Institute FAQs


Q: Why are we changing from the current department-based structure?
A: Many external factors are contributing to an increasingly complex environment for higher education and academic medical centers. Leadership feels the most effective way for UNTHSC to continue to lead and thrive in this environment and optimize competitiveness for major research initiatives is to reorganize using the Institute model.

Q: What defines an Institute?
A:  To be identified as an institute, several benchmarks must be met, such as number of participating faculty with relevant expertise, alignment with institutional objectives, well-defined research strategy and implementation plan.

Q: How does an Institute differ from a Center?
A: In UNTHSC’s model, a center is a sub-entity within the broader institute. A center will generally have a mission that fits within the overall institute priorities, but with a more specific focus. Faculty in a center are by default members of the umbrella institute.

Q: How will teaching be affected?
A: For the upcoming year, no significant change in assignment or delivery of lectures for the schools will be initiated. Institutes will enhance our educational mission by creating new and unique opportunities for interprofessional learning, and they will also have responsibility for research-focused courses.

Q: What will happen to existing departments?
A: Departments will be phased out as the Institute model is fully implemented (target date of Fall 2016).

Q: What will happen to existing department chairs?
A: A large number of chairs will assume leadership positions within the institutes and centers.

Q: Will additional resources be made available to support this move and the faculty research efforts?
A: Yes. New funds have been dedicated to specifically support the development of the institutes. Institute Executive Directors, with approval of the Vice Provost for Health Institutes, will oversee use of some of the funds. Funds for inter-institute and/or inter-school collaborative projects will be overseen by the Vice Provost.

Q: What about space?  Will faculty laboratories and offices be moved?
A: Texas legislature approved $80 million in funding for construction of a new six-story research building to support the needs of the health institutes. A key goal is to co-localize laboratories and offices of faculty within an institute or center to optimize collaborative opportunities. This building also will house the College of Pharmacy. We anticipate breaking ground on this building in September 2016, with completion planned for December 2018.


Q: How will faculty join an institute?
A: For phase 1 of this transition, four institutes are launching.  Faculty who are currently housed in a department that is largely converting to an institute have been invited to join the corresponding institute. Individual faculty are being consulted to ensure this is the right fit (regarding the institute’s research, teaching and/or clinical emphasis) for them. If not, they will have the option to associate with a different institute.

Q: What about remaining faculty?
A: Those faculty who haven’t yet affiliated with an institute will apply for membership to the institute most aligned with their interests and expertise.  Information on the institutes will be posted on the website as it becomes available, and we will distribute details on the process to join an institute.

Q: What happens if a faculty member can’t find an institute that is a good fit?
A: It is our goal, once all institutes have been initiated, that all faculty members can identify an institute that will align with their interests and expertise.

Q: Will faculty have the opportunity to be part of more than one institute?
A: Yes. Faculty who choose to do so will designate a primary institute. The primary institute will be responsible for annual evaluation, advancing materials for promotion/tenure decisions, etc.

Q: Will this change affect faculty salaries?
A: No, this change in structure will not affect salaries.

Q: How will annual evaluations be conducted?
A: If a faculty member’s primary appointment is to an institute (or a center in an institute), the evaluation will be done by the Executive Director of the institute (or director of the center) to which the faculty member belongs.

Q: Will there be any change to the promotion and tenure process?
A: For this year, the promotion and tenure process will proceed as in the past.  In future years, we anticipate some role for the institutes in the P and T process, but the school committees will remain the final recommending body.

Q: How will clinical duties of the faculty be assigned and managed?
A:  While clinicians will have an institute affiliation, oversight of all clinical activities will be managed by the heads of the clinical service lines.


Q: How will this change affect departmental staff?
A: For those departments that are effectively converting in whole to an institute, the staff are similarly transitioning to the institute and their duties and roles will largely remain unchanged. For those departments where only a portion of faculty are moving to an institute, a proportionate number of staff will also transition to the institute.

Q: As a staff member, will I have any input on the institute to which I will be assigned?
A: Institute executive directors and department chairs will consider staff input in considering potential transition of staff members from a department to an institute.  Ultimately the decision on staff re-assignments will be made by the vice provost for health institutes, in consultation with the institute executive directors and department chairs.

Q: As a staff member, how will I be evaluated?
A: The staff evaluation process used across the institution will also be used for institute staff, and the evaluator will be the executive director of the institute in which the staff member works, or a designee.

This page was last modified on December 18, 2015