Review Procedures for Establishing Institutes, Centers or Similar Organizations:
Definitions and Distinctions
Centers and Institutes are organizational units on the Amherst campus created to foster activities related to research, outreach, or educational support that cannot be accommodated within existing structures. Centers and Institutes do not
serve as tenure home for faculty, nor do they award degrees or offer courses for regular University credit. They may support the educational mission, however, through activities such as workshops, seminars, training programs, internship or laboratory experiences for students, or exploration of new approaches to teaching for incorporation into regular departmental offerings. Centers and Institutes may make personnel appointments other than for tenure system faculty. All Centers and Institutes, regardless of their source of funding, shall be created, operated, changed and terminated within campus policy.
Centers and Institutes share the following characteristics: their activities are linked to the academic mission of the University and its long-range plans; their activities extend beyond the campus in some way, either through public service, funding or other resource arrangements; and their resources are sufficient to carry out their stated mission. While expenditure of campus general operating funds by Centers and Institutes is permitted, normally Centers and Institutes receive external support. Any commitment of personnel, space and other resources must have the prior and continuing approval of the appropriate chair(s), dean(s), and Vice Chancellor.
There are two exceptions on the Amherst campus that involve the use of the name Center or Institute that do not conform to the definitions described here. The first are entities called “Centers” whose purpose is to provide services to the campus community, such as day care centers or computer centers, the Center for Teaching and Faculty Development, the Fine Arts Center and the Learning Resources Center. The second involves names that have been “grandfathered” because of historical usage or permitted when required by an external agency.
An Institute is a distinct unit of substantial size that spans multiple colleges. Institutes may engage in a wide variety of research, public service, and educational support activities, typically in areas of broad concern. Institutes are frequently interdisciplinary in focus. Ordinarily Institutes on the Amherst campus report to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement or to the Provost.
The mission of an Institute is the promotion of research of some subject of broad concern and, often, the communication of this knowledge to a broader public. Clear reporting lines and structure for responsible oversight must be established and endorsed by the Deans of all colleges participating in the Institute. Institutes often occupy their own identifiable physical space.
A Center is a subordinate unit within an existing department, school, college or institute whose department head/chair, director or dean has management oversight and appointing authority. Centers should make a significant contribution to the unit of which they are a part.
Centers should be established for the purpose of concentrating research, educational support and/or outreach efforts within a clearly defined academic area. They should have an adequate concentration of talent to carry out their mission. All documents, publications and websites should clearly identify the Center as being part of the parent unit.
Scope of Campus Authority Concerning Centers and Institutes
Every Center or Institute, whether free-standing units or sub-units of schools, colleges, departments or other organizational units, and regardless of its source of funding, shall be included within the purview of the campus policy.
There are two exceptions on the Amherst campus that involve the use of the name center or institute that do not conform to the definitions above. The first are entities called "centers" whose purpose is to provide services to the campus community, including day care centers or computer centers, such as the Center for Teaching, the Fine Arts Center and the Learning Resources Center . The second involves names that have been "grandfathered" because of historical usage or permitted when required by an external agency, such as the Social and Demographic Research Institute/ SADRI, located in a department.
Creation and Approval of Centers and Institutes
Evaluation of Existing Centers and Institutes
Approval Guide Contents