Forming Interdisciplinary Research Centers

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Academic, discipline-based research is key to the university's mission. Interdisciplinary research centers expand on that mission by addressing social issues and new learning from multiple perspectives. 

UB's interdisciplinary research centers are usually created through faculty interest or in response to external funding opportunities. Designed to focus on specific challenges, these centers generally cease activities when the objectives are met.

Policies for creating new interdisciplinary centers

This OVPRED policy guides UB interdisciplinary research centers that a) plan to receive university support; b) whose members span at least two schools; and, c) have research as their primary mission. Centers and institutes that report to the Provost are excluded from this policy. 

Approval Process for Funding by the OVPRED

The Vice President for Research and Economic Development (VPRED) will review proposals for funding UB research centers on advice from the deans, UB faculty and other experts. The VPRED may approve the funding of the centers or recommend changes in the name, scope or other aspects of the proposed centers. The proposal will contain information about the organization, administration and governance structure and include:

  • Executive summary
  • Mission statement
  • Background — including existing efforts and faculty involved
  • Description of proposed program
  • Potential for revenue generation (e.g., training grants, clinical/service income, private and corporate donations, etc.)
  • Resources available/pending (space, equipment, administrative support, cash)
  • Requested funds
  • Budget/resource justification for years 1-3
  • Strategic plan/timeline
  • Goals and benchmark for progress
  • Statements of support from relevant department head and deans

New UB research centers will be initially funded for a three-year period. Centers will be assigned a designated administrator (e.g., dean, associate dean for research or senior member of OVPRED staff) responsible for allocating resources to the center and ensuring its success. Annual reviews of new UB research centers are conducted by a designated administrator (e.g., dean, associate dean for research or senior OVPRED staff member). This individual is responsible for allocating resources to the research center and making sure that it's generating sufficient external funding to become self-supporting. The designated administrator will then provide a written evaluation to the center director and vice president for research and economic development. While funding to new centers is limited to three years of initial support, in rare cases it may be extended when centers can demonstrate significant growth in obtaining their external funding.

Operating a funded research center

Once a UB research center is approved for funding, the operating guidelines outlined in the proposal should be approved by the center members and the designated administrator. The guidelines should include:

  • Rules of internal governance
  • Membership criteria
  • Identification of an external advisory group

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development will then allocate resources to the center director for support of its research programs.

Request for continuing support

UB, like other universities, has limited resources, which means there are difficult decisions when choosing which centers to fund. Moreover, centers are not intended to have an indefinite institutional life. Existing and newly designated UB centers ("ORU's") will be reviewed in terms of ongoing funding.

The review will consist of two phases. Phase I will involve a review of a written status report submitted by the center director. The status report should contain the following information:

  • Mission statement
  • Background — including existing efforts and faculty involved
  • External funding record and planned funding proposals
  • Current resources used (space, equipment, administrative support, cash)
  • Goals and benchmarks for future progress
  • Internal funds requested for next fiscal year

This document will be reviewed by ad hoc advisers contacted by the VPRED. In Phase II the center director and participating faculty will make an oral presentation highlighting their missions, goals, external funding and progress. The VP for Research and Economic Development will submit a written evaluation of the center to the center's director. It will include a recommendation to continue or phase-out funding for the center. The final decision will be made jointly by the involved deans, the VP for Research and Economic Development and the provost.