Reviews of Centres
TERMS OF REFERENCE
Self Appraisal Report and Institute Review Team
On April 18, 2002, the General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors of the University of
Calgary approved ‘Raising Our Sights: an Academic Plan for the University of Calgary to the
year 2006’. This strategic plan is built around a clear commitment to enhancing quality, scholarly
culture and openness in decision-making and communication. It recommends the development of a
process to ensure that centres and institutes (hereafter ‘institute’ will stand for both), benchmark
their activities and that the University assesses their quality against national and international
standards of achievement and excellence. The comprehensive review process would provide an
examination of the institute based on statements of its scope and vision, on a review of its plans
and activities during the term under review, and on its success in meeting the goals enunciated in
its charter, with a view to focusing support on centres and institutes of superior quality. The Vice-
President (Research & International) has delegated the administrative responsibility for the
review process to an Associate Vice-President (Research & International) with administrative
support provided by a Review Coordinator.
To evaluate the quality of an institute’s plans, activities and accomplishments.
B. Purpose of Institute Evaluations
1. To provide institutes with information to assist in improving the quality of research,
programs and activities;
2. To provide information to senior university administrators and Deans to guide the
allocation of resources;
3. To assess the achievement and revision of goals of the institute in relation to their ‘added
value’ to the University of Calgary.
C. Self Appraisal Report
The Self Appraisal report must evaluate and assess the quality and describe the purpose and the
scope of the institute. It should describe the range of criteria on which the institute is to be
The Self Appraisal Report should address the following points:
• Alignment of the institute with the Academic Plan;
• Review of plans and activities for the period under review;
• Success in meeting goals outlined in its charter;
• The success of the institute in ‘adding value’ to the University of Calgary;
• Utilization of resources (human, physical and financial);
• Definition of indicators that provide evidence of quality in research, education and
The University of Calgary guidelines for self-assessment are broad in scope, so that each
institute can emphasize those aspects most relevant to its research and associated activities. The
review will typically cover the limited term of the institute.
Under each heading are areas suggested for discussion. In some cases a topic may fit just as well
under another heading. It is not necessary to repeat information in several sections and, unless
stated otherwise, it will be up to the institute to decide where to incorporate information into the
Self Appraisal Report.
In the Self Appraisal Report, attention should be given to describing and explaining core features
that make the work of the institute unique and necessary, evaluating the effectiveness of
initiatives to achieve excellence and prescribing additional initiatives to enhance quality. Key
characteristics of this report will include identification of core features of the institute, balanced
and critical reviews of strengths and weaknesses, systematic representation of different
perspectives (faculty, staff, students, affiliated bodies) and an explicit sense of what the institute
aspires to become. The report should also discuss the goals outlined in Raising Our Sights.
The review of institutes will be aligned with the unit reviews of complementary departments and
faculties wherever possible; supplementary data and modifications may be required.
As experience is gained with the self appraisals, changes may be made to the summaries,
explanations and suggestions outlined here.
Guidelines for Self Appraisal Reports
• Date institute established
• Charter of the institute (copy of original charter should be attached as Appendix A)
• Strategic Plan: goals of the institute and its relationship to Faculty and University goals
(alignment to the Academic Plan), defining characteristics, and priority activities (copy of
the institute’s strategic plan should be attached as Appendix B)
• Achievements in relation to its own charter, objectives and functions
• Visibility of the institute and its reputation locally, nationally and internationally
• Previous institute reviews, where applicable - main findings, conclusions and
recommendations, actions taken.
• Process used to prepare the Self Appraisal, including role of faculty, administration, staff,
2. Institute Organization and Human Resources
• Administrative positions and the terms/mandates involved
• Reporting structures, including support staff
• Number and type of full-time, part-time and adjunct appointments
• Credentials of all current affiliated scholars, faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and
graduate students (include the curriculum vitae of each in Appendix D). CVs do not have
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to conform to a specific format but should be consistent. The CVs should only cover the
period of the review.
• Technical support staff – profile and budget implications
• Other support staff – profile and budget implications
3. Research and Scholarly Activity
• Areas of specialization and strength
• Associated research units; linkages with other national and international institutes
• Awards, honors and recognition for faculty, staff and students
• Connections, where appropriate, between research and teaching
• Collaborative grants and projects
• Memoranda of agreement or exchange agreements
• Patents, commercial products, intellectual property
• Funding received
• Other indicators of research and scholarly activity
4. Professional and Community Service, related to discipline or professional activities
Much of the detail for this section may be covered in the CVs of faculty (Appendix D). If
so, then the unit may wish to highlight and summarize these items and refer to the CVs
• Service to government, professional or disciplinary associations, such as elected officers,
journal editors, board members, policy input, etc.
• Service as invited reviewers or committee members for national and international
• Service to other units or research centers at University of Calgary or elsewhere
• Community, industry and government awareness; press reference
5. Education and Training
Not all of the following items may be required. Items may need separate headings or be
combined within other sections of the Self Appraisal report.
• Participation in academic programs or other teaching activities
• Relationship of institute goals to academic programs
• Cooperation with education goals of other institutes, departments, faculties, and
• Scholarships and awards available
• Post-graduation activities of students/trainees
6. Financial Support
The main purpose of this section is to show the level of support provided by the operating
budget and to allow the institute the opportunity to highlight support from external sources.
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This is the appropriate section to indicate any challenges with infrastructure funding and
initiatives taken with new funding. The institute may choose to discuss use of discretionary
monies and the impact on the institute.
• Change in operating funds over time
• Number and type of competitive granting awards
• External sources of support; private, public, industry, government
• Scholarships, teaching and research assistantships provided by the unit
• Progress towards financial self-sufficiency
7. Physical Resources
• Space: faculty and staff offices, project space, social space
• Shared facilities and equipment with other units, faculties and universities
• Library resources
• Laboratory space and equipment, computers, etc.
8. Five Year Plan
• Initiatives and activities for the next five years, with reference to institute goals and the
Academic Plan. SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) may
be incorporated here
• Cooperation with other institutes, faculties and universities
• Collaboration with business, industry, NGOs, etc.
9. Additional Issues
Material not addressed in any of the above headings.
10. Self Appraisal Report Appendices
Appendix A The Charter/Mission Statement of the institute from its establishment
Appendix B Current Strategic Plan
Appendix C Annual reports and financial reports for the period under review
Appendix D Curriculum vitae of full-time, Board-appointed faculty members
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D. Institute Review Team
The objective of the review is to evaluate the activities and accomplishments of the institute,
relative to its charter and the University of Calgary’s Academic Plan, with reference to the
factors that contribute to excellence. This evaluation should be made based on the Self Appraisal
Report, the site visit by the Institute Review Team, interviews, data and statistics, and any other
Specific areas to address include:
1. An assessment of the quality of the institute. What are its strengths and weaknesses?
What is your evaluation of the institute’s strategic plan and its plans to advance it?
2. Is the institute fulfilling an important mandate? Should their goals be narrowed or
broadened? What is the value of the institute to the University of Calgary?
3. An evaluation of the institute’s performance in relation to its initial charter
4. How does the institute compare to similar institutes nationally and internationally? Be as
specific as possible. How does the institute compare to related units on campus?
5. Does the research done by the institute have a significant impact, commensurate with the
size of the institute?
6. Comment, as appropriate, on the institute’s contribution to education and teaching.
7. Are the excellence of faculty and staff members and the range of their expertise adequate
to provide intellectual leadership and challenge?
8. Are the facilities, space, and other resources adequate to support the institute’s programs?
9. Provide recommendations for improvement and other brief comments as appropriate.
What redirection of available resources, or new resources, would be required to make the
institute's research and programs significantly better?
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