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UCSD General Campus Organized Research Unit Policy and Procedures

Revised May 2010

Table of Contents




A. Director

B. Advisory and Executive Committees

C. Memberships



A. Call for Proposals

B. Establishment Review Process



A. The Review Process

B. The ORU Self-Assessment

C. The Report of the Review Committee


Appendix A. ORU Designations

Appendix B. Review Criteria

An Organized Research Unit (ORU) is an academic unit the University has established to provide a supportive infrastructure for interdisciplinary research that complements the academic goals of departments. Characteristically, ORUs cross significant intellectual boundaries between disciplines such as those assumed to exist between departments and divisions, or their equivalent. ORUs may also be established to serve a compelling campus research priority or need that has been identified through broad campus consultation or strategic planning. If an ORU’s membership lies within a single Division, either at the time it is established, or during the course of a 5-year review, then a clear and compelling case must be made as to why the unit should be an ORU and not a unit within that Division.

ORUs serve to enable or facilitate interdisciplinary research and research collaborations; disseminate results through research conferences, workshops, meetings, performances and other creative activities; seek extramural research funds; and carry out university and public service programs related to the ORU's research expertise. ORUs provide undergraduate and graduate student research and training opportunities and can contribute to the development of interdisciplinary academic programs and curricula that are established, overseen and supported by one or more Divisions. An ORU may not, however, act as an academic home unit that offers degree programs or formal courses for credit to students of the University or to the public. In some instances, ORUs provide administrative oversight or services to interdisciplinary curriculum programs. It is critical in such cases that there be a separation of funding and reporting lines to the cognizant Vice Chancellor and Divisional dean for each respective activity in order to keep them independent of one another.

The cognizant Vice Chancellors for ORUs are the Vice Chancellor - Research (VCR) and Senior Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs (SVCAA) on the General Campus, the Vice Chancellor - Health Sciences (VCHS) in the Health Sciences, and the Vice Chancellor - Marine Sciences (VCMS) for Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO). This policy describes general principles that extend to all academic units of the campus and implementation guidelines for ORUs on the General Campus. Implementation procedures may differ for SIO and the Health Sciences.

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The description of purpose above allows the following definition: 

An ORU is a non-permanent academic unit established with the approval of the Chancellor or his/her designee. It provides a structure to support interdisciplinary research that complements the academic goals of departments. ORUs are subject to review every 5 years to reassess their goals and ensure a continuing and dynamic commitment to relevant interdisciplinary research.

Non-ORU Units

It is important to distinguish between formally established ORUs and other units of a less formal character. Other units such as departmental laboratories and some centers, programs, and projects are not ORUs unless they have been officially approved as such, although they may resemble ORUs in some respects. In the solicitation of extramural funds for a research project by a unit that has not been granted ORU status, care should be taken not to use terminology nor make representations which suggest that the proposing unit is in fact a University-approved ORU. The designations in Appendix A shall not be used as formal labels for units that are not ORUs without the consent of the appropriate Vice Chancellor.

Non-ORU units administered within other academic units of the University, such as departments, divisions, or ORUs, may request appropriate recognition as a University unit from either the VCR and SVCAA, the VCHS, or the VCMS, as appropriate.

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A. Director
ORU directors are valued members and leaders of the UCSD research community. Each ORU is headed by a Director who will be a tenured member of the faculty and who shall receive an administrative stipend determined by the VCR in addition to faculty salary. A faculty member who already earns such a stipend through another appointment (e.g., as Associate Dean or Department Chair) may not receive a second stipend. Such dual administrative responsibilities should be avoided where possible.

The Director of a General Campus ORU is appointed by the VCR, with approval of the SVCAA, and reports to the VCR. The founding Director of an ORU shall be specified in the proposal to establish the ORU and is appointed by the VCR upon the formal approval of the new ORU.

When the appointment of a new Director is required for an existing ORU, the VCR shall conduct a campus-wide search from among the tenured faculty in consultation with the Academic Senate, the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (SVCAA) and individuals affiliated with and advising the ORU. Directors will be selected on the basis of their ability to foster multidisciplinary research and build leadership and world-class excellence in the supported areas of scholarship. At the conclusion of the search, the new Director shall then be appointed by the VCR for a period of five years. If, at the conclusion of the search, a qualified Director cannot be identified, this may be regarded as sufficient reason to disestablish the ORU. In certain cases, particularly during leadership transition periods, a team of co-Directors may be named to lead an ORU.

At the suggestion of the ORU Director, the VCR may also name one or more Associate Directors (ADs) for an ORU in consultation with the ORU Director and its Executive Committee; these individuals may also receive a stipend to be determined by the VCR. Responsibilities of Associate Directors must be defined at the time of appointment, and must differ from the normal responsibilities of an ORU Director.

Directors of ORU's are normally appointed for five-year terms, the appointment period coinciding with the ORU review period. While directors who have served for ten consecutive years could potentially continue to serve productively in this role, such a term extension should be carefully weighed against the advantage to the campus and the ORU of a change in leadership.

B.  Advisory and Executive Committees
The Director will work with an Executive Committee, chaired by a faculty member other than the Director, that is composed of at least five (5) faculty and senior researchers from the unit. It is expected that the ORU will work to identify committee members that span intellectual and divisional boundaries to ensure the continuing multidisciplinary nature of the ORU and its mission. This committee, along with the Director, forms the key decision-making body for the unit. The committee should meet at least quarterly and, together with the Director, establish the unit's goals, determine criteria for membership in the ORU, recommend changes in the unit’s membership, advise the Director on major decisions affecting the unit (e.g., appointments and promotions of research scientists/scholars, and submission of major contract and grant proposals), and critically evaluate the unit’s effectiveness on an ongoing basis. Major decisions of the Executive Committee should be reported by the Director in the unit’s Annual Report. The Executive Committee should meet with the ORU review committee (see Section VII) and otherwise be available for consultation with five-year review committees during the course of the ORU’s review.

ORUs should also have an external Advisory Committee, comprised of individuals from other on-campus units and/or from outside the campus to provide perspective and to help identify new research and scholarly opportunities. The composition of this committee should be determined by the Director working with the Executive Committee and the VCR. The Executive Committee and the Advisory Committee are formally appointed by the VCR or his/her designee. This committee should review the activities and plans of the unit and provide written advice to the Director and Executive Committee on an annual basis. A summary of the Advisory Committee recommendations and findings shall be given in the unit’s Annual Report.

C.  Memberships

A diverse and vibrant ORU is dependent on its members to provide the multiple opportunities for interactions across the campus that lead to the creation of new, cross-disciplinary research. To maintain their vitality, ORUs must be accessible to and encouraging of new members who will bring fresh ideas to the ORU’s research portfolio.

ORUs may have one or more of the following types of membership. Membership type for individuals is determined by the ORU’s Executive Committee.

Full members: UCSD faculty (including adjunct professors) and research and project scientists/scholars who are members of the unit’s leadership or who have research and/or other creative activities that are administered by the unit. The unit is expected to provide appropriate tangible support for the ORU-related research activities of these members, including administrative support and space.

Associate members: faculty and academic researchers from other universities, non-profit research institutes, and federal laboratories, for example, who are collaborators on research projects of the ORU. 
Academic affiliates: researchers from UCSD, other universities, non-profit research institutes, and federal laboratories, for example, who are interested in the activities of the ORU, but are not collaborating on the ORU’s research projects.
Industrial affiliates: companies with an interest in the ORU’s activities. Terms of membership in this category must be consistent with UC policies governing relationships between faculty and industry.

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Operating funds provided to an ORU from the Office of Research Affairs (ORA) are intended to support the core administrative needs of the ORU, including personnel such as business managers, HR, and pre- and post-award staff. These operating funds are not to be used for the direct support of research activities within the unit. Given this expectation, the campus has a responsibility to provide funds sufficient to support the core administrative needs of both existing and newly established ORUs that it has approved, subject to the approval of the SVCAA and availability of financial resources. Typically, appointments funded solely by ORU resources will be time limited to the life of an ORU, after which neither the ORU, nor ORA will be responsible for salary commitments for such appointments.

When budgets permit it, the VCR may agree to also provide temporary funds to an ORU in support of other ORU-related activities. The use and term of such temporary funds shall be determined and agreed upon between the VCR and the Director. Support for graduate students may be sought by ORUs directly from the Office of Graduate Studies. 
Any positions within an ORU—professional, technical, or administrative—may be established and filled, regardless of the funding source, only after specific review and authorization of the proposed positions and of the candidate selection in accordance with University policies and procedures. Positions that are supported by ORA funds are to be approved in consultation with the ORA prior to the beginning of the recruitment process.

ORU resources and administration are managed by the VCR and ORA in consultation with the ORU. At the launch of an ORU, funds from the ORA will generally be committed for up to a 5-year period, with review at three years to consider the need for adjusting the level of support. At the VCR’s discretion, however, ongoing ORU budgets may be reviewed and adjusted annually.

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An Organized Research Unit (ORU) is established by the Chancellor, or his/her designee, acting upon the recommendation of the Senior Vice Chancellor-Academic Affairs (SVCAA) and the VCR, who, in turn, seeks the advice of the Academic Senate and appropriate Dean/s, department chairs, and others.

A.Call for Proposals  
To ensure that the campus provides new opportunities for interdisciplinary ORU-based research, the VCR may issue an annual request for proposals (RFP) to establish new ORUs subject to the availability of financial and space resources. This RFP shall be provided to all faculty with sufficient lead time to allow faculty to develop their ideas. Faculty are encouraged to consult with the VCR and his/her staff early in the proposal preparation process. Proposals will be reviewed extensively by the ORA and the Senate, initially for their intellectual merit and quality of proposed interdisciplinary research, education, public service, and commitment to campus diversity goals. Proposals that are favorably reviewed in this first round will then be evaluated through a second review of the resource requirements and commitments necessary to ensure the success of the ORU. At each stage, the ORU proposal is thoroughly evaluated in consultation with the SVCAA, relevant Deans, and the Academic Senate.

B.Establishment Review Process 

1. Intellectual Merit Review.

Proposals submitted to the VCR in response to this call should, at a minimum, address the list below.  Proposers should consider their stated goals with particular care, as their ORU will be reviewed in large measure based on the extent to which they meet their goals.
    1. Research, education, public service, and diversity goals and objectives of the ORU.
    2. Name of the proposed director, who will be a tenured faculty member; any co-Director or Associate Director should be identified, as well. 
    3. Proposed membership of the Advisory and Executive Committees for the first year of the ORU’s existence.
    4. Experience of the core faculty in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research collaborations.
    5. A discussion of the added value and capabilities that will be brought by the new ORU and an explanation of why they cannot be achieved within existing campus academic units.
    6. Research plan for the first year of operations and projections for the four years following.
    7. Statement about anticipated benefits of the proposed ORU to the teaching programs of the participating faculty members' departments or other existing academic units and programs.
    8. Names of faculty members who have agreed in writing to participate in the unit's activities and supporting letters from the divisional Deans associated with these faculty members.
    9. Projections of numbers of faculty members and students, professional research appointees, and other personnel for the specified periods.
    10. A preliminary estimate of the resource needs and anticipated sources of funding for the first five years.

The proposal should also list similar units that exist elsewhere, describe the relation of the proposed unit to similar units at other campuses of the University of California, and describe the contributions to the field that the proposed unit may be anticipated to make that are not made by existing units.

If the proposal receives favorable administrative review, the VCR will submit the proposal to the Chair of the Academic Senate, requesting the Senate’s assessment. On the basis of the administrative and Senate reviews, the VCR may either decline to continue consideration of the proposal, or recommend the proposal move to a second-round review to determine resource commitments.

2. Resource Review

During the second stage of the review, authors of first-round proposals receiving a favorable recommendation will work with ORA to secure the necessary campus resource commitments. To this end, a supplemental proposal should provide:
    1. Budget estimates for the first year of operation, projections for the four years following, and anticipated sources of funding.
    2. A statement of immediate space needs and how they will be met for the first year; and realistic projections of future space needs.
    3. A realistic plan to seek and obtain the necessary extramural funding needed to launch the research plan of the ORU.

The ORA will work with the proposers to secure written financial commitments from all parties providing support for the ORU, including an agreement to allocate space for the new ORU. All necessary startup requirements must be agreed to in writing to ensure the adequacy of the overall support and space allocation to the unit. This second-stage proposal is then reviewed in the manner discussed in V.B.1.

Should the Academic Senate recommend approval, then, with the agreement of the Senior Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs, the VCR shall recommend the establishment of the Organized Research Unit to the Chancellor.

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Each ORU will submit annually a report on the ORU’s activities for the prior fiscal year to the VCR in a uniform format that is based on a template provided by ORA. The Annual Report shall be presented to the ORU Advisory and Executive Committees for their review and concurrence prior to submission to the VCR. Receipt of the annual report by ORA is required prior to disbursement of the next year of funding for the ORU. The report is to include the following:

  1. Brief summary of major activities during the past year, including a discussion of how the prior year’s goals have been met.
  2. Names of persons serving on the unit's Executive and Advisory Committees.
  3. Dates of Executive and Advisory Committee meetings. 
  4. Summary of key Executive Committee and Advisory Committee recommendations. 
  5. Copy of Advisory Committee report(s), minutes, or other relevant documentation.
  6. Names of faculty members actively engaged in the unit's research and their supervision of staff and students.
  7. Names of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral scholars directly contributing to the unit who (a) are on the unit's payroll; (b) participate in the ORU’s scholarly work through assistantships, fellowships, or traineeships; or (c) are otherwise involved in the unit's work.
  8. Extent of student and faculty participation from other academic institutions.
  9. Numbers and FTE of academic research personnel, technical staff, and administrative personnel who are paid through the unit's accounts.
  10. Efforts to contribute to the campus’s diversity goals. Contributions to diversity and equal opportunity can take a variety of forms, including efforts to advance equitable access to education, public service that addresses the needs of California’s diverse population, or research in a scholar’s area of expertise that highlights inequities.
  11. List of publications, issued by and acknowledging the unit, including books, journal articles, and reports and reprints, showing author, title, and press run; or other evidence of creative scholarship, such as colloquia, conferences, workshops, performances, and exhibitions. Publications must acknowledge the ORU.
  12. Sources and amounts (on an annual basis) of income, including contracts and grants, gifts, University support, service agreements, and income from the sale of publications and from services.
  13. Expenditures from all sources of support funds, distinguishing use of funds for administrative support, direct research, and other specified uses.
  14. Description and amount of space currently occupied.
  15. Summary of ORU goals for the coming year.

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ORUs have contributed substantially to UCSD’s outstanding research reputation. In order to maintain an exceptional ORU portfolio at UCSD, it is important to periodically assess the performance of existing ORUs. The review process provides ORUs with a mechanism for in-depth, peer-reviewed evaluation of programs and goals, and provides the administration with a means of ensuring that research being conducted is of the highest quality and justifies the space and support received from the University.

Each ORU will be reviewed at intervals of five years. No ORU may be continued without such a review. Leadership changes in an ORU, should not delay, extend, or otherwise cause the review cycle to be altered. In exceptional circumstances, the VCR acting in consultation with the Senate may form an ad hoc review committee that can serve to review an ORU outside of the normal five-year review cycle. ORUs that are approaching the end of the second five-year period since their establishment date will be carefully examined to ensure that the goals and measures for success, agreed upon by the Director and the VCR at the time of establishment or last review, have been met. Every review should address the ORU’s original purpose, current goals and objectives, and its operations and scholarly accomplishments in light of the current and emerging needs and opportunities within the intellectual domain of the ORU. In addition, working in consultation with the VCR, the ORU should define suitable measures of success that will then be used in the subsequent review of the organization. The effectiveness of the ORU Director likewise is reviewed at the same time as the ORU. All ORUs must establish a rationale for continuance, in terms of scholarly merit and campus priorities. 
A. The Review Process 
The VCR has been delegated responsibility for the review of ORUs on the General Campus. 

  1. To ensure adequate time for the preparation of a proposal for continuance, ORA will notify an ORU that it will be reviewed no later than January 15 of the Academic Year preceding the Academic Year in which the review is to be conducted.
  2. The ORA will arrange a meeting of the VCR and/or Associate Vice Chancellor for Research (AVCR) with the ORU Director soon after notification to describe the review process.
  3. The ORU Director will prepare a self-assessment covering the ORU's mission, history, resources, and accomplishments, as outlined in Section VII.BThe material will be presented in accordance with the format provided by ORA.After review by the Advisory Committee, materials will be submitted to the VCR by October 1 of the Academic Year of the review.
  4. The VCR will appoint a review committee from a slate nominated by the Academic Senate. The VCR will also appoint at least one committee member from outside UCSD who has expertise in the field of study.  The UCSD Senate Committee on Research will identify a lead discussant for the review.
  5. The VCR and/or AVCR will meet with the review committee to provide explicit instructions prior to the beginning of the review.
  6. The review committee will interview the ORU Director, Advisory and Executive Committee members, associated faculty, divisional Dean/s, if appropriate, and other individuals deemed pertinent to the review, including non-UCSD researchers in the field; tour the ORU's physical facilities; and prepares a report of its findings.
  7. The review committee will prepare a draft report of its findings in accordance with the review criteria in Appendix B and the parameters in VII.B. below.  The draft report will be submitted to the VCR to ensure the review has been thorough and in accordance with the review criteria. If satisfied, the VCR requests that the review committee submit a final version of the report.
  8. The VCR forwards the final report to the Director, the SVCAA, the Academic Senate Committee on Research’s Lead Discussant (COR-LD), and the cognizant divisional Dean/s, requesting comments to the review report.
  9. The Director distributes the report to and consults with members of the ORU and the ORU Executive and Advisory Committees.  S/he uses this input to prepare a written response to the review report for submission to the VCR.
  10. The review committee then meets with the VCR and the COR-LD for the review. 
  11. The Director then meets with the VCR and the COR-LD for the review.
  12. The VCR forwards the ORU’s most recent 5-year report, the report of the review committee, the Director's response, and other comments to the report from other sources to the Academic Senate.
  13. The Academic Senate reviews the report and the Director's response and makes recommendations to the VCR on both the continuation of the ORU and reappointment of its Director, along with any other issues it deems appropriate.
  14. In consultation with the SVCAA and the Deans of the cognizant Divisions, the VCR prepares a summary letter for the ORU, identifying recommendations regarding continuation, the directorship, and other issues raised in the review and requesting specific actions as appropriate.
  15. Presuming that the ORU is continued, then after not more than one year, the ORU submits a formal report to the VCR, documenting the ORU’s progress on key recommendations from the recent review.

B.The ORU Self-Assessment 
To begin a review, an ORU develops a formal proposal for continuation of ORU status, and requests supporting funds and space in the context of current campus and University needs and resources. The review proposal should include the following:

1) The ORU’s goals and objectives should be listed, detailing any projected changes to the mission and objectives of the ORU if it is continued. If an ORU proposes to change its name as the result of new research directions or the addition of new fields of research to the unit’s mission, the Director will describe the rationale for requesting a new name as part of the review process.

2) Evidence of Accomplishments should be provided, focusing primarily on the preceding five years. The unit’s success in meeting the mission and goals that were previously identified and agreed to by the ORU and ORA should be evaluated. Key elements of this discussion include:

Research.   The relevant discussion here may include comments on the quality and significance of completed and on-going research;  significant trends within the disciplines represented in the ORU and their relationship to current research specialties in the ORU; the added value and capabilities that the ORU has brought to the campus, which would have been difficult to achieve within other campus structures; the continuing productivity and influence of ORU participants, locally as well as nationally and internationally; the evidence of prominence in the fields represented in the ORU; a description of the ORU’s collaborative interdisciplinary work and the quality and impact of the work on other research efforts across the campus; the degree of postdoctoral scholar training within the ORU; the importance of the ORU to Visiting Scholars; contributions to the professional development of the ORU’s professional staff and faculty; and descriptions of the possible sources and availability of extramural funds to support the ORU’s research. 

Graduate and Undergraduate Research Training.  Relevant issues to consider include: What are the contributions made by the ORU toward graduate and undergraduate research training? What is the ORU’s impact on existing academic programs and units, including the benefits to the teaching programs of the participating faculty members’ departments? 

Diversity Goals.  How has the ORU contributed to campus diversity goals? Contributions to diversity and equal opportunity can take a variety of forms, including efforts to advance equitable access to education, public service that addresses the needs of California’s diverse population, or research in a scholar’s area of expertise that highlights inequities.

Relationships to Other Academic Units. Questions to address may include:  How does the unit interact with other similar units in other research centers or institutions? Are there additional relationships the unit could be exploring that are not currently being pursued? If so, what are the impediments?

Public Service and Outreach. How has the ORU made significant contributions to the public and the community beyond UCSD?  Measures of success can include, for example, intellectual property that is brought to market; research that improves the quality of life for citizens; and events hosted by the ORU that engage the public’s interest.  What are the measures of success for the unit’s future activities? 

Administration and Governance.  Describe the ORU’s Advisory and Executive Committees. What are their roles, how often do they meet, and how well do they function? Are any changes needed to the Advisory, Executive, or other governance committees? Is there adequate and planned turnover of Advisory Committee members to ensure that new ideas and perspectives will be presented over time?

Problems and Needs. Describe any constraints which prevent the ORU from functioning at an optimal level.

Justification for Continuance.  Describe the ORU’s plans for the next five years. It should be made clear to reviewers how the ORU’s plans will evolve from the situation presented in the self-assessment. Plans for external fundraising should be addressed.

  • 3) In consultation with ORA, clearly define measures of success appropriate for the research focus of the ORU.  These measures will then be used in the subsequent review of the ORU to determine the degree of the unit’s success.
  • 4) Campus Information including:
      1. Unit Profile
        1. Names of (Co-)Directors, Acting Directors, and Associate Directors, and tenure of appointments.
        2. Members of Executive and Advisory Committees, including members’ titles, affiliations, and dates and terms of membership.
        3. Names of UCSD faculty who were/are members of the ORU, including their departments and dates of affiliation.
        4. Names of faculty who have agreed to participate in the ORU’s activities over the next five years.
        5. Names of UCSD professional researchers who have appointments in the ORU, including appointment dates.
        6. Names, home universities, and dates at UCSD of all visitors during the last five years, including source of support.
        7. Names of undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, their advisors, dates of association with the ORU, and, for graduate students, their department and masters degree and/or PhD degree conferral date.
        8. Description of any university-industry and university-government activities.
        9. Description of seminar, lecture, and conference programs.
        10. Listing of all publications and other scholarly works that have appeared under the auspices of the ORU.
      2. Physical Facilities and Space.  Description of the physical facilities housing the ORU, including type of space (laboratories, studios, seminar rooms, professional research staff offices, administrative offices, etc.), assignable square footage, and location.
      3. Financial Data
        1. All income received by the ORU for each fiscal year since it was last reviewed from:
          • Federal, state, local, and international grants and contracts;
          • Foundations and private gifts;
          • UCSD and other UC-derived funds.
        2. Expenditures for personnel in both FTE and dollars for each fiscal year since the last review:
          • Research and student personnel listed by title (Professor, Postdoctoral Scholar, Associate Research Physicist, Specialists, Graduate and Undergraduate students, etc.);
          • Technical staff by title (Development Engineer, SRA, Computer Programmer, etc.);
          • Administrative staff by title (MSO, Accountant, Secretary, etc.);
          • Equipment purchases;
          • Supplies and expenses.

C. The Report of the Review Committee 
The criteria for preparing the review report are outlined in Appendix B. Justification for continuation of an ORU must be carefully documented. Review committees shall consider and make specific recommendations on the following range of alternatives to the status quo: a change in the mission of the unit; a merger of the unit with one or more academic units on the same or another campus; discontinuance of the unit; a change in funding sources; a change in other resources (such as FTE, space, etc.); or any other changes for improvement of the ORU.

Directors of ORUs are normally appointed for five-year terms, the appointment period coinciding with the ORU review period. As noted in Section III.A, extending a director’s term of service beyond ten consecutive years should be carefully weighed against the advantage to the campus and the ORU of a change in leadership. The review committee should look carefully at the Director’s stewardship of the organization and comment on its quality. The committee may recommend that the present director be reappointed or recommend a change in leadership.

The review committee may also, if it thinks appropriate, prepare a confidential statement to the VCR. It may also provide the VCR with confidential letters received from individuals during the review process.

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Review committees may recommend continuation or closure of an ORU. In exceptional circumstances, an ORU director with the approval of the ORU’s Advisory Committee may recommend closure during the period between reviews. In this circumstance, should the SVCAA and the cognizant Dean(s) agree with the recommendation, the VCR will notify the Academic Senate of the closure and the reason for the decision. As with all ORU-related processes, the closure process for an ORU shall be conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

  1. A recommendation to disestablish as part of the review process receives careful consideration by the ORU director and Executive and Advisory Committees, the Academic Senate, chairs of departments and directors of other ORUs that would be affected by the closure, relevant Deans, the SVCAA, and the VCR.
  2. After reviewing comments from all of the committees and individuals listed in VIII.1. above and if the VCR determines that closure is the best course of action, then the VCR recommends such closure to the Chancellor via the SVCAA.  The SVCAA formally closes the ORU.
  3. The VCR sends formal notification to the Academic Senate.
  4. The Chancellor, or his/her designee, issues a letter formally disestablishing the ORU.
  5. A phase-out period lasting from a few months to up to two years is provided to permit orderly transfer or termination of non-faculty personnel, grants, financial accounts, and programs.  ORA will work to ensure research space for existing grants is preserved, and to facilitate the transfer of these grants to other academic units or ORUs for administration, on a case-by-case basis.
  6. At the time an ORU receives notification it is to close, the ORU Principal Investigator(s), with the assistance of ORA (if necessary) will make reasonable efforts to find all ORU academic appointees a new home department to transfer their existing academic appointment to, provided there is remaining work and grant funding. Reappointment of academic research personnel will be consistent with current campus academic advancement and reappointment policies. If a layoff must be initiated, the ORU must follow PPM 230-7, including providing appropriate notice to the appointee. 
  7. For research scientist appointments in an ORU that is to close, if the ORU PI is unable to identify a new home department, the ORA will assume primary responsibility for working with the Director, the faculty who have collaborated with these individuals, the Divisions, and the Senior Vice Chancellor - Academic Affairs in order to assure appropriate reasonable efforts are made to find these appointees a new home department for the remainder of their current appointment period.
  8. ORA will provide assistance to non-academic staff in identifying new positions as the result of a closure recommendation.
  9. University funding for the ORU reverts to the VCR and/or SVCAA to fund needs and opportunities for ORUs, including new ORU proposals. Space assigned to the ORU reverts to the space bank of the SVCAA.  Within a month of notification by ORA that an ORU will be disestablished, the ORU Director, in consultation with the VCR and SVCAA, must develop a plan for the return of space during the phase-out period. 

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  • ORU Designations

Organized Research Units normally carry the designation "Institute", or "Center", but other titles may be employed in particular situations. An ORU that covers a broad research area may in turn contain other more specialized units; for instance, an Institute may comprise several Centers, or a Station may comprise several Facilities. It is recognized that some long-established units have designations that do not conform to the definitions that follow; however, insofar as possible, designations of new units shall be taken from those defined below.  It should also be noted that new non-ORU units may wish to use terms like those below to compete more effectively for extramural support

Institute: a major unit that coordinates and promotes faculty and student research on a continuing basis over an area so wide that it extends across department, school or college, and perhaps even campus boundaries. The unit may also engage in public service activities stemming from its research program, within the limits of its stated objectives.

Laboratory: a non-departmental organization that establishes and maintains facilities for research in several departments. A laboratory in which substantially all participating faculty members are from the same academic department is a departmental laboratory and not an ORU.

Center: a unit, sometimes one of several forming an Institute, that furthers research in a designated field; or a unit engaged primarily in providing research facilities for other units and departments.

Station: a unit that provides physical facilities for interdepartmental research in a broad area (e.g., agriculture), sometimes housing other units and serving several campuses. The terms "Facility" or"Observatory" may be used to define units similar in function but with narrower interests.

Multicampus Research Units (MRUs) and Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPIs): MRUs and MRPIs provide stimulus and cohesion for thematic topics important to UC and California and serve as a resource for the UC system. Policies and procedures for MRUs, may be found at


  • Review Criteria
  • In conducting a review of an ORU and preparing its report, the committee should keep in mind specific questions enumerated in the Charge to the Review Committee provided by the VCR, which usually deal with particular unique aspects of the ORU under review.  General questions that are common to all ORU reviews are summarized below.  Review committees are asked to directly respond to these questions in order to ensure completeness of the review report:
  1. Introduction and Executive Summary.
    1. Mission. A concise statement detailing any projected changes to the mission and objectives of the ORU if it is continued.
    2. An evaluation of the overall scholarly quality of the ORU.
    3. Evaluation of the ORU’s self-assessment. Specifically, does it accurately reflect the ORU’s current stated objectives and activities? Its strengths and weaknesses?
    4. Assessment of the ORU Director’s performance.
  2. Evidence of Accomplishment.  What are the ORU’s major accomplishments over the preceding five-year period in the following areas?
    1. Research. What is the committee’s evaluation of the quality and productivity of research? Is there compelling evidence the ORU has contributed to outstanding research in the disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas in which it specializes? If appropriate, to what extent is the ORU attracting graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and/or faculty to UCSD?  Are the ORU’s participants sufficiently active in the pursuit of available extramural funds? How does the extent of annual extramural research funding compare with similar units nationwide?  What international connections have been established?
    2. Undergraduate and Graduate Research Training.  What is the committee’s assessment of the direct and indirect contributions of the ORU to graduate and undergraduate research training at UCSD? What contributions does the ORU make to enhance undergraduate and graduate research training associated with the teaching programs of academic departments and programs? What evidence is there that the ORU is attracting graduate students to UCSD? For ORUs that provide administrative services to interdisciplinary curriculum programs, has the ORU maintained appropriate separation of funding and reporting for these activities?
    3. Recognition for Excellence beyond UCSD. Does the unit have a national and international reputation for excellence?  Are there national and international collaborations that have been established? 
    4. Diversity.  How has the ORU contributed to the campus’s diversity goals? Contributions to diversity and equal opportunity can take a variety of forms, including efforts to advance equitable access to education, public service that addresses the needs of California’s diverse population, or research in a scholar’s area of expertise that highlights inequities.
    5. Public Service and Outreach. Has the ORU made significant contributions to the public    and the community beyond UCSD? Have there been benefits to the citizens of California? Measures of success can include, for example, intellectual property that is brought to market; research that improves the quality of life for citizens; and events hosted by the ORU that engage the public’s interest.   Does the ORU have clearly defined measures of success that are aligned with the unit’s research focus?  To what degree have these measures been satisfied?  What are the measures of success for the unit’s future operations? 
  3. Budget.  Does the ORU make cost-effective use of UCSD funds? Has the unit been successful in obtaining extramural funds to augment UCSD funding? If additional UCSD funding were to be provided, what needs are regarded as most critical? 
  4. Space and Resources. Is the space assigned adequate, appropriate and reasonable? What specific changes, if any, are recommended?
  5. Governance and Administration. Does the administrative structure meet the needs of the ORU? The report should separately address the following administrative issues:
    1. Governance.  Comment on the ORU’s governance, its structure and effectiveness, including the leadership qualities of the Director and the ability of the Advisory and Executive Committees to provide guidance to the Director.  Is there evidence of succession planning?
    2. Faculty Participation. Is there adequate participation of faculty from diverse disciplines in the ORU? Is there evidence that the ORU is a factor in attracting faculty to UCSD and retaining them? 
    3. Comparisons with Other Units. What are the ORU’s unique contributions to the University that distinguish it from other similar academic entities at UCSD? Is the unit’s continuance as a separate entity justified? What would be lost if the unit did not exist? Are there effects of the ORU on campus departments?
  6. Five-Year Projections. Provide critical commentary on the Director’s research budget and plan for the next five years.
  7. Conclusion and Recommendations. The committee should summarize its recommendations for the future of the ORU, including, but not limited to, a recommendation about its continuance, directorship, and any changes involving administration, governance and funding.  In making its recommendations, the committee should particularly consider whether the current ORU structure will continue to advance the goals of the University. 

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