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Status of Institutes and Centres

Recommendations 1 through 6 under "Implementation" and 1 through 5 under "Governance" were approved by Senate in October 2001 as proposed by the Academic Policy Committee.

Report of the Senate Academic Policy Committee on the Status of Institutes and Centres

Within the university, Institutes or Centres appear to fall, at present, into one of two categories: (1) Institutes or Centres that exist within one disciplinary Faculty, and (2) Institutes or Centres that represent an affiliation of Faculties across traditional Faculty boundaries, most often under the jurisdiction of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

This report sets out common characteristics of Institutes and Centres in Category 2, and recommends principles for their implementation, governance, review and closure. In this report the words Institute and Centre are used interchangeably. This report does not include a discussion of other frameworks such as "Laboratories" e.g. AMPEL and BIOTECH, or "Collaborations" e.g. CORD.

Institutes or Centres at a graduate level may have the following characteristics:

  1. they foster ongoing graduate programs of collaborative research and teaching of an inter-Faculty, interdisciplinary nature, and serve as incubators for nurturing such programs;
  2. they bring together a critical mass of scholars from several disciplines and areas of specialization;
  3. they may exist for an extended period of time;
  4. they offer an institutional platform from which to apply for grant support or for financial support outside of UBC;
  5. they provide a means of fostering cooperation between scholars in the same research area at other universities, institutions, community, private sector, etc.;
  6. they provide a means to sponsor and organize interdisciplinary lectures, conferences, symposia, colloquia and workshops;
  7. they attract post-doctoral fellows, visiting professors, adjunct professors and other scholars wishing to undertake interdisciplinary research at UBC.

The Senate Academic Policy Committee, therefore, recommends:

A. Implementation
  1. that proposals for inter-Faculty Institutes or Centres be initiated by a group of faculty and coordinated by the Deans of the proposing Faculties;
  2. that an Implementation Committee to develop a new Institute or Centre include those faculty members expressing interest in an affiliation to develop an inter-Faculty Institute or Centre (the proposing Faculties), and other appropriate persons recommended by the Deans of the proposing Faculties;
  3. that the Implementation Committee be chaired by a Dean of a proposing Faculty and determine an appropriate host faculty for the Institute or Centre, in many instances the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies;
  4. that a proposal for a new inter-Faculty Institute or Centre developed by an Implementation Committee be reviewed by all Faculties, and the University Librarian, for overlap with existing initiatives, and consideration of complementary versus competitive or duplicative efforts in research, teaching and community linkages;
  5. that a proposal for a new inter-Faculty Institute or Centre be approved by the Committee of Deans prior to submission to Senate;
  6. that once approved by the Committee of Deans, a proposal for a new Centre or Institute go forward to Senate for academic approval.
B. Governance
  1. that the governance of an inter-Faculty Institute or Centre be provided by a Steering-Advisory Committee of representatives from proposing Faculties, the Chair to be the Dean (or designate) of the host faculty (in many cases the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies), and include the Director and other participants as deemed appropriate;
  2. that the Steering-Advisory Committee have the following specific responsibilities: to recommend the appointment of a Director of the Institute or Centre on the advice of an appropriately constituted search committee; to provide the Dean of the host faculty and the Director with advice on the strategic direction and management of the Institute or Centre; to approve an annual report including a rolling three-year unit-based academic plan; to approve an annual budget; to consult with, and obtain the approval of, affiliated faculties on all matters pertaining to proposed teaching and/or degree programs;
  3. that for most inter-faculty Institutes or Centres at the graduate level, the Director report to the Chair of the Steering Committee, in most cases the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies;
  4. that the regular review of an Institute or Centre conform to common university practice, and provide for the closure of an Institute or Centre, when appropriate;
  5. that these recommendations come into force when a new Institute or Centre is proposed, and inform the review of an existing Institute or Centre.

The Senate Academic Policy Committee points out that adoption of the above recommendations would not prevent any Institute or Centre from becoming a Department, School or Faculty if Senate and the Board of Governors so decide.

This information is for quick reference. For the full text of the Minutes of Senate, which include the motions and discussion, please see the Minutes Archive.

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