Establishing a Center or Institute

Centers and Institutes have very specific meanings at LSU, and the use of that nomenclature is tightly regulated. Typically, a center is organized and structured around a well-defined, highly focused, research, creative or service effort.  An institute is organized around a broad-ranging interdisciplinary research effort that often includes associated instruction.

In both cases, centers and institutes must be approved at the departmental, college, and university levels, as well as at the LSU Board of Supervisors and Louisiana Board of Regents.

Characteristics of Centers and Institutes

The main reason for establishing an institute or center is to bring into sharp focus the communication, planning, research, or other efforts of faculty and students interested in an area of research, creative activity, or service. Institutes and centers are often proposed when ad hoc or regular departmental structures no longer adequately serve the ends desired.  Typically, institutes and centers are defined in the following ways:

  • An institute is organized and structured around a broad-ranging, interdisciplinary research effort. The primary purpose of an institute is to conduct research and associated instruction, but closely related academic or public service activities may also be included. Typically an institute is an autonomous unit which reports directly to an academic dean, the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, or the Provost. Normally, the breadth of institute research projects and programs transcends department, school, college, or even campus boundaries, and application of research to meet societal needs is often a part of an institute’s mission. Institutes may serve as a formalized link between the academic community and the professional community. Institutes should facilitate efforts of LSU to attract extensive external funding for related research. The creation of an institute requires clear and strong evidence of service to long- range university goals and priorities.
  • A center is organized and structured around a well-defined, highly focused, research, creative, or service effort. A center is analogous to an institute but is: (1) more limited in scope, or (2) an organized unit that serves a specific purpose within an institute, or (3) a unit that provides specialized capabilities to further scholarship or enhance instruction.  The primary purpose of a center is to conduct research, but closely related academic or public service activities may also be included. Typically centers reside within an existing academic unit (College, Department. etc.) and reports to the head of that unit, but may cross college lines and report to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development or Provost.

Centers and Institutes at LSU should have the following attributes:

  • Unit mission advances the strategic strengths and goals of participating academic units and the University
  • Unit provides a mechanism for interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration of faculty multiple disciplines across the campus
  • Unit predominatnly features a research program that is a particular strength of the University
  • Unit operation provides for a leveraged return on the University's or extramural investment
  • Existence enhances research productivity and extramural funding
  • Unit provides special advantages to affiliated academic units and researchers that would otherwise not occur
  • Activities strengthen the educational enterprise and integrate undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, or continuing education and training
  • Unit sponsors special lectures, seminars, symposia, exhibits, or conferences
  • Unit exhibits evidence of national or international reputation as relevant to mission and strategic goals
  • Unit undertakes research and educational programs relevant to societal needs
  • Discontinuance of the unit would have a detrimental effect on the University community, or on the reputation and productivity of the faculty associated with the unit

Contact the Office of Research & Economic Development for more information about establishing a center or institute at LSU.

Types of Centers and Institutes at LSU

Organized Research & Public Service Units
Units whose focus is research and scholarship or scholarship-based public service (e.g. Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices, Life Course and Aging Center).
Academic Support Units
Units whose focus is interdisciplinary educational programs or academic support (e.g. Center for Internal Auditing, Center for Faculty Development).
Federally Named Units
Units whose federal funding mandates the use of "center" or "institute" in its name.