Who: David Stone, Ph. D., Chief Research Officer
Where: Oakland University
Number of years in Research Development: 12
Length of NORDP membership: 8 years
When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?
In 2005, when I was working in Europe but planning to come to Northern Illinois University as director of sponsored projects, I did an environmental scan in Europe and the US to better understand the needs of faculty with respect to external funding. On the basis of that scan, I saw that faculty at mid-tier institutions like NIU needed assistance with what I call positioning (strengthening their standing in the literature, as researchers, and as grant writers) in order to compete with their colleagues who were selected out of grad school by larger research universities. On that basis, I created a hybrid job that I called research development specialist, a single role that handled the standard pre-award requirements, but who also worked very closely with faculty to strengthen their positioning prior to (and then throughout) their efforts are seeking funding. I am now the chief research officer at Oakland University, where I have made research development integral to our office.
What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?
I had been discussing my new model of RD with Holly before the gathering that led to the founding of NORDP. I presented at the first meeting and have, I think at all subsequent meetings, and was asked to serve on the board in 2012. I have been on the board ever since, including a stint as president in 2014-15. I have served on numerous committees in that time, and in 2015, I founded NORD with the goal of establishing research development not just as a profession, but also as a field of research, providing an opportunity for scholars both within and outside NORDP to create new knowledge based on the work we do in RD and the role it plays in higher education, in science, in economic development, in technology advancement, in knowledge mobilization, and elsewhere.
What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?
In my years in NORDP, and especially through the board, I have made a number of very strong connections that I have come to rely on in my work. Having served as president, I find that I can call any university in the country when I have a question or need some feedback, and my requests are always welcomed.
What inspired you to run for a position and serve on the NORDP board?
Back in 2010, when we were first talking about whether research development was a coherent thing, something that could be recognized as a profession, it was less clear whether people working in models like mine at NIU would be understood to be doing research development. At that point in time, most people connected to the movement were working in very large universities on very large projects. So, when I was asked to be on the board, and again when I was asked to run for president, I made it clear that core to my mission would be to ensure that the kinds of RD that are carried out at smaller schools and that often involve research admin work as well as RD would be valued, recognized, and represented in NORDP. So during the bylaws revisions in 2013-14, I ensured that there would always be seats on the board for representatives from PUIs, mid-level schools, and minority serving institutions. I am very heartened by the fact that the vast majority of the growth in NORDP membership since 2012 has been in these kinds of institutions.
What initiative are you most excited about in your role as a board member?
I continue to be very excited about the prospects for NORD. Last year we partnered with InfoReady to offer small grant awards to investigators interested in conducting research on (or about) research development. InfoReady has committed $30,000 for three years of pilot funding for these awards in order to kick start RD as a field of study. Unlike research administration, which uses a static body of knowledge to support the work of its professionals, RD professionals always work strategically and contextually, and so need a living, breathing, always developing literature that they can draw from like professionals do in other strategic fields like management or healthcare. Helping launch RD as a field is a complex undertaking, but it plays to my strengths as an interdisciplinary philosopher of science, and so I very much enjoy it and am excited for the day when RD is studied by disciplines outside of us who are examining our contributions to larger issues in higher education, science policy, science funding, faculty development, networked industrial policy, and other issues that are shaping our future.
Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee
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