A rose is a rose, but when is a center a Center?
We have begun a process to solicit faculty input on the College's evolving policy on research centers and how the College supports such collaborative faculty endeavors.
I'll summarize the process we've set in motion, but first some context:
CONTEXT: The College strongly supports faculty collaborations, and we recognize that collaborative research centers provide important synergies across projects, sometimes even increasing the fundability of affiliated grant proposals. Faculty collaborations come in all shapes and sizes, some calling themselves "centers," some not. Several centers have an established history in the College: The Haring Center, LIFE/ISME, the Banks Center (formerly CME), CEL, and Cultivate Learning. The College has recently formalized arrangements to share with these centers some of the ICR that is generated via external grants run through each center.
Here is the big question that is emerging: As new faculty collaborations develop, how can the College support faculty synergies sustainably? How and when might a new center be considered an "established center" and become eligible for similar ICR return?
PROCESS: To address that question, we have had discussions with Janine Jones, our faculty president, and other members of the College leadership team and have asked area chairs to bring back to their areas the above question and a series of related questions for faculty discussion. Here are some of those related questions:
- How many centers should the College support, given that some center missions may overlap?
- What could be the "cost" of too many centers? To our College community? To our external constituents? To our College's budget and the "common good"?
- How should decisions about center status made? (We have developed a working definition that chairs can share.)
- What additional issues need to be considered?
After faculty have had a chance to discuss these issues within each area, we have asked that the areas' Faculty Council representatives take summaries of those discussions back to Faculty Council for deliberation there. I will then meet with Faculty Council to learn your collective thoughts.