Research Administration Organizational Models for PUIs

Research Administration Organizational Models for PUIs

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Hello, I’m Kris Monahan. I’m the Director
of Sponsored Projects and Research Compliance at Providence College.
I’m also an NCURA Peer Reviewer. I’m here to talk with you today about a question that
many predominantly undergraduate institutions, or PUIs, ask about
and that’s about organizational models that are effective at small institutions.
There are a number of organizational models. Let’s talk about those. There’s a
single organizational model, where both pre- and post-award are in a single
office. In some institutions, that single office may be in Academic Affairs and
other institutions that single office where pre- and post- is combined may be in a division of Finance and Business or Finance and Administration. Still
another place where you might see a single operation, particularly in a
growing or very small institution, is in Institutional Advancement,
Development, [or] Corporate Foundation Relations, where you have both pre- and post- operating out of one of those divisions. So that’s the single [office] model. Increasingly what we’re seeing is that more and more institutions have a
hybrid approach or a hybrid model, where pre-award is happening in one division
of the college or university and post-award is happening in another. Some
examples that you might see with this hybrid operation, I think probably the
most prevalent that we’ve seen in predominantly undergraduate institutions,
is where pre-award is happening out of Academic Affairs and post-award is
happening out of Business and Finance or Finance and Administration division. [This is a] very popular model; popular in that on the academic side they have contacts
with faculty and can speak with faculty and understand the
academics in terms of the grant development. And on the post-award side
that level of expertise exists in the Business Office, and that level of
authority. It’s a very popular model but you can also see the hybrid model
where you have post- award in Finance and Business and pre-award
in Corporate and Foundation Relations or Institutional Advancement / Development,
in that division handling mostly pre-award and even still you may find a
hybrid approach where all college grants – Academic Affairs, Corporate and
Foundation Relations – all are functioning as an Office of College Grants, either
sitting in Institutional Advancement or sitting in Academic Affairs with Finance
and Business. So with all these varieties of models, what works best? Well, of course, it depends. It depends on a number of things. It depends on culture of the
institution; it depends on expertise at the institution, where does that
expertise lies; and, of course, history where the institution […] put
authority and structures. It’s complicated in terms of where these
things might sit. There’s certainly no one best model. I’ve heard someone say, “if you’ve seen one sponsored programs office, you’ve seen one sponsored
programs office,” and that’s absolutely true.
I think what’s most important is that the model fits the institution, the
context, the culture, the individuals, and the expertise. So, the key to a hybrid
model, though, is when you have those split roles is that there’s a high
degree of communication across those areas. And that’s not just informal
communication; we really like to see intentionality and some formal routine
communications across those areas to build the relationships and bridges and
we see when we have that intentionality the hybrid model actually
works really well, for small institutions and and for large institutions alike. But
that communication is key; so if you’re looking to establish a sponsored
research office, re-establish a sponsored research office, or just aren’t sure what
you want to do in terms of your organizational structure, it’s important
to really do an internal assessment of where your strengths, your abilities, your
expertise, your culture, where all of that lies and also to look at the sponsored
programs enterprise as a whole. There are lots of individuals who may not have
sponsored research titles at your institutions that have expertise that
can help support and drive and nurture the research support that you want to
provide to your faculty. I hope you enjoyed this very quick update on
organizational models at predominately undergraduate institutions. Thank you.

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