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POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND REGULATIONS

Senate Guidelines and Procedures on Organized Research Units

Notes:   Related Senate Policy on Organized Research Units Approved by Senate: 2012/03/22; Guidelines and Procedures Reviewed by Academic Policy, Planning and Research Committee, March 2012

Signature: "Harriet Lewis"


GUIDELINES

1.         Roles and Expectations
Organized Research Units may be institutionally based or based within Faculties. Institutional ORUs will normally be expected to attract and support a large critical mass of researchers from across multiple units and Faculties. Faculty-based ORUs normally bring together a critical mass of researchers predominantly from a single Faculty.
All ORUs are expected to:
  • attain at least national leadership and international recognition in the relevant area of research.
  • normally align with the strategic research objectives of the University and/or lead Faculty and drive development of research at the Institution in their areas
  • identify opportunities and be a focus for research-related faculty recruitment
  • build around a single focus, or serve as a synergistic hub for convergent programmatic activities
  • provide successful leadership in the pursuit of programmatic and infrastructure funding, while also taking advantage of opportunities to grow and develop their research programs and to sustain their operations
  • provide an enhanced research and training environment for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows
  • develop extensive relationships within the region, nationally and internationally and to actively engage in knowledge transfer and knowledge mobilization activities to an extent appropriate to the area of research
2.         Organized Research Service Units
In some instances, the operations of an ORU may primarily involve the provision of service or contract research products to internal or external clients. Such ORUs shall receive the designation of Organized Research Service Units (ORSUs). While excellence in scholarship and education remains an important goal of these units their evaluation places emphasis on the demonstrated excellence and the continuing relevance of the core services provided.

 

PROCEDURES
1.         Responsibility for Documents and Processes
Responsibility for templates and processes with respect to the chartering, governance and review of York University Research Institutes and Centres lies with the Vice President Research and Innovation, who shall seek advice from and consult with the APPRC Sub-Committee on ORUs and may consult with other relevant groups around the University. 
2.         Timing of Applications
Proposals for new ORUs may be submitted at any time or in response to calls for proposals by the VPRI (Institutional ORUs) or Faculty Research Office (Faculty-based ORUs). (For spontaneous proposals, prospective applicants are strongly advised that the viability of an application is contingent upon the availability of resources and other forms of support from the applicable Faculty/Faculties and/or the Division of the Vice-President Research and Innovation.)
3.         Application Components
3.1      Templates and Processes
All applications must conform to prescribed templates consistent with the Senate Policy on ORUs. Applications for Institutional ORU status must be accompanied by letters of support from all participating Faculties. Applications for Faculty-based ORU status must be accompanied by a letter of support and commitment by the Dean/Principal of the lead Faculty, who may also provide the reports of any external peer reviews that they have requested, and by letters of support from other participating Faculties.
The office of the VPRI shall ensure due diligence in the assessment of ORU charter applications. The VPRI may seek advice from appropriate internal and external advisory bodies in developing an assessment, and will declare the source of the advice received. Applications for ORU status also may, at the discretion of the lead Faculty/VPRI, be subject to external peer review in addition to internal consultation.
4.         Criteria
Applications will be assessed by comparison to the expectations for ORUs as described under Guidelines, with the weighting placed on individual criteria appropriate to the nature of the application and the context in which it is submitted.
5.         Approval Process
All applications and accompanying review documentation shall be provided to the Sub-Committee on ORUs of APPRC for information and discussion. No member of APPRC or its Sub-Committee on ORUs may participate in discussions regarding recommending an ORU charter (application or renewal) if they are a member (current or prospective) of the ORU under consideration. 
Applications are expected to fulfill two criteria for chartering: 1) be of a high academic standard with realistic goals and aspirations appropriate to the area of research, clearly defined and meeting the expectations set out in the guidelines; and 2) have a commitment for appropriate levels of resource support to fulfill the charter mandate. For applications fully fulfilling these criteria, the VPRI will propose to the Sub-Committee on ORUs that the applicants be granted a Charter. The Sub-Committee on ORUs shall be responsible for making recommendations to APPRC. APPRC shall be responsible for making recommendations to Senate.
Unsuccessful applicants may re-apply under the terms specified in clause 3, above (Timing of Applications).
6.         Annual Reporting
ORUs are expected to maintain a sound financial footing and to comply in full with all applicable University policies and relevant external requirements. 
Conforming to prescribed templates, retrospective annual reports shall detail progress made toward achieving goals and finances, together with a prospective research and financial plan for the year ahead. 
Institutional ORUs submit their reports to the office of the VPRI. Faculty-based ORUs submit their reports to the Lead Faculty, but provide copies to other participating Faculties and the Vice-President Research and Innovation.
Annual reports shall be forwarded to the Sub-Committee on ORUs of APPRC for information and comment.In the year before the end of their charter, interested ORUs may submit an application for a new charter. The application process will consist of two parts: a) a retrospective review of the past term and b) a proposal for the next term. 
7.         New Charters
The application process is administered by the Office of the VPRI in consultation with APPRC and resources shall be made available through the office of the VPRI to support the review process. This will include a site visit of up to two days by an expert external review team of normally 3 members selected by the VPRI in consultation with the Sub-Committee on ORUs on the basis of suggestions by the ORU itself, and the participating Faculties. Materials to be provided in advance of the site visit will include all annual reports and plans from the past and a full application addressing the proposed next term of activities. 
As part of the review process, the review team will receive an overview of the philosophy, culture and expectations for ORUs at York so as to be able to appropriately appreciate the unique aspects of the York ORU environment. This introduction will include a welcome briefing by the VPRI and interaction with at least one member of the Sub-Committee on ORUs, and the opportunity to meet with other ORU directors in related areas (Institutional or Faculty, based on the individual review). While review visits are expected to follow a common protocol, time will also be provided to the team to allow them to appropriately explore issues that they may identify during the course of the review.
The review team shall report on ORU progress against expectations and assess and report on the continuing opportunity for the ORU as well as the alignment of the ORU with ongoing internal Faculty/University strategic priorities and external priorities and opportunities. The Review Committee report will be communicated to the ORU and the ORU director shall have an opportunity to provide a written response to the report. The VPRI also may seek advice from others in the formulation of recommendations regarding applications for new charters.
Applications for new charters and accompanying review documentation shall be provided to the Sub-Committee on ORUs of APPRC for information and discussion
Applications are expected to fulfill three criteria for subsequent chartering: 1) being judged through external peer review to have met expectations outlined in their existing charter; 2) have a new charter proposal that continues to be of a high academic standard with realistic goals and aspirations appropriate to the area of research, clearly defined and meeting the expectations set out in the guidelines; and 3) have a commitment for appropriate levels of resource support needed to fulfill the new charter mandate. For Applications fully fulfilling these criteria, the VPRI will propose to the Sub-Committee on ORUs that the applicants be granted a new Charter. The Sub-Committee on ORUS shall be responsible for making recommendations to APPRC. APPRC shall be responsible for making recommendations to Senate.
Unsuccessful applicants may re-apply under the terms specified in clause 3, above (Timing of Applications).
In the absence a new Senate-approved charter, ORU funding will cease at the expiration date of the existing charter and ORU activity will cease no more than three months following the expiration of the Charter, at which time the designation of Research Centre / Research Institute shall no longer be used by the research group.
8.         Sunset (Winding Up) Provisions
All ORU assets are the property of the University in the absence of explicit agreements stating otherwise. All agreements with respect to ORU assets must be in compliance with University policies and procedures and must be approved by the affected Faculties and VPRI before execution. 
It is recognized that during the course of their lifespan ORUs may accumulate assets dedicated to the areas of ORU activity. This may include physical assets as well as supports such as endowments. 
In their accumulation such assets may be accompanied by a legacy clause that specifies their disposition within the Institution when the charter of the ORU expires and ORU activities cease. In the absence of a legacy clause or sunset agreement in the ORU charter, following the expiration of its charter the assets of an Institutional ORU revert to the VPRI, whereas assets of a Faculty ORU revert to the Faculty.