News & Correspondence
Application & Review Process FAQs
Questions & Comments:
By developing this process, we can better work across a wide range of potential organizational units. This will help develop our interdisciplinary abilities while also stimulating creativity by promoting interactions across boundaries.
The idea to address the proliferation of institutes, centers, special programs and the unevenness of their performance over time emerged during the University’s most recent Request for Innovations (RFI) Process, which involved faculty, staff and administrators. The process for how to address the issue is one of the outputs of the eight comprehensive strategies initiated last year by President Nellis.
At the request of President Nellis, a group of faculty, administrators, and staff worked on the initiative entitled, “Growing Research and Scholarship by Instituting Institutes, Centers and Core Facilities.” The group’s ideas were submitted to Provost’s Council for review and improvement, enhanced by the provost and executive vice president, and the vice president for research and economic development and with final review by the president.
Level I, II, and III entities provide an organizational vehicle to facilitate such boundary crossing efforts. These large-scale complex projects involve more risk and require careful oversight and attention to fiscal management. Likewise, it is essential for us as an institution to understand the level and kind of progress being made by an entity.
The requirement for entities to produce an annual report addressing their progress and performance provides the University community with essential information upon which to base decisions. Additionally, it provides a formal mechanism for new and creative ideas to come forward for consideration, and once approved, gain support and recognition.
Academic programs that become involved in the scholarly activity of an entity have the potential to gain, since research, outreach and engagement opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students are an expected part of an entity’s activities. Colleges will benefit if appropriate financial planning is done from the onset, which insures faculty time invested in an entity is covered by sponsored projects, thus freeing state supported salaries that can be used for other purposes such as hosting visiting scholars, providing for postdoctoral fellows to engage in a wider spectrum of academic activities, etc.
Additionally, by having full and part-time directors of institutes, centers, etc., the potential to attract funding and build strong stakeholder relationships will be increased.
Not necessarily. An academic degree program alone does not qualify for Level I, II or III entity status. A degree program alone would reside within the existing Academic Affairs structure. It is expected however that there be a coupling of academic programs and the scholarly work of entities. In some instances it may make sense that an interdisciplinary degree be with a Level II or Level III entity. If this is the case, the deans that comprise the advisory board of the entity would also be responsible for oversight administration of the degree program(s).
All relevant existing advisory boards are being notified of this process and encouraged to participate. Input from stakeholders concerning what kind of entities might be useful to them can be an important consideration in developing a proposal. During the process for establishing and evaluating entities there are places where input and support from stakeholders will be necessary to add strength to a proposed entity. In fact, the strategic business plan requires proposed entities to develop advisory boards and regularly engage them.
It depends on what aspect of the process (establishment, sun setting, and operations) is being considered. Generally, the person or persons to whom the entity reports has oversight authority. This differs by entity level and depends somewhat on the how the entity was established. If it is a Level III entity, a vice president has administrative oversight and responsibility. If more than one college is involved in a Level I or II category entity then a team of deans is involved. If an entity has a director (FTE) then that individual will have larger responsibility and stake in the decision-making. If there is an equal amount of external and internal investment then an external advisory board will be a key provider of input. Ultimately, decision-authority is part of what organizers of an entity get to propose and justify in their strategic plan.
Funding may change. Some current institutes and centers may lose funding, but some may gain additional funding. It is important for the University to focus resources in select areas of strength. Through this process, we are inviting current entities as well as new teams to put forward their most innovative proposals. Those plans will be evaluated and the best ideas selected to move forward. Current entities have three possible outcomes: change of classification, remaining where they are or being phased out. Depending on the action, this could result in a decrease or increase in funding.
This question cannot be answered without better understanding the reasons for the loss. The key is accountability. It’s understood that some creative activities may take several years to realize a positive return. However, in most cases, an entity that loses money will be required to undergo an immediate review to understand the causes for the loss. This review could result in a closure but could also result in changes in the entity’s director, structure or business plan. All proposed entities are required to develop a strategic business plan that will help to mitigate the possibility of a sudden loss of funding.
No. Institutes may be divided into subunits with leaders for each division or subunit if this makes sense. However, these subunits cannot be centers.
Yes, provided the recharge or cost center (organizational units or activities that provide goods and services primarily to internal university operations and secondarily to external users, and charge the users for these services) is relevant to attaining the mission and vision of the institute or center.
An annual report and review by boards and/or department heads, dean(s) and vice president(s) will be required for all entities, regardless of level. The purpose is to demonstrate achievement of goals and movement toward the vision laid out in the strategic plan. These annual reports provide a mechanism for documenting assessment of research and outreach programs as well as providing feedback to the entity. They also can be used to demonstrate success and leverage additional investment capital.
It is not of the intent of this process to destroy or harm successful endeavors. Rather, it is a chance to evaluate existing entities and structure them in such a way that projects and endeavors have the greatest chance for success. At the same time it is the chance for new ideas to become more visible and begin to receive the recognition that they deserve rather than be in the shadow of less vibrant but existing entities. A process like this is always going to create some feelings of dissatisfaction and criticism within some sector of the external community. The intent is to mitigate these issues by following a fair and open process.
Yes, this process is designed so that as new ideas emerge on and off campus a group of interested persons can go through a standard process and have their idea/concept considered by the University leadership.
Programs that are funded either by statute or as separate line-item allocations are exempt from this process. These include the Idaho Geological Survey, WWAMI, all of the Research and Extension Centers, the Forest Utilization Research Program and the Washington – Idaho Regional Veterinary Medical Education Program.