Authorization and Approval
Responsibility: Vice-President, Finance and Resources / Vice-President, Research / Provost and Vice-President Academic
Authorization: Board of Governors / University Council
Approval Date: Board: December 13, 2020, Council: October 15, 2020
The university encourages the establishment of centres and inter- and multi-disciplinary clusters (collaboratives) to enhance the academic interests of the university and its faculty in the pursuit of research, teaching, scholarly and artistic work, and to meet the needs of the community at large. For purposes of orderly functioning, this policy sets out definitions and principles for the creation, monitoring and review, and closure of centres and research collaboratives.
Preamble: Centres and research collaboratives are intended to strengthen, coordinate or facilitate research, scholarly and artistic work purposes or activities not readily undertaken within the university's departmental and unit structures, and are intended to offer new areas of activity consistent with the university's strategic direction and priorities. The university values the strengths and contributions of existing centres and clusters, and seeks to ensure their ongoing success.
To this end and in keeping with good governance, the university has a responsibility to establish appropriate mechanisms to give assurance of relevance and continued viability in a changing environment, and to acknowledge the high demands for accountability and transparency. The existing policy on centres, developed in 1997 and updated in 2004, has been revised to facilitate the creation of centres and interdisciplinary collaboratives, protect their integrity, and improve essential communication and accountability within the university. These objectives and terms are fully consistent with the establishment and management of similar entities at other universities in Canada and the United States.
The university recognizes creation of centres and research collaboratives as indicative of the vitality, creativity and inventiveness of the academic community, and supports such enterprise to the fullest extent possible. For the purposes of orderly functioning this policy sets out definitions and principles for the creation, monitoring and review, and closure of centres and research collaboratives. Companion guidelines to assist in streamlining the processes involved will be developed to support and assist all University of Saskatchewan centres and collaboratives.
1.0 Definition of Centres and Research Collaboratives
1.1. The university recognizes and hosts a variety of inter- and multi-disciplinary entities, variously known as centres, institutes, units, organizations, networks, groups, clusters or programs, including incorporated entities.
1.2 For purposes of this policy, a centre is a formally structured organization which is not a division, department, school or college, but which is established within or in conjunction with the University of Saskatchewan, for the pursuit or support of scholarly, artistic, scientific, or technological objectives; teaching; or outreach.
Centres may be created solely within the university, or more commonly may be the result of a partnership between the university and external organizations, including other universities, governments, industry, and public good organizations. The governance structure of these entities is constituted to safeguard principles of academic freedom and integrity, and provide clear processes for management of conflict of interest such as provided by university policies related to the responsible conduct of research . Centres report to designated Dean(s)/School Executive Director(s) (henceforth referred to as Executive Director) or an appropriate Vice-President (usually the Vice-President Research.)
1.3 In exceptional circumstances, centres may be established as incorporated and legally distinct from the university. These centres may be either a cooperative relationship involving the sharing of resources, or a landlord-tenant relationship, reflecting the academic interest of the university in the centre's activities and recognizing the university's community obligation to promote the greatest community use of its facilities and resources. These centres report through an appropriate Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President to the Board of Governors of the university.
1.4 Research collaboratives are multi-disciplinary research groups that may require institutional support. They are established to meet an emergent need, to incubate new collaborations, or provide profile to a research group. They are not at a stage where they require the formal structure of a centre. Collaboratives report directly to their Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) and may establish and dissolve in a short period of time through a college approval process.
1.5 Both entities under take activities that include, but are not necessarily limited to 1) performing disciplinary or multi-disciplinary research, teaching, scholarly or artistic activity; 2) offering new curricular and extra-curricular educational opportunities; 3) demonstrating or stimulating research, scholarly, artistic or business opportunities; and 4) providing outreach activities.
1.6 The policy on centres is not applicable to networks, platforms, laboratories or other entities known as “centres” whose role it is to support the activities of the university.
2.1 Each Centre must have a clear line of accountability to one or more Dean/Executive Director or Vice-President.
2.2 Separately incorporated centres also report through the appropriate Vice-President to the Board of Governors of the university.
2.3 Research Collaboratives report directly to their Dean(s)/Executive Director(s).
3.0 Establishment of Centres and Research Collaboratives
3.1 Guidelines for the establishment of centres and research collaboratives, including application instructions, will be set out in the Guidelines for the Establishment of Centres and Guidelines for the Research Collaboratives. These guidelines will outline the financial, governance and management requirements of centres and research collaboratives.
3.2 At the time of establishment and/or renewal centres and research collaboratives must set out targets against which success can be assessed during a review process.
3.3 The establishment of new centres requires the Planning and Priorities Committee to review applications and make a recommendation to Council for approval. In the case of centres seeking incorporation, the committee will also make a recommendation to the Board of Governors for approval.
3.4 Research collaboratives will be established through college approval process. The Dean/Executive Director will provide a recommendation to the Vice-President Research for the establishment of a research collaborative as outlined in the Guidelines for the Establishment of Research Collaboratives.
4.0 Provisional Approval of Centres
4.1 Provisional approval may be given to centres when emergent opportunities call for a quick institutional response. This fast-tracked approval process lacks the robust process normally seen with the approval of centres and will only be given for a 2-year term. Prior to the end of the 2-year term, the centre must submit a full application to receive full approval. The provisional status will remain in effect during the approval process.
4.2. Procedures for provisional approval of centres will be outlined in the Guidelines for the Establishment of Provisional Centres.
4.3 Entities granted provisional centre status are required to submit a progress report at the end of their first year. The report must detail activities undertaken and progress made on development of the centre application. A centre’s provisional status will be revoked if a report is not received.
5.1 Approval of centres should be based on, at minimum, a 5-year commitment of financial support by government, community, industry and/or the university that is appropriate to cover the direct and indirect costs associated with the centres operations.
5.2 The financial viability of a centre should not be based solely on a short-term grant or contract.
5.3 The responsible Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President of a centre should be aware of its budget plans, and in seeking additional donations the centre should be aware of and be consistent with the university's fundraising plan, coordinating fundraising needs with the university.
6.1 All university centres must have a management structure (e.g. advisory board and/or a named executive officer). The scale of the management structure will be dependent on the scope and activities of the centre and may range from a single individual to a highly structured board.
6.2 All university centres and collaboratives must adhere to university policies, procedures and guidelines including but not limited to communication, branding, intellectual property management, fund raising and research administration.
7.1 Centres and research collaboratives will provide annual reports to the responsible Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President.
7.2 The nature of the report will be determined by the responsible Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President in consultation with the Centre Director and, as appropriate, centre governance entities and will include activities and accomplishments, finances and budget/business plan for the coming year. Efforts should be undertaken to align with existing reporting practices to stakeholders and centre advisory boards.
7.3 Failure to provide the annual report for two consecutive years will result in automatic closure of the centre or research collaborative.
8.0 Terms and Renewal of Centres and Collaboratives
8.1 Research collaboratives will be established for an initial 2-year. They will report annually to the Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) on their activities, and may be renewed for additional year(s) at the Dean’s/Executive Director’s discretion.
8.2 The initial term of centre will not normally exceed five years. On the recommendation of the accountable Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President, an alternative term length or structure may be proposed to better address the business needs of the centre.
8.3 On the recommendation of the accountable Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President, centres may be renewed for one or more terms.
8.4 Reviews provide opportunities for centres to assess progress, and confirm or refine their vision, goals and activities. The responsible Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President will ensure that all centres under their purview undergo a strategic and operational review at minimum every five years. The review will be in a form appropriate to the centre activities, as determined by the Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President to whom it reports in consultation with the Centre Director and, as appropriate other centre governance entities.
8.5 Following review, the responsible Dean(s)/Executive Director(s) or Vice-President may recommend: renewal or extension of the centre’s term; changes to the scope, mandate or structure of a centre; transition of the centre to a different type of entity; or termination of the centre.
8.6 A positive review is necessary for the renewal of another term.
9.0 Strategic Planning
9.1 Each centre and research collaborative will be involved in strategic planning through the unit through which it reports.
10.0 Phase-out and Termination of Centres and Collaboratives
10.1 Closure of a centre will occur if annual reports are not submitted for two consecutive years, an unsatisfactory review takes place and efforts to address shortfalls are not-effective, a majority of centre members recommend disestablishment, or if a “provisionally-approved” centre fails to submit a centre application.
10.2 Outside of the normal renewal cycle, the university may revoke the designation of a centre or research collaborative in response to fundamental performance problems, including reporting deficiencies, financial exigencies, and non-compliance with regulations or other reasons.
10.3 Guidelines for the closure of centres will be set out in the Guidelines for the Closure of Centres and Research Collaboratives. The Guidelines will establish expectations for review and disposition of assets and liabilities including consideration of personnel, contractual obligations, and partnerships.
10.4 The decision to close a centre will be reported to Council, or as appropriate the Board, for information only.
11.0 Standing Subcommittee of the Planning and Priorities Committee on Centres
11.1 The mandate of the Standing Subcommittee on Centres is:.
· To facilitate and oversee the establishment of new centres
· To monitor adherence to the Policy
· To develop and review the Policy and Guidelines
· To oversee the disestablishment of centres
· To maintain a list of active centres
11.2 Membership on this Subcommittee will be drawn from the Planning and Priorities, and Research, Scholarly and Artistic Work, Committees of Council, the Offices of the three Vice-Presidents, centre directors, and will be supported by the University Secretary's Office. The Subcommittee will report to Council through the Planning and Priorities Committee.
12.0 Implementation and Transition
12.1 Upon approval of this policy, it will become effective immediately with respect to proposals for new centres.
12.2 Existing centres will require a transitional period to ensure they are able to meet any new requirements, including annual reports and term renewals.
13.1 Guidelines shall be developed by the Standing Subcommittee on Centres to facilitate the implementation of this Policy.
Guidelines for submission of proposals for the creation of a centre are available from the USask Governance Office.
If you have questions about this policy please contact:
Contact Person: Jacquie Thomarat, USask Governance Office