The mission of the University of North Carolina at Asheville is to offer a superior liberal arts education promoting the free and rigorous pursuit of truth, respect for differing points of view and heritage to its students. UNCA aims to develop students of broad perspective who think critically and creatively, communicate effectively and participate actively in their communities. As a public university, UNCA also serves the region and state in ways that complement its educational mission and encourages students, faculty and staff to interact with and serve the greater community.
The purpose of establishing centers or institutes within UNCA is to support the Mission by establishing or enriching programs of scholarship, public service and instruction conducted by the faculty, administrators and professional staff. Centers or institutes provide students, faculty and staff with added opportunities for scholarship, research and public service. They may contribute to the recruitment of professionals who work at the intersection of intellectual boundaries, enhancing creativity and collaboration across traditional disciplines. Centers and institutes may also contribute to economic development of the state and region by supplying technical assistance and training, providing job opportunities, supporting collaborative activities and enhancing the creation and transfer of new technologies.
The establishment and continuation of centers or institutes must be based on institutional mission and need, intellectual and professional excellence and visible, quantifiable results. Since these units may compete for and consume scarce institutional resources, including personnel, monies, facilities, services and reporting or oversight responsibilities, they must be careful to avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts and activities within UNCA. Each center or institute should seek to differentiate its mission, activities and clientele from those of other entities, and to make its facilities and resources available to other units for cooperative activities and collaborations where appropriate.
While demonstration of secure external funding is essential for viability, no single funding model is expected to apply to all centers and institutes. The activities of the unit may be funded from state appropriations, from external funds sought for that purpose, or both. Unless organized specifically in response to legislation and appropriations approved by the North Carolina General Assembly to focus on a specific state need, each center and institute is expected to demonstrate a strong foundation of non-state support to justify not only its establishment but also its continuing operation.
Centers or institutes at UNCA may be established when faculty, professional staff or administrators wish to collaborate around a multi disciplinary intellectual, educational or service mission. Procedures and criteria for establishing, evaluating and discontinuing centers or institutes must adhere to regulations of the UNC and General Administration Policy 400.5[R]: Regulations for Planning, Establishing, and Reviewing Centers and Institutes in The University of North Carolina.
Institutional centers are now approved by the Board of Trustees of the constituent campus. The first such center the BOT approved was the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) last year. Two other center proposals currently working their way towards Board consideration are the Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) and the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness (NCCH&W).
The process to establish a center adheres to an established policy linked to a University website and overseen by the Chief Research Officer. Centers must be reviewed every other year in a designated process. Ultimately, the Provost must make a recommendation to the Chancellor as to whether a proposed or established center is a viable entity and serves the University appropriately. In making decisions to establish, continue, or sunset centers, the Provost will consult with relevant faculty and staff and seek the recommendation of the Chief Research Officer. Upon concurrence with the Provost, the Chancellor requests from the Board of Trustees establishment and discontinuation of a Center.
Appendix of Definitions
Centers versus Institutes
In the UNC system, there is no technical distinction between centers and institutes. In practice, an institute frequently refers to an activity with broader scope than that of a center, and an institute may create centers as separate subunits within its administrative structure.
Institutional Versus Interinstitutional Centers
Centers may be either institutional or interinstitutional in nature, and may be designated as research, public service or instructional units. They may include the participation of other institutions, agencies or organizations.
Institutional centers at UNCA report to the Chancellor or designated administrative officer. These centers may collaborate with units or departments from other institutions for specific activities and projects, but fiscal and administrative oversight is limited to UNCA.
Interinstitutional centers serve to promote collaboration and to minimize duplication within the University. They increase the opportunities for external funding by enhancing interdisciplinary collaborations and by facilitating access to a wider range of facilities, faculty, students and other resources. The UNC Board of Governors approves and provides oversight for all interinstitutional centers and institutes.
Types of Centers and Institutes
A research center or institute has research as its primary mission. Although classified as a research center or institute, such a unit may also provide instruction, training, technical assistance or public service programs.
A public service center or institute has public service or technical assistance as its primary mission. Research, instruction and training activities may also be conducted as secondary components of the mission.
An instructional center or institute has training or instruction as its primary mission. Although classified primarily as an instructional center, these units may also conduct research and public service activities.
Membership Centers or Institutes
Any center or institute may also be defined as a membership center or institute. These units receive a substantial portion of their funding from membership fees paid by corporate or other private or governmental agencies to pursue research, public service or instructional activities of mutual benefit.