The History of the Center for Applied Research
At Central Piedmont Community College
The Center for Applied Research (the Center) opened its doors in March 2004 and is one of few fully self-supporting research centers housed in a community college in the United States. The Center is housed within the Planning and Research unit at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2003, the Director, Terri Manning, submitted a proposal to the CPCC Services Corporation (the entrepreneurial arm of the College and a separate 501(c)3) to receive start-up funds to open the Center.
The Center started with one full-time employee and supplemental staff from the College’s Planning and Research Department. The original proposal indicated that the Services Corp funds would be spent to supplement the salary of Center staff on top of the contracts they would receive throughout their first three years in business (2004-2007). The proposal was conservative, estimating $56,000 in contract in the 2004-05 year, $75,000 in the 2005-06 year and $93,750 in the 2006-07 year. During the 2006-07 year, the Center actually brought in $404,000 in contracts with $350,000 in receivables.
As the number of contracts grew, so did the number of staff. In 2004 there was one full-time employee and today there are four, multiple part-time employees (based on projects) and a split/shared salary for the director who is also the Associate Vice President for Institutional Research. Because the Center sits in the Planning and Research unit at Central Piedmont Community College, they often utilize research and evaluation staff on Center projects. The Center has also used faculty from both CPCC and the local university.
During the first three years in business, the Center received many interesting contracts. Some of those included: projects for Chambers of Commerce, economic impact studies for businesses, feasibility studies for hospitals, housing/homeless projects for housing agencies, program evaluations for local and state initiatives (K-12 programs run by outside agencies), consulting work on various topics, a national hosted institute, topical research studies for multiple agencies, strategic planning, and various research and survey work for other colleges and universities. When the Center began its work in 2004, staff members received multiple requests for proposals from agencies wanting studies done. As time has passed, the Center is asked more and more for sole proposals (no one else being considered).
The Center does research studies, evaluations of programs and services, provides consulting and training services and host an Annual Institute on Best Practices in Institutional Effectiveness. The Center has worked with local institutions and agencies in Mecklenburg County, across the state and across the nation. Projects have been funded by multiple national programs including the National Science Foundation, Health and Human Services, Achieving the Dream, HUD and Title III within the US Department of Education.