NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Strategic Use of Spaces for Research Development


  • Jasmin Patel, Assistant Vice President, Research Strategy, Saint Louis University
  • Julia Lane, Executive Director, Research Development, University of Chicago

Thanks to our session note-taker, Sarah Polasky!

Key points from the session. We learned: 

  • Session focused on physical space that has been designed and built for research development activities – physical infrastructure to change conversation on and off campus for research development purposes, benefits of the spaces, discussion about spaces in use by audience, successes, and future needs.
  • Entrepreneurial community spaces – collaboration spaces, coworking spaces, communal workspaces for diverse groups – open concept, relaxing, white boards, amenities (snacks, high speed internet), programming, opportunities to meet with investors.
  • 4 types of silos in academia – faculty-faculty; faculty-administrators; research-development/fundraising; industry-university.
  • Examples of spaces:
    • Faculty-Faculty: Neutral Space – Catalyst (UChicago, ARETE) – externally funded with low startup and maintenance costs ($100K; $200/mo); revamped a former tech store; lots of programming offered; research development staff co-located; open space/concept; coffee, wine, food; 3rd floor of bookstore; open to faculty primarily, potentially could expand to graduate students.
    • Faculty-Administrators: Increasing Proximity to VPR – ResearchNorth (St. Louis U.) – changing culture of research office and increasing accessibility; very low startup and maintenance ($20K; $160/mo; 525 sq. ft.); programming; intellectual resources (books); faculty can use it for meetings (use increasing) and lab meetings bring students to the space; snacks, coffee, beer; open door culture has increased casual interaction; VPR and Provost have dropped in on meetings; similar space has been requested for second campus – space has somewhat bridged a physical division between north and south campuses.
    • Research-Development/Fundraising: Philanthropic Space – Computer & Data Science Hub (UChicago) – very expensive ($ not disclosed) paid via a major naming gift and matched university funds; over 27k sq. ft.; houses computer science, computational resources, digital humanities; conceived as first floor of a traditional library.
    • Industry-University: Industry – Cortex (St. Louis U.) part of CIC space in St Louis – $5000 startup; rent $4500/mo; 440 sq. ft.; emphasis on community presence and partnership; required more internal advocacy (convince president); considering space versus personnel; two other universities were already present at the space when they joined; Technology Transfer for SLU also at this location; used for student business competitions.
  • Still trying to capture ROI for the spaces – new metrics that could be captured that could or should be considered – plus considering the potential – is there a long term plan or idea for these spaces?

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?      

  • Wide range of startup and maintenance costs.
  • Underutilization of space, often due to location, was echoed in comments from attendees.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenter(s)’ response?

  • How do these incubators calculate impact (e.g., number of jobs)? Count number of new companies, the number of jobs each, and number of jobs with co-located/nearby new companies (coffee shops, deli).
  • Were architects involved? Round tables somewhat force collaboration as an example, versus linear tables that allow isolation.
    • Catalyst space – yes. Designed spaces were too expensive and too corporate. Designed internally and was less expensive even with custom furniture. Feels more like a living room. New larger space will have designers involved but faculty want to maintain the feel of the catalyst space.
    • Cortex – used Ikea for renderings. Was initially too corporate but did use reconfigurable desks.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?       

  • Lots of audience participation and questions about both strategic planning for the space and functional, practical uses of the space. Many questions about use of space for students versus faculty.

New Member Cameo: Bill Layton

Welcome to NORDP: Bill Layton
Where: Colby College
Number of Years in Research Development: 14
Joined NORDP in: August 2017

What is your RD work?

Bill Layton

I serve as the Director of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs at Colby College, a liberal arts college in Maine. Our team works across many aspects of pre-award and post-award activity including idea generation, proposal development, budgets, and grants submissions for all divisions and programs, with an emphasis on developing research capacity. We manage award negotiation and acceptance, monitoring and tracking, reporting and compliance, as well as communication and outreach.

What is your professional background?

I have worked in a variety of settings on both sides of the grant process over many years. Before joining Colby I worked at larger, more research intensive universities (Princeton and Stanford) where I focused on building relationships with government agencies, independent foundations, and business enterprises. I also worked as the director of foundation relations at the United Nations Foundation, a UN affiliated organization funding international development aid projects around the globe. In the corporate world, I ran a technology product line at Hewlett Packard in Silicon Valley. I have additional experience working in foreign trade and commodity futures trading, and in software start-ups. Along my career, I earned an M.A. in International Relations and an MBA.

What attracted you to NORDP?

My initial exposure to NORDP was through the North East Regional meetings, and from there I decided to join the national organization. NORDP is an incredible network of research development professionals who are willing to work on shared challenges and to help each other grow in this ever-changing field. I have found NORDP to be an integral touchpoint for what’s happening in the field of research development.

How will your NORDP membership enhance your own career?

My career will naturally be enhanced as I share my knowledge and learn from others through the rich and adaptable resources and services of NORDP. Having access to ideas from peers around the world offers our team invaluable assistance as we expand our services to meet the needs of our campus.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee


NORDP 2018 Abstracts due Friday, 11/17

Abstracts for NORDP’s 10th Annual Research Conference are due next week on Friday, November 17th. This is the final deadline – there will not be another extension. If you have started a submission, don’t forget to complete it and hit send. The full announcement from Conference Co-Chairs Karen Eck and Kari Whittenberger-Keith can be found here. Some important details are highlighted below:

  • Click HERE to access the online proposal submission form. The Call for Abstracts document is also available for download on the conference home page.
  • Deadline for Proposals: Friday, November 17, 2017, 11:59 PM Pacific Time. The Program Committee intends to notify presenters by early January 2018.

Eight days left – get ’em in!

Michael Thompson
Conference Marketing Committee

NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Using Business Development Funnels to Stimulate Increases in Research Funding

Using Business Development Funnels to Stimulate Increases in Research Funding


  • Saundra Evans, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Services and Project Management, North Carolina A&T State University
  • Paul Tuttle, Director of Proposal Development, North Carolina A&T State University

Thanks to our session note-taker, Lucy Deckard!

Key points from the session. We learned: 

  • Universities often expect to see a steady linear growth in research expenditures; however, it’s not realistic to expect continuous linear growth. Instead, RD growth is similar to small business growth: i.e., it follows an S-curve. The business starts and grows quickly as they innovate, incorporate best practices, and improve. Then they stabilize or plateau. At this point, the business will need to find a new way to grow (e.g., a new market or product or strategy), which can then kick off a stage of rapid growth. Otherwise, the business may decline and ultimately fail. Similarly, North Carolina A&T saw their research expenditures grow rapidly as they established an RD office, learned from NORDP and elsewhere, and incorporated best practices. Then the recession hit, and they saw some decline They realized they had maxed out on the old business model ; they need to break out a new one! This was especially important since university leadership had set a goal of $85M in research expenditures (from the current ~$65M) by 2020.
  • NC A&T’s new business model incorporated five strategies: 1) reorganize academic units to better motivate and support research; 2) RD strategic hires; 3) diversify the funding portfolio to include more agencies and foundations, as well as contracts in addition to grants; 4) proactively pursue Federal funding; and 5) Employ business development (funding opportunity) funnels. To implement this new plan, they developed a logic model for how they would reach that $85M goal by creating and maintaining funding funnels at AT&T, following a logic model template provided by Tina Edgerly Campbell in her 2014 NORDP preconference workshop. Then, they distributed the logical model to faculty members so they understood what they were trying to accomplish. They also broke the goal down by college and provided concrete targets year by year – helped get the deans on board.
  • Applying the funnel concept to RD, you look at the what the funding rates are and how much you need to put into the top of the funnel to get the dollars you need at the bottom—how do they get to $85M? If you look at typical success rates for many agencies, they are single-digit or in the low teens. So if you assume 10% funding rate, that means they would have to submit $850M in proposals! Developing funding funnels: They realized they needed to identify core funding opportunities with a higher probability of funding and ensure submission of more competitive proposals. They pursued two main strategies: 1) Take a portfolio approach, identifying recurring funding opportunities with the highest hit rates, anticipating the next cycle, strengthening relationships with the Program Officers and starting working on proposals early (before they are officially announced); 2) identify growth opportunities (e.g., new opportunities and new funders, including foundations and industry,  and work with the new director of Corporate and Foundation Relations. This includes looking at contracts (e.g., DoD IDIQ and industry contracts) in addition to grants. Worked with faculty to make sure they understand expectations for contracts and that they felt confident they could deliver. Also added capacity in the Grants and Contracts department.
  • Helped faculty understand what they can do – worked with them to develop an individualized strategic funding plan (following a Strategic Funding Plan Informational Template provided by from Tina Campbell in her 2014 NORDP preconference workshop). Helps faculty work though what story they want to tell about their careers over the next 20 years (framed as their current situation, emerging or future directions, and professional goals) and then identify a matrix of funding opportunities that will allow them to make it happen. They articulate where they want to end up; for example, “I hope to become one of the go-to researchers in wearable sensors and smart devices in military and civilian environments in the next 15 – 20 years.” Then they get lots of help with finding funders working with their chairs, the RD office, and PIVOT. Before doing this Saundra and Paul talked to deans to gauge their level of commitment. Some chairs use this in their annual evaluation of their faculty. Roll-out of the strategic funding plans and market business development funnel ideas was very low key. Just assistance. Framed as, “we hope this can help you.”
  • Where are they now? Nearly 30 faculty now have individual strategic funding plans. Found that using the carrot approach works best. When faculty see other faculty get funded, and when they get tenure as a result of that success, that motivates them. There has been sharply increased interest and proposal activity. Looking at funding expenditures, NC A&T is on the upswing of the S-curve again, but it’s still early days. They hope to be back to report on more progress in the future.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?         

  • I had never thought of RD as being similar to a small business, but it makes sense.
  • I also hadn’t heard of the S-curve in the context of RD
  • I thought providing faculty with a formal strategic funding plan to help them explicitly map out their funding strategies in the context of their career goals is a great idea.
  • I also thought that using a logic model to communicate the RD strategy to faculty and deans was a really inspired idea.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? Examples: a website, database or software tool. We’ll link to resources on the blog.          

  1. Gov Net by Deltek – can find who has been funded on various contracts and identify RFPs for contracts as well as identifying RFPs before they are issued.
  2. Similarly, you can use PIVOT to identify funding opportunities before they are officially released by looking for opportunities that are labeled, “pending” rather “confirmed”. Look at the “pendings” and call the PO and ask about the likelihood that will be offered again.
  3. Not sure if these are publicly available, but Tina Edgerly Campbell’s templates for an RD logic model and for an individual strategic funding plan would be great resources if they are available.

What were the most interesting questions asked by audience members, and what were the presenter(s)’ responses?

Will senior faculty buy into the research funding strategic plan? Sometimes not. But often, they are in a position to start going for bigger team grants, and RD can help them with that. In the new College of Health & Human Services, they have been building faculty-driven micro-research clusters (not top-down) , which can help see these larger projects.

How do faculty get credit in team projects if they are a co-PI? NC A&T has changed the IDC share policy and they now provide credit on their record.

Questioner says they have a lot of initial interest from faculty about pursuing funding opportunities identified in advance, but faculty do not always follow-up. How do you deal with faculty who don’t follow up? From audience: She asks the faculty member, “When do you want me to follow up?” Sends email saying “ping”. Or may, say, “I’m just checking in – is there anything I can help you with?” But still have to expect that some faculty will not follow up.

How does this dovetail with other faculty development activities on campus? They tell faculty, “This is to help you better do the research piece. Talk to us.” They give out cards and make sure the faculty understand that their office is very accessible. In this way, the RD assistance is framed as faculty development and support.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?     

It’s interesting to note that the NC A&T RD office has been very careful to frame this as a service so it’s not seen as coercive. They emphasize a customer service culture.

Inaugural Meeting | Great Lakes Region

On Monday, October 23, 2017 more than 90 research development professionals participated in the inaugural meeting of the Great Lakes Region. The Ohio State University served as host for a meeting that began with a welcome from Caroline Whiteacre, Senior Vice President for Research, a keynote address on the “Economic Impact of Research” from Bruce Weinberg, Professor, Department of Economics. Participants then had a choice of three presentations per each of the five concurrent sessions. Almost every state in the region was present; we hope Wisconsin is able to participate the next time.

We invite you to view the meeting agenda and meeting materials. (Please note Ohio State’s institutional repository  – Knowledge Bank – will serve as an archive for this meeting; materials are available from those presenters that provided a license agreement.)

Meeting organizers included Jeff Agnoli, NORDP Treasurer, Jenna McGuire and Rebecca Momany, Translational Data Analytics Institute | Discovery Themes at The Ohio State University.

NORDP 2017 Conference Notes: Using Social Media to Further Research Development: On Campus, in your Professional Career, and for NORDP

Using Social Media to Further Research Development: On Campus, in your Professional Career, and for NORDP      


  • Rachel Dresbeck, Director of Research Development & Academic Communications, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Karen Fletcher, Director of Grants Resources & Services, Appalachian State University
  • Gretchen Kiser, Executive Director of the Research Development Office, University of California, San Francisco
  • Michael Thompson, Research Development Associate, University of New Hampshire

Thanks to our session note-taker!

Key points from the session. We learned:         

  • Social media can be used by RD professionals to strengthen office activities; better connect with researchers; and boost professional contacts. When selecting a platform to use, RD professionals should ask: What platforms are the faculty at my institution using? What platforms are my peers using?
  • Twitter is public and “busy” with a constantly changing feed. Hashtags can be helpful, but be careful about starting “new” hashtags, unless you are involved in a larger branding campaign. Twitter is useful for sharing upcoming office events/news and funding agency announcements/updates. When running a RD office Twitter account, it is important to be professional and not polarizing, as you are representing your institution at large.
  • Rachel Dresbeck’s institution, Oregon Health and Science University, held a session for faculty focused on social media for researchers. Participants created social media strategy plans for themselves, learned about measuring social media impact, social media presentation skills (updating headshots, considering top Google results, etc.), and how to find a community of other researchers.
  • LinkedIn allows RD professionals to find and connect with colleagues, create an interactive resume, read news from funding agencies, and engage with the greater NORDP community through chats, sharing resources, etc.
  • The session leaders provided attendees with a few fun “homework” assignments: to follow the NORDP blog; to connect via the official NORDP group on LinkedIn; and to follow NORDP on Twitter.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?          

Using Instagram for Research Development work was an idea that I hadn’t heard before. It was interesting to learn that at Karen Fletcher’s institution, Appalachian State University, this social media platform is preferred by the faculty members, especially those in the arts. Karen has used her RD office’s Instagram account to document programs on campus.

What resources did you discover at this presentation? Examples: a website, database or software tool. We’ll link to resources on the blog.          

Rachel Dresbeck mentioned that supplemental slides from Oregon Health and Science University’s very recent faculty social media coaching program could be made available to attendees/NORDP.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member, and what was the presenter(s)’ response?          

Audience Member Question: How do you find out which social media platform(s) your faculty members prefer to use to interact and receive RD information?

  • An annual survey disseminated to faculty can ask a social media preference question; this works best if the information is captured at a school-wide level.
  • Ask at workshops, programs, and faculty meetings: “How would you like to receive information from our office?”
  • Follow faculty members on Twitter, Instagram, etc.

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

It is important to consider larger institutional attitudes toward Twitter and social media platforms in general; at Michael Thompson’s institution (University of New Hampshire), there was a university-wide push to engage on Twitter; Gretchen Kiser’s institution (UC San Francisco) was concerned about branding and more hesitant toward strong engagement on social media at first. If your institution has a social media/communications team in place, it is good to be in touch regarding institutional attitudes, best practices, etc.