)).

University Institute or Center: An entity that is generally established by a single university to coordinate research, service, and/or educational/training activities that enhance existing instruction, research, and service at the universities. This includes Centers of Excellence that were established by the Florida Legislature. The budget of a university institute or center and any requests for additional funding are wholly within the purview of the host university (BOG Regulation 10.015(2)(b)).

UNF Institute: A university institute at UNF that is established to coordinate inter- or trans-disciplinary research, service, and/or educational/training activities that cross college boundaries. UNF institutes are organized under Academic & Student Affairs and report to the Provost or designee. They also have compliance and reporting requirements that are overseen by the Associate Provost of Faculty & Research (APFR).

UNF Center: A university center at UNF that is established to coordinate research, service, and/or educational/training activities within a college. A center may focus on one discipline, but the activities supplement and may not duplicate those typically housed within departments. UNF centers are typically organized under a college and report to the dean or designee. They also have compliance and reporting requirements that are overseen by the APFR.

Exclusions: As per BOG Regulation 10.015(2)(c), there are entities that use the term “Institute” or “Center” in their titles, as well as service units with similar functions (e.g., “Laboratories” and “Facilities”), that are excluded from this policy. Examples at UNF include administrative offices and academic units that are not officially recognized as university centers and are not required to follow this policy or BOG Regulation 10.015.


UNF centers and UNF institutes (hereafter, “centers”) are academic units that enhance and expand upon the activities of traditional academic departments, schools, and colleges. They should not duplicate the functions of those units, except insofar as they are established to coordinate research, instruction, and/or service that cross academic disciplines and cannot effectively be managed within the traditional academic units. They are expected to be financially independent, with funding from a combination of contracts, grants, philanthropy, membership revenue, and internal sources as appropriate to their activities and placement within UNF’s administrative structure.

Center Organization 

UNF centers are required to have a director or co-directors who are formerly appointed by the academic administrator under whom the center is organized, although the recommendation of the director(s) also may be guided by a center’s by-laws. Directors should have effort assigned as part of their annual workload and as appropriate to the center’s activities. The director(s) shall be responsible for the day-to-day management of the center and for the leadership of the center. It shall be the director’s responsibility to ensure that the center meets its defined goals, objectives, and mission; to interact with faculty, students, staff, university administrators, and external constituents on behalf of the center; to comply with the terms of all center agreements, contracts, and grants; and to submit all reports as required.

Director(s) are also required to establish an advisory board with a defined membership of internal and/or external advisors who have limited terms and meet regularly with the director(s). Advisory boards make recommendations to the director(s) on programmatic direction. An advisory board may establish by-laws for a center, but does not have the authority to make hiring offers to directors or other staff, or to access, use, or otherwise control funds associated with the center.

Additional organizational structure and the process for changing it are specified as part of the application for establishing a UNF center and can also be established through a center’s by-laws.

Faculty Affiliations

UNF centers are expected to have the involvement of faculty beyond the director(s), either through (1) advisory board membership, a (2) faculty fellows program or the equivalent, and/or (3) formal joint appointments of tenure-track faculty.

Faculty advisory group members support the center by helping to guide mission, advise on activities, assist in strategic planning, etc., while faculty fellows are directly involved in the performance of the center’s activities. In both cases, formal appointments are expected but the effort is part of a faculty member’s normal assignment for research, teaching, and/or service.

Joint appointments of tenure-track faculty to UNF centers have their salaries and benefits partially paid by the center. Their primary appointment is in a tenure-granting academic unit, such as a school or department, and they must have a terminal degree appropriate to their discipline. A joint appointment is established via a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that specifies the proportional effort expected to be dedicated by the faculty member to the academic unit and the center, and details the activities that are expected to be performed for each distinct entity. Each MOU will specify a duration and conditions for renewal and termination.

Additional non-tenure faculty appointments fully dedicated to a UNF center, such as postdoctoral researchers or research scientists, can also be funded entirely through non-recurring funds (e.g., contracts or grants).

Classified and non-classified staff may be assigned to a UNF center. Any staff position supported completely or partially by soft funds (e.g., a research grant) is dependent on the availability of those funds. Each staff member must receive an annual evaluation from the director(s) or other appropriate center supervisor.

Students and Degree Programs 

UNF centers are encouraged to include support for undergraduate and graduate students as appropriate to their mission. Centers also may be involved in providing interdisciplinary course work, offering service-learning opportunities, and supporting certificate and degree programs.

Centers may engage in providing coursework and may offer minors and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate levels following the same review and approval process required for all academic units. However, UNF centers may offer degree programs only in partnership with traditional academic units through a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which program details such as staffing and scheduling courses and the provision of academic support services such as advising are delineated. The MOU must be reviewed and approved by Academic & Student Affairs prior to the submission of a degree or certificate program proposal for review by the Faculty Association. Typically, a degree or certificate program offered through a center will be interdisciplinary but draw extensively upon courses in various disciplines/departments that are already in existence.

Establishing University Centers 

The establishment of a UNF center demands careful planning and a clear justification for the institutional resources to be allocated to the university center. Therefore, a request for the establishment of a center will include the following information:

  • The name of the proposed center.
  • The specific mission, goals, and objectives of the center, indicating how these will contribute to the achievement of excellence, focus, relevance, and accountability at the university.
  • The name and qualifications of the proposed director(s), the administrative structure, the composition of the proposed internal and/or external advisory boards.
  • A three-year activity plan including budget estimates for the first year of operation, projections for the following two years, and the expected source of funding.
  • Immediate and future space needs, and how those will be met.
  • A statement of capital equipment needs, where applicable, and how those will be met.
  • The relationship of the center with existing academic units and the potential impact, if any, on these units.
  • Identification of the learning opportunities that the center will offer to students at the undergraduate and/or graduate level.
  • Conditions that should trigger the termination of the center.

All applications for the establishment of an intra-college center must first be reviewed and endorsed by the dean of the college. Subsequently, the application will be forwarded to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, who will review it, and if approved, will forward it to the President for final institutional approval. No UNF center shall commence activities without final authorization from the President.

After the final institutional approval, the APFR shall provide the basic descriptive, contact, and fiscal information to the Florida Board of Governors as required in BOG regulation 10.015.

Funding Center Operations 

A significant portion of the funding of a UNF center must be derived from external sources. While initial funding may be provided internally, a viable center is one that has the potential to attract all operational funds from external sources. The center leadership is expected to work closely with the staffs of the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs and University Development & Alumni Engagement to access funding from local, state, regional, federal, and private sources for the operation of the center.

UNF centers are responsible for the expenditure of funding that they receive. The university, however, will handle the proposal submission and administration of all grants and contracts as required by applicable university policies, regulations, and procedures.

Returns of recovered F&A costs from grants held by centers will be distributed in accordance with the procedures established through UNF policy 2.0030P.

Annual Reports and Periodic Reviews 

Each UNF center is required to submit a fiscal year report both to the unit under which it is organized as well as to the APFR. As required by BOG Regulation 10.015, prior fiscal year expenditures are reported using the template provided by the BOG office.

The fiscal year expenditure report should be accompanied by a brief report of activities, including information on the following topics, as applicable:

  • Faculty, staff, and student personnel involved in activities
  • Activities such as invited scholars/lectures, conferences. symposia, etc.
  • Research and creative activities performed and disseminated
  • Curricular activities, enrollments, and degrees awarded
  • Community-engaged activities
  • Grants and contracts proposed, submitted, and received
  • Impact of activities on the academic programs of the university
  • Future plans
  • Problems to be addressed
  • Other information deemed appropriate

In addition to an annual fiscal year report, BOG Regulation 10.015 requires periodic review of each university center a minimum of once every seven years. The President and Provost also have the authority to require a periodic review at any time.

At a minimum, periodic reviews shall include the following components:

  • A determination of the center’s progress against defined goals and objectives within the context of the center’s mission, the university mission, and the current Board of Governor’s Strategic Plan;
  • An assessment of the return on investment of State dollars, if applicable;
  • The need for continuation of the center;
  • Possible changes in mission or organizational structure;
  • Budget reduction or expansion; and
  • Recommendations for status change (active, inactive, terminated), if applicable.

In the Fall semester of each academic year, the APFR will notify the director(s) of each center, as well as the appropriate chair(s) and dean(s) with responsibility for the center, that are due for a periodic review during the upcoming calendar year. The center director(s) will be required to submit a center self-study during the Spring semester to department and/or college leadership, as appropriate, as well as to the APFR. The self-study will follow guidelines provided to the center director(s) that minimally address the requirements of the BOG regulation listed above.

After the self-study is complete, the AFPR will consult with the center leadership, the cognizant dean(s), and the Provost as to the value of bringing in an external reviewer or reviewers to evaluate the center, and if this option is selected, to identify prospective reviewers. If needed, the external review will occur no later than the Fall semester.

Upon completion of the review process, the AFPR meets with all parties involved to discuss the results and to determine what changes, if any, should be implemented for the center.

As per the requirements of BOG Regulation 10.015, upon completion of the review process, the university must provide a summary of the review to the university Board of Trustees who will certify that the review contained all required components listed above. A copy of the summary must be submitted to the BOG office within 30 days after the BOT review and certification.

Disbanding a University Center 

A center shall cease to exist on the date that the President decides that it should disband. The Provost will send a notice regarding the President’s decision to the director, the  APFR, dean(s), and chair(s). All facilities and equipment allocated to the center will revert to the units that provided them. Facilities and equipment acquired by an inter-college center will come under the purview of the APFR , who will distribute them, in consultation with the deans of the participating colleges, for research purposes to other units in the university.

In compliance with BOG Regulation 10.015, the President or his designee shall notify the Florida Board of Governors’ Office of Academic and Student Affairs of the disbanding of the center. If the center had been funded by the Legislature, the university will provide documentation to ensure that Legislative intent has been achieved and that the ucenter is no longer needed. In addition, the university will provide fiscal information, as part of its annual report if the center had expended any funds during the fiscal year.

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