Guidelines on Centers

The following document was developed through the Office of Research and the Provost’s office – July 2022.


A Cleveland State University Research Center is an organizational unit within the University that is formed to:
   (1) promote research,
   (2) take advantage of funding initiatives and opportunities,
   (3) target audiences external to the University,
   (4) foster interdisciplinary studies, projects or initiatives, or
   (5) engage in public service or community outreach.
Research Centers often are created based on external funding opportunities or interests of faculty, senior research staff, or professional staff. Research Centers should encourage participation by graduate and undergraduate students and offer opportunities for internships.

Centers do not admit students, or confer degrees, or offer courses separately from academic departments (but can promote and endorse continued education courses developed in conjunction with the Division of Continuing and Extended Education).


Although there may be a great diversity among Research Centers, they can be grouped into two types: “Research Centers” are supervised at the department and/or college level. “Strategic Research Centers” (or SRCs) are supervised by CSU’s Office of Research and serve a strategic university priority.

Research Centers may develop their own guidelines for Center membership, provided guidelines do not contradict these CSU Guidelines on Research Centers and other CSU policies.

Research Centers (Department/School, College, and Multi-College Research Centers)

A Department/School, College, or Multi-College Research Center provides identity to a single investigator or a group of investigators within a department or school, among multiple departments/schools within a single college, or across multiple colleges, and is overseen by the members’ respective department Chairs/school Directors and college Deans. Formation and operation of these Research Centers may take place for the following purposes (i) fund raising (grants, foundation or private donations), (ii) program recognition by constituencies served, (iii) attraction of other faculty collaborators. The governance structure, support, and appointment of the Director of these Research Centers must be approved by all of the pertinent Chairs/Directors and Deans. Office of Research approval to use a particular Center name is required, in order to avoid duplication of names that could lead to confusion internally or externally.

Strategic Research Centers (SRCs)

A Strategic Research Center is authorized by the President and Provost to advance research, education, or engagement initiatives that are aligned with University strategic priorities. Strategic Research Centers receive resources from CSU’s central administration to support meeting CSU strategic priorities.

The governance structure of a Strategic Research Center must be approved by the Vice President for Research (VPR), and the Provost. Strategic Research Centers report to the Associate VPR (AVPR). The Director of a Strategic Research Center could be (1) elected by Center Members and approved by the Provost and Vice President for Research or (2) appointed by the Provost.

Faculty membership in Research Centers must be approved by the appropriate Chairs and Deans.

The reporting of the Strategic Research Centers to the AVPR and faculty membership in these Centers does not give the AVPR, VPR or Center Director influence over faculty workload or their other obligations to the University. For example, while a Strategic Research Center’s funds can be used for course release for Center members, the course release must be negotiated and approved by Chairs and Deans first.

PROPOSAL FOR Establishing Centers
Department/School, College, and Multi-College Centers

A document will be prepared to describe the purpose and goals of the Center; it includes information on governance structure, faculty biographies, funding sources for the Center and any requests for resources, as appropriate, the selection processes for student internships, and participation by undergraduate and graduate students. Proposals are approved by the appropriate Chairs/Directors and Deans, as necessary.

Strategic Research Centers

New and existing Department/School, College, or Multi-College Research Center can apply for consideration for designation as a Strategic Research Center by submitting a proposal to the VPR. The proposal must describe the mission of the proposed Strategic Research Center and a rationale for its designation as a Strategic Research Center; it must provide an explanation of how the center’s activities and services are uniquely necessary to meet the University’s strategic objectives. The proposal must also include detailed information on organization, administration and governance structures and budgets.  If applicable the proposal must include the description of involvement by undergraduate and graduate students.

In addition to the above, an existing Department/School, College, or Multi-College Research Center needs to include in the proposal (1) current organizational structure and participants; (2) a brief history on research productivity/evidence of excellence; (3) a concise budget history, a current budget, and budget projections.

The AVPR and VPR will review the proposal, and may enlist an external review team of distinguished scholars in the Center’s field of expertise. Ultimate authority for conferring Strategic Research Center designation resides with the President and Provost.

Center Support

Centers receiving any institutional investment (from departments/schools, colleges, or central administration, or through the sharing of indirect cost (IDC) recovery, are subject to the most thorough review for establishment and continuation.

Strategic Research Centers receive resources from CSU’s central administration. The support may include but is not limited to: (1) permanent budget; (2) administrative support; (3) IDC redistribution.

Department/School, College, and Multi-College Centers

All Centers shall be reviewed every 3 years. The Center Director shall submit a report -- detailing the Center's activities, achievements, challenges, and financial arrangements over the three-year review period and future plans--to their immediate supervisor (department Chair/school Director, or Dean(s)). At the end of each review period, a Center shall be closed unless a continuation is approved. If a decision is made to not continue a Center, the Center Director may appeal the decision (to the Dean if the decision to close the Center is made by a department Chair/School Director; to the Provost if the decision to close the Center is made by a Dean); when Centers are joint ventures of two or more colleges, the Deans shall collaborate in arriving at a decision. Centers must also update information annually in the University's database of centers and institutes by submitting the information to the AVPR.

Strategic Research Center

Strategic Research Centers are expected to generate a return on the University’s resource investment in terms of scholarship and/or research productivity. It is expected that, in addition to strategic goals, Strategic Research Centers will develop their own performance metrics and annual milestones. The Strategic Research Center directors will meet regularly (no less than quarterly) with the AVPR in regards to the Center’s operation, its ongoing contribution to CSU’s strategic goals, and opportunities for future growth and development. The review process for a Strategic Research Center includes preparation of an annual self-study by the Director, which is reviewed by the AVPR to determine whether previously approved milestones had been achieved. New milestones will be developed and agreed during the review process.

Continuation of support by CSU will depend on satisfactory performance of the Center, CSU’s current strategic priorities, and the availability of funds. Only the Provost and President have the authority to remove designation as a Strategic Research Center. A Center that loses its designation as a Strategic Research Center can continue to operate as a Research Center without resources from central administration.



The Provost approves the creation and plans of Strategic Research Centers; appoints or confirms Directors of Strategic Research Centers; and approves continuance of Strategic Research Centers.


The VPR approves Strategic Research Center proposals, as needed and confirms on continuance of Strategic Research Centers and advises the Provost on continuance as appropriate.


The AVPR reviews Strategic Research Center proposals, annual performance reports, discusses and approves performance milestones, meets with Directors of the Centers and advises the VPR on continuance of Strategic Research Centers as appropriate.


Deans review and approve plans of all Research Centers involving faculty from that Dean’s college; approve the creation of Department/School, College, and Multi-College Research Centers. For Centers that report directly to the Dean, the Dean oversees the activity of Research Centers and approves operating guidelines, allocates resources to the Research Center, initiates Research Center reviews, and decides to continue or suspend activity of Center.

Department Chairs/School Directors

Depart Chairs/School Directors review and approve plans of Department/School Research Centers; approve the creation of College and Multi-College Research Centers; recommend approval for continuance of Department/School, College, and Multi-College Research Centers; appoint/approve Directors of Department/School Research Centers. Oversee the activity of Department/School Research Centers and approve operating guidelines, allocate resources to the Research Center, initiate Research Center reviews, and decide to continue or suspend activity of a Research Center.


Faculty prepare documents for creating Research Centers and submit pre-proposals to Chairs.

Research Center Directors

Research Center Directors follow operating guidelines for Research Centers, identify an advisory group, provide reports to and have fiduciary responsibility for Research Center budget. Strategic Research Center Directors provide annual reports to the VPR regarding Research Center activities, long-term goals of the Research Center and progress toward meeting those goals.

Adapted from University of Minnesota Center Policy.