University Strategic Organizations (USOs) are required to submit, on a yearly basis to the Office of the Vice President for Research, a one-page (two-sided) annual summary of activities using a standard template provided. This information must be submitted by 1 February for the previous year's activities unless otherwise approved and is used to maintain a working portfolio of University capabilities for both internal and external use. During years in which a renewal or continuation review is held for USOs, additional information is required.
Additionally, USOs will be notified each spring to submit a one-page request for base funding that specifies how funds from the previous year were expended, the scholarly and organizational benefits of those expenditures, and a request and justification for funds in the following year.
Periodic merit review is essential for maintaining high quality in scholarship and ensuring wise investment of resources. It also should be conducted in a manner that extracts the needed information with minimal disruption to the organization being reviewed.
USOs operate on a five-year plan (see figure below) and are reviewed mid-way through year-three. If seeking to continue, they must at that time submit a new five-year plan to the Vice President for Research. The year-three review will focus on the extent to which the USO has achieved its stated objectives and met its specified review criteria.
Five- year cycle of University Strategic Organizations
For the three-year review, a panel, consisting of internal and external experts, is appointed by the Vice President for Research to assess, as appropriate, scholarship, creative activity, administration, education impact, broadening of participation by traditionally underrepresented groups, workforce development, and overall outcomes and impacts. Members of the USO Advisory Committee also may be involved. Costs for engaging external members are paid from central funds. The review panel is provided with the annual report of activities during the previous five years, along with the new five-year plan.
The panel prepares a report for the Vice President for Research and Provost, with distribution to the Research Cabinet and cognizant deans and chairs. The panel recommends continuation, de-scoping, re-scoping or termination, and the Vice President for Research acts upon these recommendations as appropriate. In the event de-scoping or re-scoping are recommended and subsequently approved, the USO director, in collaboration with University leaders and the Advisory Committee, is expected to submit to the Vice President for Research, within 6 months, a revised plan, which is be reviewed internally. If a recommendation for termination is made and upheld, a plan for doing so likewise is submitted to the Vice President for Research within six months. Termination must be approved by the President and will be reported to the Regents.