Special Research Program Guidelines

Definition and Purpose

Special Research Programs (SRPs) exist at UC Irvine to provide a structure for collaborative research activities that do not fit the definition and purpose of an Organized Research Unit (ORU), a Campus Center, or a School Center. An SRP may, for example, be formed in response to a special funding opportunity, as the campus branch of a University of California research program, in conjunction with a major Federal center grant, or as part of a federal or state governmental initiative. An SRP may also coordinate and administer unique research technologies or facilities used by researchers from multiple disciplines and schools. SRPs may be established for three or five years or, in special circumstances, an indefinite period.

The Office of the President's Administrative Policies and Procedures Concerning Organized Research Units specify that the term "Center" may be used for research units not formally constituted as ORUs. An SRP that is based exclusively at UC Irvine may, therefore, use the title “Center”. An SRP that is a branch of a University of California research program may use whatever title has been designated system-wide.

Establishment and Administrative Procedures

Designation as a Special Research Program is approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research, in consultation with the Academic Senate Council on Research, Computing, and Libraries (CORCL).

The research goals of the SRP should complement the academic goals of the University. Faculty loosely organized around a common set of research problems do not constitute an SRP.

An SRP may not be established if its objectives are essentially the same as those of an existing department or research unit.

Generally, the establishment or renewal date for SRPs will be January 1 or July 1.

Appointment of Director

The Director of an SRP must be a tenured faculty member and is generally appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research.

The Director reports to the Vice Chancellor for Research and is responsible for the administrative functions of the SRP, as well as for guidance of the unit's activities in accordance with its established goals. Prior to and during their appointment, Directors are asked to disclose any potential conflicts of interest with their role as Director of the SRP.  The Director is reviewed at the same time as the SRP.

Administrative Operations

Faculty affiliated with SRPs are expected to follow all University of California policies and the policies set forth by their respective academic departments related to academic responsibilities, including teaching workload, faculty commitment of effort, faculty compensation, honoraria, travel, and sabbatical leave. The SRP reports to the Vice Chancellor for Research and must follow administrative review and approval processes set forth by the Vice Chancellor and/or campus policy. All employment opportunities in an SRP will be created and filled in accordance with University policies and procedures, and with full awareness of the normally finite life of an SRP.

An SRP does not have jurisdiction over courses or curricula and cannot offer formal courses for credit. It may perform other academic functions ordinarily carried out by departments of instruction and Organized Research Units; that is, organize research conferences and meetings, advise on graduate curricula, support graduate research, and manage training programs in conjunction with departments of instruction. It may employ graduate students and conduct other administrative activities in the pursuit of its goals.

In support of the University’s commitment to attaining excellence through diversity, every SRP is expected to maintain an environment that values differences and is free from discrimination and harassment.

Application and Review Procedures

An SRP may be proposed by any group of faculty members. They should first consider the appropriateness of the proposed SRP as a School Center, a Campus Center, or an Organized Research Unit and, if appropriate, apply under those mechanisms.

A written proposal for the SRP (typically no more than 20 pages) should be submitted and address the following points:

  1. Scholarly justification. Describe the important research justifications for establishing the SRP.  Explain why the proposed SRP is not appropriate as an ORU or school/campus center.
  2. Describe the investigators who will be involved in the SRP, how they will be involved, and the importance of the SRP to their research.
  3. Describe how the SRP will be administered, and what resources will be available (space, administration, financial).  Describe the proposed Director and any other leadership.  Documents for commitments should be included as attachments.
  4. If the proposed SRP is based on a funding initiative, provide information about the funding, including magnitude and duration, and copies of grant reviews.
  5. Value added. Describe how establishment of the SRP will provide value added to the university, and what opportunities would be missed if it did not exist.

The SRP proposal will be reviewed within the Office of Research (OR).  The review will be carried by an ad hoc committee, with representation from the Academic Senate Council on Research, Computing, and Libraries (CORCL).  After the review, the Vice Chancellor for Research may establish the SRP and appoint the Director, typically for a period of 5 years.

Periodic reviews of SRPs (typically every 5 years) will be conducted by OR in consultation with CORCL. An ad-hoc review committee will be constituted by OR that includes a CORCL representative. The review will assess the SRP’s activities with regard to the stated purpose, present functioning, and future plans. Detailed instructions will be provided to the SRP in advance of the review. The SRP will be evaluated for its progress and scholarly and scientific contributions, similar to the review of an Organized Research Unit. CORCL will be provided with the review. The VCR may continue the SRP and reappoint the Director.

When a program review is concluded with the continuation of the SRP and/or Director for an additional term, any suggestions or comments that the Vice Chancellor feels may be helpful in planning for the next term will be communicated in writing to the SRP Director. The Director will be asked to respond to those comments in the next annual report.

In addition to the program review, each SRP may periodically undergo an administrative review. This review of the management and operations of the SRP may take place before a leadership transition, such as when a new Director is appointed, or in conjunction with a regularly scheduled SRP program review, or as needed.

Budget and Financial Considerations

Activities of SRPs may be funded by a combination of University budget allocations, extramural funds, service income or endowments. Funding allocations from the Office of Research, if any, will be based on the fiscal year, July 1st to June 30th.

Annual Reports

At the end of each academic year, SRPs shall submit to the Vice Chancellor for Research an annual report that includes:

  1. A summary of activities carried out by the SRP during the past year.
  2. Any significant changes during the past year.
  3. Numbers of FTE of professional, technical, administrative and clerical personnel employed.
  4. Sources and amounts (on an annual basis) of support funds, including income from the sale of publications and from other services.
  5. Expenditures, distinguishing use of funds for administrative support, matching funds, direct research and other specific uses. A copy of the June 30th Final Ledger will satisfy this requirement.
  6. Any other information relevant to a unit's effectiveness, including updated plans.

Inquiries and Questions

Requests for consideration as an SRP should be directed to:

Vice Chancellor for Research
Office of Research

Questions About Special Research Programs?

Hung Fan
Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives

Jill Yonago Kay
Director, Research Policy
(949) 824-1410