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Review of Research Centers


This policy describes procedures for the regular review of University Research Centers.

Applies to: 

University Research Centers and Center Directors

Juniper Gardens
Policy Statement: 


Periodic reviews provide an opportunity for University Research Center Directors, Research Center affiliates, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to explore a unit’s challenges and needs, assess the effectiveness of the Center’s leadership, and with the benefit of external advice to make choices that will shape the Center’s long-range plans and evolution. Such reviews benefit from the different perspectives that are provided by a combination of internal and external reviewers. The goal of the review is to facilitate the formation of a shared vision for the Center/Institute that will be used to direct its future development.


Under normal circumstances each URC must be reviewed every five years by a Review Committee and External Reviewers. In some instances, deviations from this schedule may be necessary and will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) with input from the applicable URC director. URC directors must be notified of a URC review on or before May 15 for a fall review and on or before October 15 for a spring review.

Within 90 days from its initial meeting, the Review Committee must submit its report and recommendations in writing to the VCR. Within 30 days of receiving the Review Committee’s report and written recommendations, the VCR must report and summarize the results of the review to the URC director and share a high-level summary to the faculty, staff, and affiliates of the URC.

Review Committee and External Reviewers Criteria

URC reviews will have two components: 1) evaluation by External Reviewers; and 2) evaluation by a Review Committee. The Review Committee shall be provided the External Reviewers’ evaluations, which shall be considered by the Review Committee in making its report and recommendations.

The VCR shall appoint all members of the Review Committee and all External Reviewers. Review Committee and External Reviewers shall meet the following criteria:

      Review Committee

  •  Comprised of five to nine individuals, consisting of KU faculty, staff, and/or affiliates.
  • The majority of the individuals must not receive salary support from the URC.
  • The URC director may suggest potential reviewers to the VCR along with a brief rationale.

      External Reviewers

  • At minimum, two recognized experts in the research areas that are the URC’s focus.
  • One of the external reviewers must have held a position of director of analogous research center at another university.
  • External reviewers must not have a conflict of interest for participating in review of the URC.
  • The URC director may suggest potential reviewers to the VCR along with a brief rationale.

URC Review Materials

The Review Committee and External Reviewers must be provided with a Center Study and a Self-Assessment, both prepared by the director of the URC and information on KU's research profile prepared by the KU Office of Research including information on other university centers.

      Center Study

      The format of the Center Study is flexible, but must include:

  • information about URC mission, activities, and accomplishments during the previous five years;
  • a listing of faculty and research staff affiliated with the URC and information about their research focus and activities;
  • a summary of present and pending internal and external funding for URC activities using data provided by the Office of Research;
  • financial documents including base budget information covering the review period;
  • an assessment of both internal and external opportunities and challenges confronting the URC;
  • a plan for the URC’s development over the next five years including leadership transition, if appropriate;
  • a list of issues/questions on which external reviewer input is sought; and
  • any other supporting documents demonstrating the URC’s mission.

      At a minimum, the Self-Assessment should include the URC director’s:

  • complete and current curriculum vita;
  • current position description;
  • personal statement concerning the director’s vision for the URC and the director's role in achieving that vision;
  • personal assessment of the URC’s progress toward goals and objectives set at the time of initial appointment, the last URC review, and/or the most recent annual reviews; and
  • a statement of goals and objectives for the next five years.


The Office of Research must provide the Review Committee and External Reviewers with specific charges. At a minimum the charges must include:

      Review Committee

  • Election of a chair from its members;
  • Written assessment of the URC's effectiveness in carrying out this mission over the preceding five-year period;
  • Evaluation of the URC's goals for the next five years;
  • Evaluation of opportunities and challenges that the URC faces in the future;
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of the URC's director in providing leadership to the URC; 
  • Suggestions for changes that will enhance the URC's national stature and competitiveness; and
  • In coordination with the Office of Research, solicitation and of the External Reviewers' evaluation.

      External Reviewers

  • Evaluation of the strength of the URC when compared to similar centers;
  • Evaluation of URC director’s leadership and vision;
  • Evaluation of the URC director’s response to national research trends; and
  • Assessment of the URC director’s ability to fulfill the URC’s goals as both a basic research center and economic development driver.

Reviewer Instructions and Guidance

      Review Committee

  • After receiving the review materials and their charges, the Review Committee must meet to discuss these materials and determine a process for gathering additional information. As part of its review, the Review Committee must solicit input from faculty, staff, central administration, and students involved with the URC as well as key clients within and outside the University. Information may be gathered through interviews, surveys, or other methods as deemed appropriate by the VCR. As needed, the Office of Research staff shall provide support for the Review Committee and assist with the data collection and report preparation.

      External Reviewers

  • In coordination with the Office of Research, External Reviewers may wish to interview the URC director, key faculty, and advisory board members about the URC’s accomplishments, intellectual climate, and future plans. Each External Reviewer shall submit a written evaluation to the Review Committee on the strength of the URC when compared to similar centers as well as input on the URC Director’s leadership, vision, response to national research trends, and ability to fulfill the URC’s goals as both a basic research center and economic development driver. If permitted by applicable laws and ethics regulations, External Reviewers shall receive an honorarium in exchange for their written evaluations of the URC.

Review Committee Reports

The Review Committee must provide a written report of its findings and recommendations. The report shall be based on, but not limited to, information solicited from faculty, students, central administration, the External Reviewers' evaluations, and where appropriate, representatives of the professional constituency.

Review Committee Members shall not disclose information obtained during the review process without the express written authorization of the VCR, or as required by law or permitted by University policy.

The VCR shall communicate the findings of the review to the URC director and the URC director shall have the opportunity to discuss the review with the VCR. The VCR shall report a high-level summary of the review to the faculty, staff, and affiliates of the unit involved.


Office of Research

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Monday, September 24, 2007
Effective on: 
Monday, September 24, 2007
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

University Research Center (URC): refers to any of the research units supervised by the Office of Research. This includes but is not limited to centers, institutes, and state surveys.

URC Director: refers to the individual responsible for management of the University Research Center.

External Review, Review, Periodic Review, Center, Center Director
Change History: 

05/26/2021: Updated to reflect new URC Review Procedures.
02/06/2020: Updated Contact section.
10/01/2018: Updated Contact section.
07/06/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
07/09/2014: Technical edits - selected 'Lawrence' for required Campus; updated formatting on List of SectionsPolicy StatementContact, and Definitions fields; added anchors to the main topics of the policy, and links to those in the List of Sections; updated references to 'Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research' and 'Vice Chancellor for Research' and 'Office of Research' to reflect accurate title; updated Review, Approval & Change History to list entries in chronological order, and with standard Policy Library format.
09/10/2012: Change to Contact information.
11/19/2008: Revised, approved by Vice Chancellor for Research; Minor modifications to information in Internal Review, External Review, and Report section.

Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 
Personnel: Staff Categories: 
Research and Sponsored Projects Category: 
Research and Sponsored Projects

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