SPS Guidelines for Establishing Centers, Institutes, & Labs

At universities and colleges across the country, including NYU, Academic Centers, Institutes, and Labs (CILs) promote and facilitate the highest quality of multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, teaching, and outreach around themes that involve faculty from multiple areas of study and/or academic units. By bringing together faculty addressing similar questions or issues, CILs have the potential for strengthening disciplinary programs by providing interdisciplinary course work, offering service learning opportunities, facilitating certificate programs, supporting degree programs, enabling high levels of research productivity, and providing external visibility and industry expertise for internal and external stakeholders. Because CILs are meant to be flexible units, their scope, mission and size vary considerably. Their activities can be limited within the boundaries of a single academic unit or across multiple academic units.


SPS currently houses a number of Divisions, Institutes, and Centers, and the nomenclature has historically been more fluid and interchangeable than the definitions proposed below. For this reason, the definitions below should guide SPS academic leadership in the creation of new entities but should not in any way limit or seek to redefine those that exist already. For a list of current CILs at SPS, see Addendum below.

LAB: Labs provide a starting point for faculty interested in experimentation around a single theme that is often but not necessarily multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary. As the name suggests, Labs are testing grounds meant to determine the viability of a project and its potential for becoming an internally and/or externally funded Center or Institute of inquiry. Setting up a Lab requires approval from a faculty member’s associate dean and the SPS Dean and requires a proposal similar to that required to establish a Center or Institute (see below). Labs may begin with or without internal or external funding. If there is no additional funding, the sponsor of the Lab will need to account for the shift in human resources and other resources that will allow for time spent on Lab setup and implementation. Instead of using the title “Lab,” other terms may more appropriately describe new faculty initiatives, such as but not limited to: Initiative, Hub, and Collaborative.

CENTER: Centers typically involve faculty and staff from one or more academic units engaged in a research, educational, or service activity focusing on a common theme or problem. Centers require a formal proposal and a significant internal or external funding source.

INSTITUTE: An institute is typically an organization intended for research. It is often associated with a physical and organizational infrastructure for conducting research and involves faculty and staff from multiple units who depend on a set of common facilities for their research. Institutes require a formal proposal and a significant internal or external funding source.

The bar for establishing a Center or Institute at SPS should be significantly higher than that for establishing a Lab or its equivalent.


NYU Centers/Institutes

There are currently two types of Centers and Institutes at NYU: School-based or Provostial. School-based Centers and Institutes aim to include, primarily, faculty from within a single school and are funded only by the school in question and/or from sources external to NYU. Provostial Centers and Institutes receive resources from the provost’s office, their scope extends beyond the confines of any single school, and they would need established cross-school faculty and dean support in order to move forward. Centers and Institutes can start out in a single school and eventually move into the category of Provostial.

School-based Centers and Institutes need approval from an academic unit’s associate dean and the SPS Dean. Provostial Centers and Institutes need approval from school dean(s) as well as from the Provost. For the time being, the provost’s office has paused sponsoring new Centers and Institutes. (FYI: the Provost’s office has indicated that it typically requires roughly 5 million to start a new Provostial Center or Institute.)

Cick here for list of NYU Provostial Centers 


Establishing a Center, Institute, or Lab at SPS

The creation of a CIL begins with a proposal that is submitted by an academic unit leader to the SPS Dean. No new CILs may be established without approval from the SPS Dean. Full-time faculty interested in establishing a CIL should contact their academic unit leader before moving to the proposal stage. At this point in time, only full-time faculty can propose and direct a new CIL at SPS. Both full-time and adjunct faculty, however, are welcome and encouraged to participate in SPS CILs.

All CIL proposals should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Mission (and how it supports SPS mission and NYU mission)

  • The need or gap the center is addressing. How does the proposed CIL align with school and, if relevant, university strategic initiatives? Are there similar CILS already in existence at NYU? Why can’t the CIL’s mission and objectives be obtained within existing school structures?

  • The central initiatives and programs the CIL will be sponsoring

  • Information on the director’s position (including what, if any, additional stipend or course buyout will be necessary; does the director have PI status already?) and the organizational structure, governance, and primary faculty participants and what they are willing to commit to (teaching/supervising/running events/running workshops?) Keep in mind our goals for faculty administrative positions to rotate, where applicable.

  • List of faculty who will compromise an advisory board

  • Explanation of student involvement, if relevant

  • Resource requirements, i.e., space, faculty, staff, equipment, supplies, etc. (please note at this moment in time SPS is not committing additional resources to establish new CILs) Please include where the CIL will be housed (physically and/or virtually) as well as notes on whether it should live within an existing academic unit or beyond

  • A 3-5 year budget plan of direct costs and revenues

  • Metrics for success

  • Update on conversations with UDAR, as applicable

All SPS CILs will be reviewed by the SPS Dean and the relevant academic unit leaders annually.


The following is a list of Centers, Institutes, Labs, and Collaboratives currently housed at SPS:

Center for Global Affairs

Center for Publishing

English Language Institute

Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality

Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport

Schack Institute of Real Estate

Office of Academic and Faculty Affairs

Related Resources

NYU Provostial Centers

Office of Academic and Faculty Affairs

Last Updated: June 2021