UW Research

Establish a Research Center or Institute

The UW seeks to facilitate the development of new research initiatives that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries. One effective way of doing this is through the creation of interdisciplinary units, commonly identified as centers, institutes, programs, or other such terms. Collectively, we refer to these as ‘Organized Research Units’ (ORUs).

University Procedures for Establishing a New ORUs

Acquire Dean’s Authorization

The primary academic activities of the university are conducted by departments, schools, and colleges. Research centers and institutes should be created only when there is a strong case to be made for why the academic mission of the university cannot be achieved within existing structures. A dean or deans authorizes the creation of an ORU.

Approval of a Center or Institute (ORU) Name

A dean or deans may authorize the creation of an ORU; however the Office of the Provost must approve the name of any new research center, institute or other proposed ORU. Deans should send a letter of request and complete this form and email it to the Vice Provost for Research at research@uw.edu.

The Vice Provost for Research will circulate a memorandum to selected campus administrators containing the data provided by the requesting unit. The memo will request their feedback and ask for any concerns regarding the suggested new center or institute name. The Vice Provost for Research will review and address any issues or concerns within thirty days. If at the end of thirty days, either no issues are presented, or all issues are addressed, an approval will be sent to the requesting unit.

In the case of generic research centers defined by funding agencies, such as NIH-named centers or clinical centers, the dean’s office should submit a “letter of intent to create a center” 60 days in advance of the official center creation. If the Office of the Provost does not raise any concern within 30 days of receiving the letter of intent, the dean may proceed with creation of the research center without further authorization. In the case of NIH centers where the institution retains the option of choosing the center faculty and name, approval is required as outlined above.

ORU Name Change Process 

Dean-level authority is also required to authorize the name change of an ORU. The dean’s office will submit the Organized Research Unit Name Change Approval Form when an ORU name change is requested. Complete and submit the form to research@uw.edu.

If you are requesting a new center or institute name, follow the instructions above.

Build Your Website

Within the first quarter of the establishment of the ORU, the ORU’s staff is responsible for creating and maintaining an ORU website, and for making sure the site is added to the Research Centers and Institutes webpage. There is a bio template available with directions for submission for inclusion on the Research Centers and Institutes webpage. The ORU is required to update the information on the UW center website on an annual basis.


Guidelines for Establishing Organized Research Units provide definitions and guidance that include naming your ORU, procedures for requesting financial support (matching funds), annual report requirements, and RCR guidelines.

The Handbook for Leaders of Organized Research Units (ORUs) provides information, best practices, tools, and policies for leadership and administrators of UW ORUs. This document is most useful at the development stage and launch of a new ORU, but also provides valuable guidance throughout the life of the ORU. In this document, you will find information on team research paradigms, strategic planning help, and tools and roles and responsibilities for leadership, management, and staff.

Forms, Tools and Resources