New process will give better oversight of ‘centres’
The proliferation of ‘centres’ on campus – otherwise known as institutes, units, organizations, networks or programs – that serve to enhance the pursuit of research, teaching, scholarly and artistic work has led to the creation of a new policy designed to provide direction for the process.
The policy was approved by the Board of Governors March 26. University Council had approved it, and set up a new committee to oversee it, earlier this year.
In its preamble, the policy states its purpose is to provide “definitions and principles for the creation, monitoring and review of centres”. Going a step further, the chair of the new standing committee on centres said the policy reflects “the interest of the University in the promotion of collaborative activities across departments and across colleges”, and in ensuring there exists “an environment in which they can survive”.
Law Professor Beth Bilson said the creation of various kinds of centres reflects the vitality of the academic community and is in line with the U of S Strategic Directions and other established priorities. “It’s something the University wants to encourage.”
She explained there are “many examples of centres ... that have come about in various ways”. At one end of the scale are well-established ones like the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives and at the other, shorter-lived ventures that are set up to take advantage of, for example, specific research funding.
The new policy divides all centres in four categories and sets out financing, management, reporting and review requirements.
In this way, the University will be able to systematize the establishment of centres to ensure they make the best use of available resources, she said, and have in place “some kind of review”.
The role of the committee will be to assess proposals for new centres by looking at business plans and management structures “to get a clear picture of what it is they’re going to do”. This review will ensure “they can demonstrate they will be able to carry out their objectives, and that they will use University resources well”.
The committee will then make recommendations about proposed new centres to Council’s Planning Committee, the start of an approval process that ends with the Board of Governors.