Policy Number: 169

Establishment and Review of Organized Research Units and Non-ORU Centers


Organized research units and non-ORU Centers



Date Reviewed: September 2013

Responsible Office: Office of Research

Responsible Executive: Executive Vice President for Academic & Research Affairs


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university") encourages the development of collaborative relationships among faculty around research and academic interests and pursuits related to the mission of the university.

To that end, the university enables units and the university itself to establish organized research units ("ORU") for specific purposes in pursuit of the organizational mission. The functions of an ORU are to:

The designation of an ORU under the aegis of the university will refer only to an organization devoted to a non-profit activity engaging faculty and colleagues in scholarly work related to the mission of the university.

In all cases, an ORU is subject to all policies and procedures of the university and may be subject to reporting and auditing requirements.

Faculty with an appointment in an ORU will have an academic appointment in one or more of the schools.


A.  Organized Research Units (ORUs)

ORUs at the university carry one of the designations listed and defined below:

  1. Institute: A major unit that coordinates and promotes faculty and student research on a continuing basis over an area so wide that it extends across school or campus boundaries. The unit enhances and supports broad-based research efforts. The unit may also engage in public service activities stemming from its research program, within the limits of its stated objectives. At the university this term is reserved for major organizations such as The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases or The Institute for Health Policy. Either the President or his/her designee will have responsibility for institutional oversight of an institute.

  2. University Center: A unit that furthers research in a designated field or a unit engaged primarily in providing research facilities for other units and departments. Centers with anticipated annual budgets of at least $3,000,000, representing the sum of research grants and contracts managed through the Center's operations as well as institutional and other funding, are in this category. The Center involves more than one school or unit of the university or multiple departments or operating units of a single school. The President will charge an appropriate executive vice president with the responsibility for institutional oversight of a University Center.

B. Non-ORU Center

Centers with an anticipated annual budget of less than $3,000,000 are in this category.  Non-ORU Centers must have a primary affiliation with one of the university schools, although faculty and staff members may be drawn from multiple schools. The dean of the primary affiliated school is charged with institutional oversight of the center.

In some cases, the term "center" may be used by a school or by university administrators to designate a non-ORU unit such as a particular service or administrative or coordinating activity such as The Center for Animal Care and Laboratory Medicine. The term "center" may also be used as part of the name of a major clinical service provider such as The Harris County Psychiatric Center. These centers must be approved, prior to establishment, by the affected Dean or the Executive Vice President for Academic & Research Affairs ("EVPARA") and the President, or designee. This type of center is exempt from the review procedure described in this policy as they are subject to other review mechanisms.


A. Establishment

1. Organized Research Units

Institutes and University Centers will be created upon approval of a proposal for establishment by:

Proposals for establishment should describe the purpose and benefits of the ORU to the university, the faculty members and other participants; research and other activity plans; space requirements and budget needs. Guidelines for proposals of Institutes and University Centers can be found on the  EVPARA's website which shall also maintain a list of all Institutes and University Centers.

2. Non-ORU Centers

Non-ORU Centers will be established upon approval of a proposal by the Dean with oversight responsibility (i.e., the Dean of the primary affiliated school) and the President. The dean will inform Executive Council of the establishment of a new non-ORU Center.

The Dean of each school shall establish guidelines for proposals of non-ORU centers affiliated with the school and maintain a list of such centers on the school’s website. The guidelines should follow the General Guidelines and Process for Establishment of School Based non-ORU Centers maintained on the EVPARA website.

B. Naming

Proposals to name an Institute, University Center, or Non-ORU Center for an individual or non-university entity must comply with HOOP Policy 65 Naming Policy.

C. Advisory Committee or Council

Each Institute or University Center must be headed by a director and must have an advisory committee/council that assists the director in setting the unit's goals and may assist by critically evaluating its effectiveness on a continuing basis. The creation of an advisory committee/council must be approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents in accordance with the Regent's Rules and Regulations, Series 60302.

D. Review

1. Periodic Report

Each Institute and University Center will be required to submit a report to the President or Executive Vice President with oversight responsibility on a regular basis of no more than three year intervals. The President or Executive Vice President with oversight responsibility will determine the exact frequency and format of an individual ORU's periodic report.

Non-ORU Centers will be subject to review and renewal at least every six years. The Dean of the primary affiliated school will determine the frequency and format of an individual non-ORU Center’s periodic report.

2. Six Year Review of Institutes and University Centers

Each Institute and University Center shall be reviewed every six years by an independent external advisory committee appointed by the President, in consultation with the EVPARA and the Institute or University Center director. The committee shall review the Institute or University Center in accordance with the Regents' Rules and Regulations, Series 40602, Section 6. The committee's report will be forwarded to the President, who, in consultation with others, will determine whether the Institute or University Center shall continue, be phased out or be discontinued. The President shall forward the recommendation and the reviewing committee's report to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs.


ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Office of Research 713-500-3078 https://www.uth.edu/academics/contact.htm