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 academic leadership has developed these guidelines to clarify the process and to support faculty innovation and collaboration.


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 an opportunity for faculty interested in exploration and inquiry around a single theme that is often but not necessarily multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary. As the name suggests, Labs are meant to be testing grounds for faculty initiatives and projects, especially but not only those that cut across multiple units. Setting up a Lab requires support from a faculty member’s academic unit leader and approval from 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, but the expectation is that they will have some amount of internal (NYU/SPS) support/funding. Instead of using the title “Lab,” other terms may more appropriately describe new faculty-led projects, such as but not limited to: Initiative, Hub, Working Group, 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. NYU Central sets the minimum required to establish a new Center. The minimum is currently set at $5 million in an endowed fund.  

INSTITUTE: An institute is typically an organization intended for research or the intensive study of a single (or key) topic over a defined period of time. 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. NYU Central sets the minimum required to establish a new Institute. That minimum is currently set at $10 million in endowed funds.

Note: 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 to establish 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 support from an academic unit’s associate dean and approval from 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.)

List of NYU Provostial Centers.

List of NYU Research Centers and Institutes.


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 to be sure the proposed entity is in alignment with division and/or unit goals. At this point in time, only full-time faculty can propose and direct a new CIL at SPS. Full-time faculty should be aware in advance that there are limited internal resources to fund new CILs. 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). If housed within a single academic unit, proposals must articulate how their mission aligns with the goals and strategy of that unit.
  • The need or gap the CIL is addressing. Building on the previous bullet point, 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 faculty member's administrative position relative to the CIL (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; proposals must demonstrate that the proposed entity will involed and be of interest to multiple faculty. Cross-unit collaborations are encouraged.
  • Explanation of student involvement, if relevant.
  • Resource requirements, i.e., space, faculty, staff, equipment, supplies, etc. 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 not.
  • A 3-5 year budget plan of direct costs and revenues along with a resource development plan.
  • Each proposal should include an annual assessment and outcomes plan as well as a 2-3 year timeline for success.* (See below)
  • Update on conversations with UDAR, as applicable. Conversations with UDAR are facilitated by the academic unit leader.  

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

*Assessment and Evaluation Expectations:

The SPS Dean will expect CIL directors to conduct implementation, outcome, and impact studies to develop, improve, and ultimately reach key project goals. The SPS Dean will expect directors to employ rigorous qualitative and quantitative research methods to examine program process and performance. SPS IR can provide essential reporting tools and data management services supporting CIL operations, research, and accountability. CIL Assessment findings must be shared with the SPS Dean and with academic unit leaders (if housed within a single unit) so the Dean may determine CIL expansions or eliminations.


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

Center for Global Affairs

Center for Publishing and Applied Liberal Arts

Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality

Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport

Related Resources

NYU Provostial Centers

Office of Faculty Affairs

NYU Research Centers and Institutes

Last Updated: April 2023