Office of the President

Oversight of Complementary Units (including Campus Centers and Institutes); Supersedes EM 19-026

Executive Memorandum 20-019 June 25, 2020

From: Gayle E. Hutchinson, President   

Subject: Oversight of Complementary Units (including Campus Centers and Institutes); Supersedes EM 19-026

Upon the recommendation of the Academic Senate and the concurrence of the Provost, I approve the Oversight of Complementary Units (including Campus Centers and Institutes) policy, effective immediately.

Oversight of Complementary Units (including Campus Centers and Institutes)

This Executive Memorandum (EM) establishes policies and procedures for the approval and oversight of all Complementary Units (CUs), including campus centers and institutes (CCI), on the California State University, Chico (Chico State) campus, and creates the Complementary Units Review Committee (CURC). These policies and procedures incorporate the Chancellor’s Office Coded Memo AA-2014-18 (Centers and Institutes: Guidelines Replacing Executive Order 751), and are consistent with other applicable CSU and campus policies.

This policy covers the process and procedure for establishing, reviewing, suspending, and discontinuing CUs. This policy also recognizes the significant positive impact CUs can have on Chico State’s operations and reputation, as well as the importance of procedures and processes regarding the effective and responsible management of CUs. CUs, and those engaged in CU-related work, must comply with all CSU-specific policy memoranda and directives, as well as state and federal regulations. 


This policy encompasses the approval and oversight of all campus CUs at Chico State.

CUs include campus centers and institutes, symphonies, museums, ecological preserves/reserves, councils, consortia, or similar organizations within the university that support Chico State’s academic mission in both academic and non-academic areas of the university. This policy applies to all CUs currently established as well as those developed in the future.

This policy does not apply to system-wide affinity groups, state or federal centers governed by their authority, nor campus central administrative and service units.


This policy (including responsibilities and procedures) is organized by the following sections: 1) Definitions; 2) CU Functions; 3) Oversight; 4) Complementary Unit Review Committee (CURC); 5) CU Proposal Requirements and Structure; 6) CU Review, Reporting, Continuation and Discontinuation; and 7) Appendices.


Complementary Unit

A complementary unit is an organization within or affiliated with Chico State that is relatively independent from the university’s existing units or departments. Formed to enhance the university, complementary units have an established and articulated distinct mission, budget, and program goals.

In addition to the above, Complementary Units must:

  1. Directly or indirectly benefit Chico State students, faculty and staff.
  2. Serve a substantially different purpose than one already fulfilled by an established college or other unit.
  3. Be aligned with the mission and strategic plan of the college or other unit that oversees the CU and of the university.
  4. Not utilize state resources for private gain.
  5. Not be in conflict with any applicable CSU-specific, state, or federal regulations and policies.

As appropriate, Complementary Units:

  1. May be provided some initial support in the form of assigned time, office space, equipment, staff support, etc., although it is expected that most CUs will generate enough external funding to become largely self-sustaining. Ongoing State General Fund budget may be appropriate when the functions of a CU directly benefit the academic mission of the CU’s unit and/or the University strategic plan.
  2. Coordinate external funding support through University Advancement and Chico State Enterprises (CSE).

 Campus Centers and Institutes

Campus Centers and Institutes (CCI) are a subset of complementary units. Executive Order AA-2014-18 provides a general definition and scope of CCIs. Chico State CCIs are complementary units that also have a strong connection to the external community and maintain a positive national reputation.

Complementary Unit Administrator

The university administrator delegated by the President or designee, usually a dean, responsible for the operations of a CU.


An individual or individuals (may be co-directors) appointed by the CU Administrator to manage CU operations. The position description / job duties may vary depending on the CU. In some cases, this position may be called an Executive Director, at the CU Administrator’s discretion.


Functions of a CU will vary and may include:

  1. Providing opportunities for professional development for faculty and staff through teaching, research, scholarly and creative activities, and public service.
  2. Fostering and facilitating interdisciplinary efforts among disciplines, departments and across colleges, in addition to other public and/or private partners.
  3. Providing a clearinghouse for information of interest to professionals, including conducting workshops and conferences for continuing education.
  4. Enhancing the curriculum by facilitating and supplementing the academic experience of students.
  5. Other functions as stated in the original CU approval documents (e.g., Executive Memorandum or CU Establishment Application), or as approved following a continuation review.

CUs do not confer degrees or offer for-credit academic degree instruction, but may support those units with such authority. Faculty may participate in and serve as Directors of CUs, but CUs cannot serve as the home department for faculty. CSU staff and administration may be affiliated with and serve as Director of a CU.


The President is delegated the responsibility for approval and oversight of all CUs in accordance with existing CSU policy (see ICSUAM 1000.0, Delegation of Authority to Obligate the University, CSU Policy Manual for Contracting and Procurement). The President may delegate oversight authority to the Provost or other Vice President, who may further delegate responsibility and authority to a CU Administrator (e.g., the Dean of a college) from the unit within which the CU operates. The CU Administrator is responsible for and has authority over the activities, management, and finances of the CU.


This EM establishes a Complementary Unit Review Committee (CURC), a committee of the Academic Senate, to meet on a regular basis (or as needed and requested by the President, Provost or Vice Presidents, or Academic Senate) during the academic year. The charge of the CURC is to make recommendations about establishment, continuation, modification, merging, suspension, or discontinuation of Complementary Units.

When making their recommendations, the CURC will consider (but not be limited to) the following:

  • Alignment of CU activities with the mission and strategic plans of the CSU and Chico State.
  • Financial operations, including all sources and uses of funds, and financial sustainability of the CU.
  • Activities and accomplishments of the CU, in context of its mission and goals.


The CURC shall be chaired by a faculty member of the committee, who, pending the university and/or Academic Affairs’ budget, committee workload, and effectiveness in the position, will be granted release time and will include the following additional members who, except when otherwise specified, will have two-year appointments with the potential for renewal.

Members may be reappointed for up to four consecutive years, and thereafter be reappointed after at least two years off the CURC. Within each category of membership as detailed below, member terms shall be staggered, and initial one-year terms will be allowable to ensure staggered terms. The chair will be a faculty member with at least one year of experience on the committee voted upon and elected each year by the members of the committee.

  • Two faculty appointed by the Academic Senate Executive Committee, with staggered two-year terms.
  • Two CU Directors, elected by the CU directors (in the case of co-Directors, only one vote per CU). CU Directors may not serve during the year that their seven-year reviews occur, and so will not be eligible to be elected to that term.
  • One Dean or Associate Dean appointed by the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee.
  • A member from the Risk Management Unit appointed by the Vice President for Business and Finance or designee. This member may have an unlimited term.
  • Two benefited employees of Chico State Enterprises (not Directors or co-Directors), elected by the non-Director benefited CU employees of Chico State Enterprises. CU members may not serve during the year that their seven-year reviews occur, and so will not be eligible to be elected to that term.
  • The CEO of Chico State Enterprises or their designee. This member may have an unlimited term.

All CURC members are expected to have sufficient expertise in financial analysis to participate usefully in the committee’s deliberations. As needed, the CURC chair may appoint ad hoc members to provide additional expertise for a defined period of time. No member of the committee may vote in decisions about a CU in which they, their department, or their college is affiliated.


Authorization to Plan and Establish

An individual or group that has reason to create a new CU should develop the idea informally with potential collaborators, other CUs with similar missions, University and Academic Senate Leadership, and relevant faculty and administrators. More specifically, in advance of the formal process, the proposed CU director or CU administration should alert and provide the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs office with sufficient information about the proposed CU. Pending this initial consultation, the proposed CU Director and associated CU Administrator will submit a proposal for a new CU to the CURC through a CU Establishment Application (see Appendix A) that shall include the following:

  • Relevance of the proposed CU’s mission, goals, and objectives to the mission of Chico State, the CSU, the North State, and/or other key stakeholders.
  • Description of how the proposed CU differs from other existing CUs and units at Chico State.
  • An explanation of why the proposed CU’s mission, goals and objectives cannot be met within the existing university structures and any proposed relationships among them.
  • Expected organizational structure, including, when appropriate, the composition of the CU’s Advisory Board, a description of the personnel needed and their responsibilities (including the name of the proposed director).
  • College or other administrative unit in which the CU will be housed. In cases of collaborative CUs, a lead administrative unit that will have authority and responsibility for the CU must be specified.
  • Proposed timeline for establishing the CU. If a time-limited CU is proposed (e.g., one established only for the duration of certain external funding), provide estimated ‘sunset date.’ If on-going, estimated funding needed to initiate and sustain the proposed CU for seven years and potential sources of funding during that period. Identify specifically what campus resources will be necessary to establish and maintain the CU.
  • Estimated space, facilities, and equipment needs and plans for meeting these needs.
  • An assessment of any actual or potential risks involved as well as a plan of how to manage such risks.
  • If relevant, information about the inter-institutional nature of the proposed CU with regard to mission, leadership, activities, funding, or other aspects.

The CURC will evaluate the Establishment Application and determine the most appropriate review and oversight bodies (in particular, relevant administration and faculty committees or members). At the conclusion of this period, the CURC will recommend to the Academic Senate whether or not the new CU should go forward. The Academic Senate will then consider the proposal as an introductory and then action item, and make a recommendation to the President. The President or designee will make the final decision regarding the establishment of a new CU.

Director/Advisory Board

The CU Administrator, typically a college Dean, is responsible for and has authority over the programmatic, fiscal, and personnel recommendations or decisions associated with the CU. The CU Administrator will appoint a CU Director (may be co-Directors) who will be broadly responsible for managing the Center’s mission, finances, personnel, and activities. The CU Administrator shall review the qualifications of the proposed Director in the CU Establishment Application (Appendix

  1. A) in advance of any decision. The CU Administrator has authority to appoint and remove a CU Director. The Director may appoint associate or assistant directors, subject to approval of the CU Administrator.

In consultation with the CU Administrator and, if applicable, University Advancement, the CU Director may establish and maintain an Advisory Board whose charge is to identify opportunities for the CU, provide guidance for the CU’s future, and help establish opportunities for productive networking. The Advisory Board shall have a minimum of three members, at least one of which should be an external stakeholder (e.g., public, private, or community entity). The Advisory Board will meet at least once each year and the minutes will become part of the Annual Report (instructions detailed below).

The CU Director will:

  • Consult with the CU Administrator;
  • Report to and serve at the discretion of the CU Administrator;
  • Coordinate programmatic activities;
  • Manage financial matters, including sources of income, budget, and expenditures, in accordance with appropriate policies and sound practices;
  • If appropriate, convene periodic Advisory Board meetings;
  • Respond to assessment and administrative program review processes;
  • Ensure the viability of the CU in meeting its objectives; and
  • Abide by the policies and procedures of the CSU and of the campus, as well as all state and federal regulations.

The Advisory Board will advise the CU and CU Director on programmatic direction(s), but will not have decision-making authority. In addition, the CU Administrator or designee oversees CU management, such as appointing and staggering terms of Advisory Board members, approving bylaws (see Appendix C for example of CU bylaws), formulating Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) or other governing documents, and general operations of the CU. 

The CU Administrator will conduct an annual review of each CU Director; the appropriate format will depend on the Director’s position (CSE employee, faculty, administrator, other).


Annual Report

The Director of the CU or designee will compose an annual report by October 1 of each year. The CU Administrator for each CU will submit the Annual Report to the CURC by November 1 of each year. As necessary, the CURC provides feedback by April 1 of the next year to the CU Director. The Annual Report shall describe how the CUs activities have accomplished or contributed to the CU’s mission.  Appendix B includes the format for reporting.

Financial accounting must include:

  • CU income (e.g., grants/contracts, fee for service, program income, fixed price work, donations, and state funds).
  • Expenditure information for the most recent fiscal year including personnel salaries and wages, operating expenses, equipment, travel, contractors, other costs, Facilities and Administrative costs, surplus use, and balances.
  • MOUs with campus or outside partners.
  • Any audit findings associated with the CU including but not limited to CSE, UF, and University audits.
  • CUs supported by CSU Chico general funds should explain how those funds meet the academic mission of the CSU, Chico unit providing the funds.
  • The Annual Report shall provide a financial report of the CU as detailed in Appendix B, including income, expenses, university contract or grant activity.

Seven-year Self Study of CUs (Continuation Review)

Active CUs must undergo regular review to ensure ongoing alignment with departmental, college and/or institutional missions and resources, success in accomplishing stated objectives, and sound fiscal status and practices. Management of an established CU includes monitoring and reviewing CU activities and plans through periodic contact and reporting, and modifying CU activities and plans as required. A CU must undergo a Continuation Review at least once every seven (7) years. This section describes the review; Appendix E provides a template.

Additional or more frequent major evaluations may be necessary on direction of the President or designee, the CU’s charter, bylaws, or funding agency.

To initiate the Continuation (Seven-Year) Review process, the CU Director will complete a self-study, using the Appendix E template with the ability for adjustments if they are mutually agreeable CU Administrator and CU Director. The purpose of the self-study is to collect data related to the CU’s mission, goals, and objectives, with specific attention to the reason for establishing the CU. The self-study will focus on the following:

  • Mission, goals, and objectives, and their relationship to those of the university and to the university’s strategic plan;
  • The degree to which the mission of the CU is realistic, feasible, and capable of meeting the needs of the university and wider community;
  • The extent to which the CU’s mission, goals, and activities are distinct from other CUs or university units;
  • Successes and ongoing efforts in achieving the CU’s mission, goals, and objectives;
  • Significant accomplishments in the past seven years in research, instruction, public service and engagement, and/or other relevant productivity;
  • How and to what extent the CU promotes interdisciplinary work;
  • University and community partnerships (if applicable);
  • Client feedback as appropriate to the mission of the CU;
  • Quality and quantity of scholarly and/or public service activity by faculty, professional staff, and students;
  • Organizational structure and effectiveness of leadership, including number and types of personnel and administrative resources;
  • Summary budget data for past seven years, including amount and sources of funding, changes in funding over the years, number and types of grants and contracts, and administrative costs;
  • Responsible fiscal oversight demonstrating that the CU is being managed properly;
  • Adequacy of programs and initiatives in fulfilling research, instruction, and/or public service missions and meeting the needs of constituents and stakeholders;
  • Quality of the student experience and success in career placement (if applicable);
  • Quality of institutional relationships;
  • Adequacy of funding and facilities; for recently-established CUs, congruence of current budget with budget proposed at inception;
  • Description and amount of space currently occupied;
  • Acquisition of equipment, instrumentation, or other tangible assets of a permanent or semi-permanent nature with a value in excess of $5,000;
  • Vision and plans for the future of the CU, including program improvement plans.

The CU Director or designee completes the self-study and submits it to the CU Administrator, who will provide feedback and suggestions. Then, the CU Administrator submits the self-study along with any feedback to the CURC, which will review the materials and develop recommendations. The CU Administrator will have an opportunity to respond to the CURC’s recommendations, suggest changes and correct factual errors. The CURC will compile all recommendations and make them available to the Academic Senate along with an Executive Summary regarding (1) the CU’s continued viability, (2) recommendations for changes or improvements, and (3) a timeline for the next review. The CURC, the CU administrator, and/or the Provost may recommend renewal, suspension, or discontinuation of the CU. Upon completion of the review, the Academic Senate will submit a recommendation to the President or designee, who will make the ultimate decision on the CU’s status, in accordance with CSU policy. If the President or designee grants continuation to the CU, its term will be extended for a period of up to seven additional years, at the President’s or designee’s discretion, before it must submit another review. The President or designee communicates the decision to relevant campus parties. The Provost’s Office or Academic Senate will centrally archive all review materials.

Reporting Concerns about CUs

Individuals who have concerns about the operations of a CU should first bring those concerns to the CU Director, unless the concern is about the CU Director, in which case individuals should bring those concerns to the CU Administrator. If the individual does not find resolution with the CU Director, the next step is to report the concern to the CU Administrator. Generally, the CU Administrator will have up to one month to respond to complaints. Upon finding a concern to be valid, the CU Administrator may respond to address it in multiple ways, including replacing the Director and/or recommending suspension or discontinuation of the CU following the process below. If the individual is dissatisfied with the CU Administrator’s response, the next step is to file a formal written complaint to the CU Administrator’s supervisor (normally the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs). Unless the concern is specifically about the CU Administrator, the CU Administrator’s supervisor will not accept complaints that have not first been brought to the CU Administrator. The CU Administrator’s supervisor may forward the complaint back to the CURC for their review and recommendation. The CU Administrator’s supervisor or the CURC will then send all materials to the President or designee for final determination. Nothing in this paragraph shall prevent individuals from submitting whistleblower complaints in accordance with Executive Order 1115. Complementary units overseen by the CSE as well as CSE employees are bound by CSE’s policies.

Suspended or Discontinuation of CUs (see Appendix D)

A CU may be suspended or discontinued for a variety of reasons, including lack of fiscal resources for sustainability, termination of a supporting grant or award, lack of alignment with departmental, college, or institutional missions or objectives, or other extraordinary circumstances. Following a seven-year review or upon a formal written request from the CU Administrator explaining the need to suspend or eliminate the CU, the CURC may recommend to the Academic Senate that the CU be suspended or discontinued. The Academic Senate will consider the recommendation, and make a concurring or dissenting recommendation to the President or designee. The President or designee may discontinue a CU for any of the reasons or circumstances mentioned above, at their discretion. The President or designee may also place the CU on probation with the stipulation that the CU correct deficiencies within a specific period of time.

The CU Administrator will develop a plan for phasing out or reinstating the CU to allow for orderly termination or transfer of contractual obligations. The phase-out period may not be for more than one year after the end of the academic year in which the President or designee determines the CU should be discontinued.

Merging of CUs

CUs may be merged with one another for a variety of reasons. While new CUs need to follow the process for establishment as outlined above, existing CUs may be merged through a less extensive process. Similar to the process outlined earlier in this document above for the Discontinuation of CUs, the CU Administrator(s) will make a formal written request to the CURC that justifies and supports the merging of specific CUs. The CURC may then recommend to the Academic Senate that the CUs be merged into a new CU. The Academic Senate will consider the recommendation, and make a concurring or dissenting recommendation to the President or designee who makes the final determination.

Other Applicable Policies

This coded memorandum does not supersede any other applicable policies that apply to CUs, including the Integrated CSU Administrative Manual (ICSUAM 13680.0), coded memoranda, or any other applicable CSU policies.


Appendix A: CU Establishment Application (PDF)

Appendix B: Annual Report (PDF)

Appendix C: CU Bylaws (PDF)

Appendix D: CU Suspension or Discontinuation Application (PDF)

Appendix E: Seven-Year Review Template (PDF)

To view the pdf version of EM 20-019 (PDF).