Guidelines for Institutes and Centers at Dartmouth

Policy ID

038-0006

Effective Date

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Division

Office of the Provost

Office of Primary Responsibility

Office of the Provost

Guidelines for Institutes and Centers at Dartmouth

 

Institutes and Centers serve essential academic functions at Dartmouth. They facilitate interdisciplinary research, provide unique learning opportunities for students, obtain and house specialized equipment or resources, catalyze new research directions, magnify the social impact of our work, and supplement the offerings of individual academic departments or programs.

 

These guidelines are intended to provide a framework for the thoughtful establishment, support, and oversight of Dartmouth-approved initiatives. For clarity of description, Centers will typically be based primarily within a single school, whereas Institutes will involve multiple schools. However, this distinction is sometimes overridden due to historical, funding, or other requirements, and it does not need to be strictly enforced. In some cases, other nomenclature (e.g., Initiative or Program) may be more appropriate. In this document, they will be described collectively as ICs.

 

Many of our most successful ICs are entrepreneurial in nature, adapting to needs and opportunities, both academic and financial. These guidelines are intended to encourage, rather than impede, such flexibility, to the extent compatible with Dartmouth's stewardship obligations towards its intramural and extramural funds. ICs may be launched with different forms of institutional support. Similarly, a given IC may transition among multiple funding models during its institutional lifespan and may receive corresponding (increasing or decreasing) levels of institutional support. Accordingly, requirements for review and approval of new or revised ICs are tailored to match the proposed level of institutional support at each stage. ICs must also conform to all other relevant Dartmouth policies and guidelines. Finally, it is also our intention to provide deliberate mechanisms to conclude the activities of ICs that may have achieved their goals or that no longer serve key institutional goals.

 

                                                                                                                    

Types of ICs

 

IC funding source

Description

Unfunded

Often established to highlight a collection of faculty expertise, typically to enhance scholarly visibility or to provide continuity from previous funding.

Primarily extramural

Established upon receipt of, and for the duration of, one or more extramural award(s), e.g., to fund a center for excellence or other grant-specified center.

Core intramural funding

Established to support specific scholarly or research endeavors, with core programs funded by intramural sources (e.g., via subvention, current use, or endowment resources). Intramurally funded ICs may also receive extramural funds to achieve mission, but not all core functions depend on such funds.

 

Unfunded ICs and ICs primarily funded through extramural grants:

 

Some ICs require at most a modest level of institutional support, in some cases conditioned on the receipt of particular extramural awards. For example, some ICs are designed to highlight a particular collection of faculty expertise, primarily as a means of enhancing scholarly visibility and extramural competitiveness. ICs in this category receive de minimis or no institutional support. Other ICs may receive institutional support, but such support is primarily conditional upon the receipt or submission of one or more extramural awards or applications.

 

ICs with core intramural funding:

 

Many ICs receive core programmatic funding via intramural subvention, current use, or endowment resources. Some of these ICs may also require operating support from extramural funding in order to supplement their programmatic offerings, but their receipt of core intramural funding is not conditioned on, nor coterminous with, the duration of extramural awards.

 

 

Approval Process

 

Unfunded ICs or ICs primarily funded through extramural grants

 

Given the modest investment and potentially transient character of such ICs, they are subject to lower levels of institutional scrutiny and approval. Approvals are granted only for fixed terms (see below).

 

If unfunded, i.e., receiving neither intramural nor extramural funds, written approval is required by the dean(s) of the school(s) housing any participating faculty. This approval should specify the term for which the approval is granted. Terms should not exceed five years and may be shorter. The approval process should specify any expectations for the IC and baseline criteria that will be evaluated in case a renewal is requested. The dean(s) should notify the Provost's Office, and the IC can then be included in the catalog of Dartmouth-approved ICs. Unless renewed with approval of all participating dean(s), the unfunded IC will relinquish recognition as a Dartmouth-approved IC at the end of the term specified.

 

For ICs that will be established or renewed based on the receipt of extramural funds, institutional letters of support should be obtained from the dean(s) of the school(s) whose faculty are participating. Such letters typically outline any funds available to the IC, as well as any space or other resource requirements. The provision of such letter(s) by the dean(s) shall be considered sufficient approval for the establishment or continuation of the IC, contingent upon and only for the duration of, the receipt of the proposed extramural funds. If funding is awarded, the dean(s) should notify the Provost's Office, and the IC can then be included in the catalog of Dartmouth-approved ICs. If extramural funds are not awarded or expire without prospect of renewal, separate approval will be required either as an unfunded IC (see previous paragraph) or as an IC with core intramural funding (see next section), depending on funding commitments. Without such approval, the extramurally funded IC will relinquish recognition as a Dartmouth-approved IC upon the conclusion of the grant.

 

ICs with core intramural funding:

 

Given the greater commitment of institutional resources, more stringent review procedures will apply to all ICs that receive (1) on-going core programmatic intramural funds that are not conditioned on receipt or application for specific extramural awards or (2) any amount of endowment funding dedicated specifically to the operation of the IC.[1] Such review will apply in particular to proposals for new ICs with core intramural funding, or for the transition of unfunded/grant-funded ICs to core intramural support, or for the transition of current-use/subvention-funded ICs to sustained endowment funding. If an IC proposal is being developed for potential endowment support (e.g., through a capital campaign) or at the request of a potential donor, a review, Academic Planning Council (APC) recommendation, and approval by the provost and dean(s) should be obtained prior to any institutional commitment to accept or solicit funding for the IC.[2] The requirements for obtaining approval are outlined below.

 

Proposals should be developed in close consultation with the dean(s) of any school with faculty participants, and if multiple schools or dedicated endowment funding are involved, the provost. All proposals must receive approval from the dean(s) involved, for both academic quality and financial viability (see "Budget Considerations," below). In addition, proposals involving faculty from multiple schools or any actual or proposed dedicated endowment funding must receive approval from the provost. Prior to the provost's decision, (1) the scale and sustainability of proposed funding plans should be reviewed as described under "Budget Considerations" below; and (2) the proposal must then be reviewed by the APC, which will make a non-binding recommendation to the provost. Following APC review, the provost shall review the APC recommendation and make a final decision whether or not to approve the IC. The provost's decision shall be final and will be communicated to the applicants, the dean(s) of any schools involved in the proposal, and the Office of Advancement, in case of philanthropic proposals. Any substantive revision of a philanthropic proposal shall also require APC review and provostial approval prior to the finalization of the Statement/Memorandum of Understanding. 

 

Proposals should include the following information:

  1. Academic impact:
    1. Describe the scholarly or programmatic identity of the IC and how it aligns with Dartmouth's mission.
    2. Describe the initial activities planned for the IC (e.g., education, scholarship, outreach, and/or extramural applications).
    3. Describe the opportunity for the IC to achieve academic quality and distinction, both at Dartmouth and with respect to the broader academic landscape.
    4. Identify the school(s), department(s), and program(s) that will intersect with the activities of the proposed IC.
    5. Identify any related existing ICs and explain the rationale for creating an additional IC, if closely related ICs exist.

NB: For existing ICs requesting new core programmatic funding, these items should focus on the recent history of the IC and the prospect for continued/expanded impact associated with continuing funding.

  1. Personnel: leadership (Director), faculty and staff members.
  2. Governance: describe the leadership operations and the role of any advisory bodies.
  3. Communications: describe the level(s) of visibility that the IC seeks initially and as it develops. This section should ensure that any public expectations are aligned with the scale and time-line of the IC.
  4. Institutional financial impact:
    1. Provide projected annual budget and sources of funding
    2. Outline any additional workload/expectations for existing faculty or staff members.
    3. List and justify any additional (incremental) faculty or staff positions.
    4. Describe any additional space requirements and how space is funded.
    5. Outline sources of institutional support, providing letters of support where appropriate.
    6. Approaches taken to address any concerns raised by any financial review(s).

NB: For intramurally funded ICs that request new endowment funding, any request to retain existing subvention or current-use support must be rigorously justified.

  1. Review:
    1. How long is the IC expected to operate?
    2. Describe the evaluation process, including the frequency of review. For ICs that do not receive endowment funding, review and re-approval
    3. What are the criteria for success or for a decision to discontinue?
    4. What is the "exit strategy" if the funding or need should end?

 

In formulating its recommendation, the APC should consider in particular the academic quality and rigor of the proposed IC; the opportunity that it represents to enhance Dartmouth's reputation and address programmatic needs; the probability of attracting extramural and/or philanthropic support (if needed); whether funding and personnel are on a scale commensurate with its aspirations; and whether the operating plans are well designed. Other factors may be considered at the discretion of the APC. 

 

Note: The dean(s) or provost may specify an alternative format of the proposal, and in particular, may request additional or alternative information. If such changes are deemed appropriate, the format should be outlined to the applicants in advance.

 

Note: Transient, experimental ICs that receive core institutional support for an initial term of no more than two years may be approved through the process described above for unfunded/extramural ICs. The dean or provost may exercise discretion to extend the approval on a year-to-year basis, up to a maximum total term of five years. Formal approval as an intramurally funded IC must be obtained by the end of the initial period, and in all cases before the end of five years.

 

Note: Unless requested by the dean(s) or provost, existing Dartmouth-approved ICs will not be required to seek re-approval, but will instead be scheduled for periodic review (see next section).

 

 

Periodic Review; Sunset

All ICs should undergo periodic review. At least one year in advance of the review deadline, the Director will prepare a progress report and renewal proposal that outlines progress and contributions over the review period, summarizes total amounts of intramural and extramural support received, and outlines a strategic plan for the IC for the upcoming review period. The form of the proposal is flexible, but the text should address the key elements laid out above for new proposals. More frequent summaries may be required for reporting purposes.

  • Approvals for unfunded or primarily extramural ICs may only be granted for a fixed term, not to exceed five years or the term of the associated extramural award(s), whichever is shorter. The dean(s) or provost at their discretion may require that the IC undergo an external review as a condition of renewal. Upon renewal, the dean(s) should notify the Provost's Office. If the dean(s) decides not to renew an IC within their school or if the provost decides not to renew a multi-school IC, that decision will be final.
  • Approvals for ICs receiving on-going intramural funding for core programmatic activities may be for an indefinite term. However, the dean(s) or provost must ensure that the program undergoes an external review process at least every 10 years, on a schedule to be determined by their offices. Existing ICs will be included in the review schedule. Upon successful conclusion of the review, the dean(s) should notify the Provost's Office. For ICs supported by restricted endowment funds, if systemic problems are identified by the review, they should be resolved in consultation with the provost's office and the VP for Advancement and in conformity with underlying terms of the gift(s). For ICs supported by current-use or subvention funds, if systemic problems are identified by the review, the IC will be subject to reapproval according to the procedures outlined above for a new IC with core intramural funding, including approval of the dean(s), APC review, and approval of the provost. If reapproval is not granted, the IC will relinquish recognition as a Dartmouth-approved IC and will lose access to institutional resources.
  • External review panels should typically include membership that has held academic or related outside leadership role(s), but is not affiliated closely with the academic area of the IC. Such members may be recruited from a School's Board of Advisors or the Board of Trustees, or from other institutions. Their specific charge is to evaluate the uniqueness and impact of the IC at Dartmouth and within the broader academic landscape.
  • The dean(s) or provost may, at their discretion, bring forward the review process for an IC.
  • If following review a decision is made to end the approval of an IC, a plan should be developed to manage communications with stakeholders, including students, staff, faculty, the broader academic community, and alumni, as appropriate.

 

 

Budget Considerations

Historically, ICs have developed a wide variety of funding mechanisms. Dartmouth encourages the entrepreneurial spirit of its faculty not only in terms of scholarly and company activities, but also in terms of establishing new fora for research and creative endeavors. In pursuing such activities, the following principles must be observed:

  1. For those ICs supported by Dartmouth subvention or current-use resources, the amount and duration of subvention must be negotiated prior to approval with the relevant dean(s) and must be reviewed by their respective financial offices. If provostial or other central resources are involved, the provost's approval is also required, and should entail financial review, in conjunction with the Office of Advancement, in cases where philanthropic support is anticipated. Financial reviews should consider both the appropriateness of the business plan for the IC and whether the scale of funded activities is sufficient to support the academic activities proposed.
  2. If an IC transitions from subvention or current-use funding to endowment support, the primary purpose of the transition is to provide long-term funding stability. The disposition of any resulting "offset" to subvention or current-use funding will be at the discretion of the unit(s) that provided them, according to their needs and priorities. ICs should not assume that they will retain duplicate funding, except with the explicit, written approval of unit leadership.
  3. In general, Facilities and Administration (F&A) recoveries associated with extramural awards should be allocated according to standard institutional rules for F&A allocation, which are designed to reimburse the unit(s) incurring the actual costs, e.g., for space, operations, and administrative support, including central functions. Any deviation from standard allocation rules requires the written approval of the leader(s) of the unit(s) supporting the work; in general, approval must be obtained in advance of the grant submission.

 

Effectiveness, Amendments and Dispute Resolution

These Guidelines are effective as of July 1, 2021 and replace the Guidelines for Centers, Institutes, and Initiatives prepared in 2006.  These Guidelines may be revoked or amended by Dartmouth, in whole or in part, from time to time, via the Provost (or designee), who is authorized to make revocations or amendments on behalf of Dartmouth.  Any such revocation or amendment shall become effective upon adoption by the Provost or designee, or as of such other time as such person shall specify and will be reflected in the current version of the Guidelines.  Questions or disputes regarding the application, interpretation or implementation of these Guidelines shall be resolved by the Provost or designee; the decision of such person on the matter shall be binding on Dartmouth and all individuals subject to these Guidelines.

 

[1] NB: ancillary/indirect endowment support (e.g., through an endowed chair that is already held by the faculty member leading the IC, space or O&M cost recovery) does not constitute funding dedicated specifically to the IC.

[2] The review and approval of a philanthropically supported IC shall follow the procedures for approval of an IC receiving dedicated endowment funding. This process should occur as early as possible and must be concluded before any SOU is accepted.