2016 Conference Cameo: Donna Scott Tilley

In the weeks preceding the NORDP Annual Conference in Orlando, we’ll feature “Conference Cameos” on the blog. Conference Cameos are first-person perspectives submitted by registered Conference attendees. You can look forward to seeing these fellow RD professionals at the Conference!

Don’t forget – registration fees increase on March 1. Secure your Early Bird discount by registering for the Conference today.

Who: Donna Scott Tilley, PhD, Assistant Provost and ProfessorDonna Scott Tilley, Texas Woman's University
Where: Texas Woman’s University
Number of years in research development: 2 years
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1

I took the position as Interim Assistant Provost for my university with the intent of going back to my teaching role when the university hired a permanent person. After about 6 months as interim, I started to really love the RD work. I applied for the permanent position and was delighted to be appointed. I oversee our Research and Sponsored Programs office. I work with the team to make sure we are using our limited resources in the best way possible to maximize faculty success in research. I work with individual faculty to help them plan their program of research, facilitate collaborations between and among faculty, and advocate for research with administration. When I started this position, our Director of Operations suggested membership in NORDP right away – she said it would be a great source of support and information, and she was right!

After attending my first NORDP conference last year in Bethesda, I was convinced that this would be one of my most valuable professional development tools. I went to the Regional meeting at the conference and was immediately greeted by colleagues from other universities in my area. It was so great to hear what other universities were doing and make connections. I now reach out to these colleagues when I have a question or concern, to hear their perspectives. In addition, the conference sessions I attended were perfect for me – many provided foundational information, and others were thought-provoking and helpful for long term planning about improving what we do. For example, my university has purchased resources that we first learned about at the conference, and I’ve changed our internal competition procedures based on sessions I attended.

Because of my great experience at my first conference, I am bringing several office staff to Orlando for this year’s conference. I am looking forward to the networking and the sessions – there is so much to learn about this job!

My advice to first-time conference attendees is: Don’t sit with the same people at every session – mix it up and meet new people. Go to your regional group meeting and talk to people. Don’t skip sessions, even if you think they might not be directly applicable to your institution. Even if they don’t directly apply, there will be some little pearl of wisdom you can use. Have fun!


We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at rdconf@nordp.org.


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