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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Centers review process


Each center within the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) should be reviewed every five years. The purpose of the review is twofold: (1) To provide feedback to the Center’s leadership to help ensure the Center’s future success; (2) To provide a formal mechanism for feedback to the VCRGE on the administrative and research needs of the Center.

The review should examine the Center’s success in meeting its established objectives, planned changes in program objectives, planned steps to achieve new objectives, adequacy of space and other resources made available to the Center, and the adequacy of the budget to support the mission. The review committee is invited to make specific recommendations to the VCRGE, if appropriate, for improvements in the mission, budget, administration, research focus, space and other resource requirements, and programs and activities of the Center.

There is wide variety in the mission, organization and funding structure of the various OVCRGE centers. A single, uniform review process is therefore impractical and the enclosed guidelines are meant to be flexible to provide useful feedback to the Center and the OVCRGE. For those centers with an extramurally funded core or base grant, the review may occur 6-12 months prior to the submission of a competing renewal application or 6 months after the receipt of the summary statement of a competing renewal application depending on the specific needs of the Center.

Review process

An outline for the review process follows.

  1. The appropriate Divisional Associate Vice Chancellor for Research will have an initial meeting with the Center director and other members of the Center’s leadership team to discuss the timeline for the review, the scope of the self-study, and the composition of the review committee. It is recognized that depending on the mix of research, service, and outreach activities for the center, some of the sections in the outline below may be abbreviated or not appropriate. A primary goal of this initial meeting is to identify those sections of the self-study most relevant to the Center, and therefore the focus of the self-study.
  1. The center leadership will prepare a self-study with the information described below. The length of the self-study will vary depending on the scope of the Center’s activities. Although the length of the main text will vary depending on the specific mix of center activities, we expect it will be about 20 pages (excluding appendices).
  2. A review committee will be appointed by the VCRGE in consultation with the Center Director and the Divisional Associate VCR (AVCR). The committee will consist of three to five faculty and academic staff who are not center members but have expertise appropriate to the center’s mission and an Associate Vice Chancellor for Research from a division other than that of the center. The Chair of the review committee will be appointed by the VCRGE.
  3. After reviewing the self-study, the committee will schedule a site visit and meet with the center director, other center leadership, and groups of center faculty, academic staff, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and classified staff.
  4. The committee will provide a report to the appropriate divisional AVCR on the center’s strengths and opportunities, and the value of its contributions to the campus and scholarly community. The report should be submitted within one month of the review meeting.
  5. The AVCR will provide a copy of the report to the center director, who will have an opportunity to respond to the report within one month.
  6. The VCRGE, the relevant divisional Associate VCR, and any other relevant members of the office of the VCRGE will meet with the review committee to obtain their feedback on the center director’s response.
  7. The VCRGE will meet with the Center Director to share the committee’s comments, if any. In light of this additional feedback, the Director will be given an opportunity to add an addendum to their response
  8. The center’s self-study, the Review Committee’s report, the Center Director’s response, and any additional relevant documents will be forwarded to the University Research Council (URC) for review. The URC will discuss the center’s review and the committee’s recommendations.
  9. Based on URC discussion, the VCRGE will provide to the center director an assessment of the contributions and quality of the center.

Self-study document

The self-study document should contain the following information. For those centers with a core or base grant, many of these elements can be extracted from the renewal application. In that case, the summary statement from the most recent review should be provided as an appendix. The self-study document is not intended for general distribution and will be treated as a confidential document within the VCRGE office and appropriate governance groups.

Mission and history

  • Provide a brief description of the Center, its mission and main focus of activity, and history. Describe any changes in mission or focus that have occurred in the past 5 years. If appropriate, describe how the Center’s mission and activities contribute to the Wisconsin Idea.

Campus-wide impact

  • Provide a discussion of the impact of the Center on the campus. In other words, what is the Center’s “added value” to the campus? Describe how the Center contributes to the mission of the university.
  • How does the Center interact with departments and programs on campus and with other centers on campus? How does the Center foster campus collaborations?
  • How does the Center bring researchers and graduate students together?
  • How does the Center contribute to the recruitment and retention of outstanding faculty and to the training of graduate students?

Leadership, administration, governance, and staff climate

  • What are the responsibilities and authorities of the Center Director?
  • Describe the administrative structure of the center, including the roles of key personnel.
  • Is there an executive committee for the center, and, if so, how often does it meet? Are there regular public (or staff/investigator) meetings to discuss issues related to center activities? How do center investigators and academic staff participate in the governance of the center?
  • Does the center have an external advisory committee? If so, describe the process for obtaining their advice. If applicable, provide a copy of the most recent advisory committee report as an appendix.
  • Describe efforts to increase the diversity of center faculty, staff and students and to promote a sense of inclusiveness.
  • Describe Center activities related to the professional development of the staff and describe the processes in place for evaluating academic staff and for review for promotion.
  • Has a staff climate survey has been carried out in the past 5 years? If yes, discuss the findings.


  • Describe the process by which new investigators are chosen or recruited to the center. What are the criteria for center membership?
  • Are there multiple categories of center investigators? If so, does the center provide distinct services for each group?
  • Is there a review process for maintaining status as a center investigator? If so, how is the review accomplished?
  • Provide a table listing all center investigators that includes the name, position, home department and school, and the year they joined the center. If the center has assignable space, the table should indicate whether the investigator has office and/or laboratory space within the center.
  • Include a two page C.V. for core personnel as an appendix.


  • Provide a narrative of the most significant research accomplishments in the center over the last five years.
  • Describe the policies related to submission of grants through the center. If applicable, describe the center policy for sharing credit with the home schools of the investigators for those grants that it administers.
  • List all grants administered by the center over the past 5 years. The table should include the PI name, funding agency and grant number, the title of the grant, the annual direct costs for the current year, and the duration of the award.
  • List all active grants of center investigators that are administered by other units, providing the same information as in the table above. If the award information requested in this and the preceding bullet is not available to the Center, the office of VCRGE will assist in obtaining it.
  • List technology transfer information such as patents, licensing, and/or IP disclosures.
  • Provide a complete bibliography that includes all peer-reviewed papers published by center investigators over the last five years. Alternatively, the CVs of Center members may be provided as an appendix.

Education and training activities

  • Describe any educational or training programs administered by the Center for graduate students or postdoctoral fellows.
  • List the total number of graduate and postdoctoral students directly contributing to and/or benefiting from the Center.

Service and Outreach

If part of the mission of the Center is to provide public service and outreach, provide evidence of these contributions at the local, state, and federal levels including:

  • List presentations or activities involving community-based organizations.
  • List publications developed and distributed to non-technical audiences.
  • List collaborations or connections that were initiated between individuals and institutions as a result of center activities.
  • If appropriate, provide evidence of Center activities that exemplify the Wisconsin Idea.

Resources, funding and sustainability

  • Provide a summary of present internal and external funding for center activities.
  • If the center has assignable space, provide details on the space and any policies related to assignment of space to center investigators.
  • Provide a list of major equipment, equipment needs, and planned major equipment purchases.
  • For revenue generating Centers, discuss the extent to which the revenues from services or products are meeting the Center’s costs.
  • For revenue generating Centers, does the Center have a business model? Is there a process in place for evaluating the success of the business model?
  • Describe any resource challenges that the Center has faced over the past 5 years.

Center core services

If the center provides core or shared services, for each describe:

  • The services provided by the core, along with any plans for introduction of new services over the coming years.
  • The approach used for establishing the pricing structure within the core, and the frequency of review of the pricing structure.
  • Information on utilization of the service by center investigators, other campus faculty, and off campus entities.
  • The method for prioritizing activities of the core.
  • The process for reviewing the center services and determining whether existing services should be continued or new services introduced.

Assessing outcomes

  • Identify the key indicators used to assess whether the Center is meeting its objectives.
  • What performance metrics are used by the Center to determine success?

Plans for the coming years

  • Discuss the major goals for the center over the next five years, including any new directions for research or other center activities that are contemplated.
  • Indicate any strategic issues or potential problems that are likely to require attention in the coming years.