Center Status FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Center Status

1. How will we sustain a funding stream after the first couple of years?

We would need to find a grant (or grants) after the first three years (or sooner) of being a center that could sustain us (i.e., pay for admin, materials, etc.). We have already created a spreadsheet with some possible grants we could apply for, but those are always competitions with no assurance of success.


2. Who will be doing the “work” of running the center? What role would faculty play in this? Will a staff be hired to work full time in the Center in order to write grants and handle day to day operations? Are faculty members expected to do this?

Looking at other Centers at UNCG, the “work” of running the Center is typically carried by the Director and/or an administrative assistant.  Faculty seem to function more as research associates or advisors, or sometimes have a small project they are responsible for that falls within the larger umbrella of the Center’s work.  See link below to view other UNCG Centers and their websites.  The hope and plan is to identify an assistant with the right skills and have enough funds to hire that person.


3. What does “research” look like within the Center? What role do individual faculty members play in identifying appropriate projects? Or is the expectation that faculty work on existing projects (which as of now seems to include focus on the Allen Middle School project…how do we find out about projects we might be interested in?)

Most Centers at UNCG have a specific mission statement that guides their research activity.  Faculty members can collaborate to work on the larger vision. The center will need a clear research vision and direction for the next three to five years.  The work of the CDLC this year is returning to collaborating on projects of interest, such as the Allen Middle School project, organizing a conference, considering ways to disseminate our findings, building our capacity for policy work, etc.


4. What are the perks, short term and long term, for becoming a center that we do not currently already enjoy as a coalition?

Because we would potentially receive some funding for the first three years, we would use it to fund an administrator who focused on grant writing and other administrative duties, such as the website. This staff person would be permanent. As a center, we could also  gain more status in the community. We could  also gain more permanence with funding (3 year approval cycle as opposed to annual).


5. In order to enjoy the center-endowed perks, do we have to shift our focus, and our funding, from working with communities to doing busy, administrative work? If so, what are the trade-offs and are they worth it?

There are more administrative requirements with a Center, but the hope is that there will also be staff to help with those tasks.  Centers can still work with communities, certainly, and potentially have the leverage to bring more far-reaching benefit to them.  This is still based on the assumption that we’d be able to successfully start a funding stream.


6. What kind(s) of additional bureaucracy would we be embroiled in as a center and what are the ramifications with regards to paper-work/admin duties in terms of reporting on projects, etc, that may not be worth it in the long term?

We will need to write reports about our accomplishments every 1 to 3 years. Some years, we will need to write multi-year reports. The center will collect information from faculty and then the director and administrative assistants will write the report.


7. Centers can be shut down anytime. What are the risks of that should CDLC become a center? Can we just revert back to coalition status if that happens?

Yes, there is risk that we could be shut down as a center. We could be shut down if we don’t secure funding after three years. Historically, centers have also been shut down for political reasons. If that happens, we can revert back to a coalition.


8. Where will we be housed?

Because of our history with the School of Education, we would be housed there. We can always move if that seems to be the best decision at the time.


9. Will the Center focus on “chasing grants?”

Per the comparison between Centers and research networks below, it does seem that Centers receive no state funds and must pursue external funding in order to keep moving.  Hopefully there are staff support persons who can help with that activity, but it will involve input from at least a few faculty members with research ideas.  We do hear loud and clear that the CDLC membership does not find the prospect of “chasing grants” to be appealing!


10. Does the CDLC Director still get a course release in order to shoulder the load in terms of report writing, grant seeking, organizational pieces (along with a staff person)? Is the Director in position permanently?

Most likely, the Director will receive a course release to shoulder the load of report writing, etc. along with a staff person. As a group, we can decide how long a Director can/should hold the position.


11. Can we “peek” into life as a Center by interviewing someone?

Paige Hall Smith, Director of the Center for Women’s Health and Wellness:

Mostly, Paige confirmed what we have expressed above about being a Center. Here are a few things that she stressed: (a).  the importance of having our Dean’s support if we will be housed in the SOE (we have that); (b) the fact that we won’t receive state funds, which makes funding complicated (including pay, graduate students, etc.); (c) the reports can be time consuming (she was writing a multi-year report when I spoke with her); and  (d) that Centers do not always have to rely on grant funding. In other words, her Center does a lot of community work that is valued. Because her Dean supports her role as a Center director, they have the flexibility to do both community work and research (funded by grants).


12. What would being a research network look like?

Using the Child and Family Research Network as an example, the pros and cons of being a research network are:

pro’s:  research networks are supported by Provost’s office, no approval/accountability beyond Provost’s office needed, not a ton of paperwork and reporting, Susan Calkins gets a course release and Pam Baldwin is a part time staff support person (grant applications, budget, communications, organization), no pressure to seek external funds, able to give “mini-grants” to UNCG researchers to promote research and to put on small conferences on topics of interest.

con’s:  both research networks we talked about (CFRN and RISE) are campus-wide, not based in just one School/College, they are mostly inward facing and don’t have a larger research agenda beyond building research capacity at UNCG, they do have to ask Provost each year for funds and have seen decreases in amounts during tough times, no guarantee year to year, CFRN has been successful largely because of the persuasive powers and enormous network of Susan Calkins – she is a unique leader.  It is worth it to the provost to support her because she also brings in research grant $$ to the university, which is not something we can claim so far.

If we are happy providing mini-grants to promote UNCG researchers, networking around our common interests, and considering doing some conferences, but would rather not have the increased accountability piece, then the research network might meet our needs. It does not offer permanence, but continues with our current practice of submitting annual goals and asking for internal funding to meet those goals.

If any of us have grander visions of what CDLC could become or could mean to the larger community beyond UNCG, or if anyone feels strongly about pursuing a large external grant and having more power/status, then a research network could feel limiting and a center might be more appropriate. There is more accountability and documentation required with a Center, but more years between review cycles (thus, permanence at least on a 3 year review schedule).

Amy did learn that research networks can be embedded within Centers, and someone even suggested a closer relationship along those lines between CNNC and CDLC.


13. Would there still be a leadership team after Center status? What would the role/function be?

Most Centers we have investigated (see ORED website: http://research.uncg.edu/centers-and-institutes/) have one strong, identified leader whose vision directs the Center, and then a set of community partners, advisory board members, graduate students, perhaps a staff member, and some research associates or project coordinators. The role of Director would be of central importance in a Center. As a group, we can decide what structure works best for our goals as a Center.

 


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