Recentering Centers Essay

4958 Words Aug 8th, 2015 20 Pages
Re-Centering Academic Centers

This paper argues that we have lost the original intent and power of an institutional Center. Theoretically, Centers use centralized resources to support people and projects core to the mission of the institution. Many Centers now are located external to the campus, where isolated directors pursue specialized interests. Thus, Centers, which serve the entire community, become marginalized. This paper provides a model to re-center academic Centers toward their original intent, through collaboration between specialized and generalized centers. The authors also suggest concrete steps to help examine, evaluate and create clear structures and communication for effective use of Centers in Higher
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Center directors, now working on the margins, create a self-fulfilling prophecy of isolation, by failing to find means to integrate with other institutional partners and to develop a set of faculty stakeholders to link back toward integration. In this paper we hope to present a viable argument that due to the increase in Centers, there may be a need to reorient them – physically, financially and philosophically – away from the periphery and toward a central discussion that links to broader university initiatives.
The idea of integrating Centers, so that each School or College would not need to resource individual capabilities, would seem to make financial and logistical sense, however, we are aware of the political reasons why some people and departments might wish to have more control over their resources, and what they offer to their faculty and staff. But this current approach of establishing peripheral Centers weakens the interaction, and subsequent possibilities, which Centers could impact. Many Centers are now being developed that focus on very narrow and specific interests that often fail to fully integrate faculty, staff and students, drawing significant limited resources from more broadly delineated university missions toward narrow objectives. Thus these multitudes of ‘quasi’ Centers not only drain resources to pursue limited agendas, but they often do so in a vacuum without

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