NORDP Liaison Report: Network of Academic Corporate Relations Officers (NACRO)

RD professionals and corporate relations officers advance research when they work together

Companies need things from universities: graduates, access to facilities, access to intellectual capital. Universities need things from companies: jobs for graduates, help with commercialization, funding.

Universities’ corporate relations officers help connect companies with universities, but they may lack deep knowledge of the research landscape. They may not know about the promising postdoctoral fellow’s innovation to transform the field, the unique core facility to address a testing need, or the multidisciplinary team to work with on a large proposal. That’s why research development and corporate relations make a great team: their complementary expertise is a natural area for collaboration to strengthen the research enterprise.

This is where the relationship between NORDP and NACRO comes in.

Don Takehara, NORDP’s NACRO Liaison

NORDP’s Strategic Alliances Committee (SAC) has been engaging with NACRO for several years, exploring the natural synergies between these two university functions. NORDP’s volunteer liaison responsibility is shifting to Don Takehara, Associate Director for Research, College of Engineering Office of Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

With more than 500 members, NACRO provides professional development and best practices related to university-industry corporate relations. “As higher education plays an increasing role in economic development, and in light of the challenging fiscal environment in which many of our institutions operate, it is more important than ever for colleges and universities to create and maintain dynamic relationships with business and industry,” the NACRO website declares.

In support of his RD role, Takehara has been a member of NACRO for eight years, even before he joined NORDP. He recently agreed to take over the NACRO liaison responsibilities previously held by NORDP Board member Rachel Dresbeck, who is a co-chair of SAC.

The relationship between the two organizations began in ­2017, when Dresbeck and NORDP Board member Peggy Sundermeyer presented on research development at the NACRO conference in Seattle and met with the NACRO Board to explore how the two organizations could work together . 

“This partnership with NACRO fits well into SAC’s strategic priorities by strengthening our reciprocal relationships with sister organizations. We now have a memorandum of understanding between the two groups, providing benefits such as complementary registrations at conferences. Our work informs one another and provides a type of competitive intelligence for both groups,” Dresbeck says.

Serving as a SAC liaison has also benefitted Dresbeck’s own RD work, helping her institution initiate new relationships with local businesses, both large and small. She encourages NORDP members to take advantage of this partnership with NACRO, which can help them work more effectively with their own corporate and foundation development colleagues.

Takehara echoes the benefits of RD professionals engaging with NACRO and their own universities’ corporate and foundation staff. “It’s important for corporate relations and research development members of the two groups to learn how to work better together,” he says.

An example of joint activity includes presentations at the 2018 NORDP Conference in Arlington, where Dresbeck and Eileen Murphy, Kerry Morris (both NACRO and NORDP members), as well as NACRO member Brett Burns presented case studies on the value of working together.  Murphy and Morris have been instrumental in deepening this important relationship. The following year, NACRO’s Co-presidents, Megan Greenawalt from the University of Pittsburgh and Adam Johnson from the Michigan Technological University, led the Leadership Forum at the NORDP 2019 Annual Research Development Conference. And following that, NORDP’s 2019 Great Lakes Regional Meeting, chaired by Jill Jividen and Beth LaPensee, included three sessions about RD and corporate relations and was led by Takehara.  Sessions included center directors discussing how to engage industry partners on large-scale proposals, corporate executives explaining how to engage industry in research initiatives, and a corporate relations panel discussing their perspectives on RD.

Many resources on the NACRO website are significant to strong RD strategy. For example, Takehara served the NACRO Industry Perspectives Subcommittee for its “Research Report: “Industry Perspective on Academic Corporate Relations” that can be found here.

More information on NACRO and the NORDP Liaison program can be found on the SAC liaison page, including a NACRO “Profile” link with members-only information for NORDP members. For more information about serving as a NORDP Liaison, please contact Karen Eck,  who serves as SAC co-chair, along with Dresbeck, Gretchen Kiser, and Ann Maglia.

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

PEERD Review Reflection: University of Alabama

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The University of Alabama (UA), the first public university in the state, hosted NORDP PEERD experts for a PEERD review in 2018. Faculty success in research is enabled through the Office for Research and Economic Development (ORED), in partnership with the colleges, schools, and research institutes at UA. Specifically, the Office of Proposal Development (OPD), and the Office of Research Development (ORD), within the ORED, have been charged with identifying and delivering a suite of services to support faculty research, scholarly, and creative endeavors.

The Process

The two PEERD experts held a pre-review phone call with institutional representatives to learn of any background information needed prior to the review, help identify key stakeholders to include in the meetings, and plan out logistics. One PEERD expert traveled to Alabama, while the other joined virtually. The PEERD experts spent two business days meeting with key stakeholders and inquiring about the research and proposal services provided, as well as the overall effectiveness of the Office for Research and Economic Development. These were the primary foci of the review, as requested by UA. Each PEERD review is as unique and diverse as the host institutions, who identify the foci for the review. Within 10 business days following the on-site review, the PEERD experts provided a first draft of the PEERD report for the institutional representatives to review and provide their feedback. Once finalized, the PEERD report was provided to university leadership.

The Impact

The PEERD experts provided three overarching recommendations:

  1. Enable and empower faculty to achieve the overall university vision by defining a new vision for centralized Research Development services and support,
  2. Create meaningful connections between a centralized Research Development office and other units, and
  3. Build awareness for/messaging about Research Development services and support of university-wide success in research.

Within each recommendation are several best practices and insights into implementing them on campus. The PEERD experts recommended that research performance goals include both measures of quantity and quality for research and included some guidelines for identifying those measures and implementing a vision for research development. They also recommended instituting a regular schedule of meetings between staff and leadership in order to create a networked institutional knowledge base, allowing for more consistent and higher quality services. Other recommendations included developing a strategic plan for growing RD, increasing the number of RD staff as well as the services provided by RD staff, developing RD metrics and measures, and creating communications plans, including an “outreach tour”.

As a result of these recommendations, the Office for Research Development (ORD) was separated from the Office of Proposal Development (OPD) to better communicate to faculty where to go for specific assistance and support. ORD and OPD are now included in monthly meetings with the Associate Deans for Research. A member of the ORD noted that attending these regular meetings has resulted in an increased awareness of what the ORED is doing and planning and has allowed her to share her firsthand knowledge with faculty. Also, one of the PEERD experts provided the staff with marketing materials, including brochures and flyers, that were used as models to develop the materials that highlighted the different support services provided by the two offices.

The Opportunity

Take advantage of the experience and knowledge of PEERD experts to provide validation for your growing RD offices. Utilize PEERD results to expand RD efforts, improve upon services currently offered, and increase effectiveness. PEERD can assist you in seeing gaps in resources and provide strategic planning advice on how to fill those gaps to help increase competitiveness. To learn more about the services provided by PEERD, visit or email

NORDP Liaison Report: OCLC Report on Social Interoperability in Research Support

Jeff Agnoli in Ohio State’s Research Development Office serves as a NORDP liaison to OCLC, a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, research, and community programs. He recently shared an OCLC report, in which he and other RD interviewees participated.

Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus Partnerships and the University Research Enterprise, by Rebecca Bryant, Annette Dortmund, and Brian Lavoie, explores the social and structural norms that shape cross-campus collaboration and offers a conceptual model of key university stakeholders in research support. Information about their goals, interests, expertise, and the importance of cross-campus relationships was synthesized from interviews. The report describes the network of campus units involved in major categories of research support services and concludes with recommendations to establish and maintain successful cross-campus relationships. Download the free report at:  

Working to Overcome Conversation Roadblocks on Our Journey to Justice

Contributed by Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CIE) members Jane Garrity, Etta Ward and Gretchen Kiser

It seems like every week in 2020 brings a new avalanche of news stories on institutional racism, social injustice, and voices raised in protest. NORDP members, like so many others, are looking for ways to be leaders, allies, and agents of change for our communities and campuses. We acknowledge the tremendous exhaustion and pain of our BIPOC members from the many years of trauma and oppression and join in solidarity to share the burden of change agency. There is so much we could and should be doing toward racial and social justice. Despite the daunting task ahead of us all, we need to initiate the first and fundamental step toward effecting enduring meaningful change – personal, sometimes difficult conversations with our friends, colleagues, and families. Starting and maintaining conversations leads to other critical actions that will be needed to dismantle the systems, processes and procedures that make it possible for inequities and discriminatory practices to persist. Unfortunately, many ‘would-be’ allies face conversation roadblocks preventing them from this critical action step.

The Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CIE) is leading the charge to bring opportunities for dialogue to NORDP members that will move us beyond simply checking off boxes on a diversity plan or proclaiming that we are realizing our diversity mission goals. Until we all feel that we belong and are valued, we still have work to do toward becoming a more inclusive, welcoming, and actively anti-racist organization. The CIE hosted a series of discussion sessions over June and July, and again on September 30, that were guided by a framework tool – Conversation Roadblocks – developed by Catalyst (, a global nonprofit founded in 1962 that helps organizations accelerate inclusion and professional progress for women and other under-represented groups at work.

These sessions were open to all NORDP members who chose to participate and were centered on anti-Black racism and the associated structures of social injustice. These sessions invited participants into uncomfortable conversations on racism and focused on identifying and surmounting the specific fears and assumptions that keep us silent on this issue. Specifically, we discussed conversation roadblocks such as a sense that there is not really a problem to address, the fear of negative consequences if one speaks up, or an assumption that talking will not solve anything. Honestly addressing these roadblocks is the first step towards building a framework for future action to build a culture of anti-racism at both NORDP and our home institutions.

Each Conversation Roadblock event included an opportunity for participants to collectively set ground rules for engagement toward creating a safe space to openly share our thoughts and feelings and to respectfully listen to the perspectives and lived experiences of others. In breakout groups, we reviewed the short but powerful Conversation Roadblocks document and shared stories of how we have encountered conversation roadblocks in our own lives and where we still struggle. The groups then presented key points of their discussions, and participants brainstormed some next steps for our collective journey to justice.

Attendees testified to the power that even these initial conversations can have, e.g.:

“I had a colleague who is a person of color reveal that she had changed her birth name and spent her childhood trying hard to NOT be associated with a non-White race/ethnicity. I thought how exhausting that must be to everyday have to put so much energy in denying a part of who you are. No one should have to do that.”

“I was skeptical about the level of impact an exercise like this could truly make in just one and a half hours. But I walked away with a commitment to the work of racial and social justice, especially learning my own roadblocks and hearing ideas for additional action steps moving forward.”

On-going, honest and open conversation on these issues is critical to true enduring transformational change. Thus, NORDP will be hosting these Conversation Roadblock sessions each quarter for the next year. And, because such discussion is just the beginning of our journey to justice, NORDP’s CIE will also be hosting a developmental series for NORDP members on topics like privilege, allyship, intrinsic bias, cross-cultural collaboration, intersectionality, power dynamics, and institutional racism. In addition, keep an eye out for a climate survey on diversity, equity, and inclusion in early 2021. We hope that you’ll participate in these opportunities to make your voice heard, listen to others’ stories, and continue the hard work of dismantling systemic and structural racism and discrimination in our personal and professional spheres of influence.

Reference: Catalyst, Conversation Roadblocks (October 10, 2019) (

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

2021 NORDP Awards • Due November 4

NORDP has created three new awards to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of members making exemplary contributions to the organization, the profession, and/or the field. These awards honor the excellence and impact of NORDP members and recognize contributions of NORDP member-leaders, including the practice or production of new knowledge related to activities such as (but not limited to):

  • strategic research advancement,
  • communication of research and research opportunities,
  • enhancement of research collaboration and team science, and
  • proposal development.

NORDP Awards will celebrate the distinctive achievements of individuals, collaborative groups or work teams, programs or projects, and organizations. Winners of NORDP Awards will be recognized during the annual NORDP Research Development Conference.

Nominations for NORDP Awards, including self-nominations, may be submitted by any NORDP member in good standing. Unless otherwise indicated, current members of NORDP’s Board of Directors are ineligible to submit nominations (including self-nominations). Information about prior NORDP Award recipients is available here.

All nominations for NORDP Awards (including the existing Rising Star Award) will be accepted through a new InfoReady NORDP awards portal and nominations will be due the first Wednesday in November, annually. 

See more about award types below, and submit nominations by November 4, 2020.

Questions? Join us October 14, 3:30-4:15 pm EDT for a discussion about new NORDP award opportunities: | Meeting ID: 873 3207 7727

Award Types

Innovation Award

Recognizes individuals, groups, or team; functional units; or organizations who leverage unique skills or resources to kick-start innovation in research development and advance the profession or the field in ways that generate evidence of promise or demonstrable results. Innovations leverage partnerships, experiment with tools and techniques, or generate and share knowledge to advance NORDP and the work of its members.

Eligibility: Regular NORDP members (i.e., non-board members) in good standing are eligible for individual nomination. NORDP members in good standing and current members of NORDP’s Board of Directors may be included as part of nominations for groups, teams, functional units, or organizations.

Leadership Award

This award honors a member, a group of members or a team, a research development unit, or an organization that demonstrates exceptional leadership and/or a deep commitment to volunteerism in ways that advance the profession or field of research development.

Eligibility: Regular NORDP members (i.e., non-board members) in good standing are eligible for individual nomination. NORDP members in good standing and current members of NORDP’s Board of Directors may be included as part of nominations for groups, teams, functional units, or organizations.

NORDP Fellow

Designation as a NORDP Fellows is made to recognize the long-term accomplishments of members who have made sustained contributions to NORDP and worked tirelessly to advance research development as a profession and/or as a field. Status as a NORDP Fellow is the highest professional distinction the organization may bestow on a member. No more than one percent of NORDP members will be named Fellows annually. 

Eligibility: Regular members (i.e., non-board members) in good standing who have maintained an active NORDP membership for at least five consecutive years are eligible for nomination.

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award is bestowed on up to three members annually in recognition of outstanding, early volunteer contributions to NORDP and strong potential for future contributions to the organization and the profession or the field. Rising Star recipients receive waived registration for a subsequent NORDP annual conference. 

Eligibility: Regular members (i.e., non-board members) in good standing who have maintained an active NORDP membership for fewer than five consecutive years are eligible for nomination. Current and past board members are ineligible for this award.

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Celebrate Good Times… Mentor On!

By Kathy Partlow

As a new and unprecedented academic year begins, the Mentoring Committee took a moment to celebrate accomplishments of the past year and brainstorm new opportunities for the coming year. Committee members submitted words associated with participating on the Committee – like fun, support, dynamic, inclusive, community, and productive –to generate a word cloud. The accomplishments in the past year initiated momentum for mentoring opportunities available to NORDP members in the coming year.

Mentor-Mentee Pairs: The Committee continues to develop and evaluate resources to support mentoring relationships (see the Roadmap and Reflection Resource) for the growing number of matched pairs in the annual NORDP Mentoring Program. This work enabled NORDP to join the national conversation on mentoring at the Mentoring Institute’s annual conference and in The Chronicle of Mentoring & Coaching (see full publication here). In the end of year survey for the 2019-2020 Mentoring Program, 96% of participants would recommend the program to a colleague and 72% plan to continue the mentoring relationship beyond the formal program year. This year, separate cohort meetings (McHuddles) will be available for mentees and mentors to allow each group to interact and learn from each other.

Peer Mentoring Groups: New Peer Mentoring Groups (PMGs) are benefiting from last year’s pilot program and new supporting resources. PMGs allow members with similar interests to share resources, provide feedback, and act as accountability partners for building skills in leadership, proposal development, collaboration, career development, communication, and strategic planning. The invitation remains open to join and meeting times are posted on NORDP’s event calendar. Additionally, the PMG framework is supporting the exciting new NORDP LEAD (Leadership, Engagement and Development) opportunity.

Mentor Training: The RD-adapted mentor training developed from the evidence-based curriculum available from the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) was beta-tested in a virtual format this summer. This opportunity for mentor training will be broadly available to NORDP members in 2021. You can indicate your interest for participating in mentor training here.

Additional highlights, benefits of mentoring relationships, and experiences of supporting mentoring at our home institutions will be shared in the second iteration of the well-received Mentoring Lightning Storm. Join us for a fun-filled, fast-paced, and mentoring-focused series of lightning talks on October 23 at 2 p.m. Eastern!

Have other thoughts or ideas you’d like to share with the Mentoring Committee? Feel free to leave a comment or email us at

Final Sessions of NORDP2020

All great things come to end, including NORDP2020. This month NORDP will host the final three NORDP2020 sessions on certifications/credentialing, peer review design and strategy, and mentoring. You can check out the programs and register to attend HERE. Details on each session are below.

Already, some members have been asking “what happens next after NORDP2020 ends?” That’s easy to answer! Once the final “live” session concludes, all the NORDP2020 content (videos, slides, transcripts, etc.) will be placed in one huge NORDP2020 conference package and made available to all members free of charge through NORDP’s LMS. So, if you missed a live session or two, no worries; everything will be available for viewing at your leisure by the end of October.

October 6, 1pm ET: NORDP2020: Research Development and Alphabet Soup – Making Sense of Certification and Credentialing in an Evolving Environment

We know there is no concise, satisfying, and all-inclusive definition for research development and as our community evolves, we now reflect a wide range of experiences. Indeed, qualifications and experiences of RD professionals vary significantly depending on our institution’s priorities and expectations. This means we often engage across a spectrum of activities, including research administration, communication facilitation and networking, project management, writing and editing, curriculum instruction and design, graphic design, and other niche work that compliments our terminal degrees. Examples may include, but may not be limited to: technical writing certificate; grant writing certificate, certified research administrator (CRA), editor of life sciences (ELS); proposal management (CF.APMP); and project management (PMI).

The goal of this session is to introduce some of the common certifications and credentials that RD professionals currently hold and explore the return on investment for earning them. Learning outcomes include a deeper appreciation of how augmenting and complementing existing skills with certification may strengthen an RD office, and greater knowledge of professional education resources (with or without certification and/or credentialing) that can contribute to increased productivity individually and within an RD office.

This session is relevant for emerging and established RD professionals looking for career development oppportunities, and for supervisors defining RD roles and hiring/managing RD professionals. Attendees should consider themselves advanced in their knowledge of RD responsibilities.

October 21, 2pm ET: NORDP2020: Peer Review Design and Strategy

For over 20 years the AAAS Research Competitiveness Program (RCP) has worked with State, Federal, international, and non-profit organizations in designing and implementing peer review systems for sceince and technology grant programs. The goal of the AAAS RCP-led roundtable is to share the program’s expertise in this realm, while stimulating peer-to-peer discussion on common challenges and strategic approaches to peer review.

Participants will exchange their experiences with and approaches to proposal peer review to gain insight on effective strategies to idenitfy and support the highest quality research, mitigate risk, streamline review and decision-making processes, and develop an insitutional culture of rigorous evalauation. The advantages and disadvantages of different peer review modeles and variables will be discussed including: revew panel structure; review criteria; and solicitation design. Through the topical roundtable participants will gain a better understanding of how other organizations manage peer review processes and present an opportunity for them to improve their own systems.

This session builds on a previous panel-based presentation from AAAS RCP at the 2018 SSTI conference, which focused on RCP’s work with state organizations to align review processes with the needs and priorities of the initiative and funding mechanism. The roundtable format presents an opportunity to to expand this discussion beyond state-based initiatives to other domestic organizations engageing in proposal review.

October 23, 2pm ET: NORDP2020: Mentoring Lightning Storm

This mentoring-focused series of talks will engage NORDP’s current and prospective mentors and mentees with topics geared toward foundational mentoring skills and experiences. Sessions will showcase best practices necessary to be successful in mentoring relations, as well as, provide insights into the program in a brief but interactive format. The talks will provide potential mentors and mentees additional resources to support NORDP or other future mentoring relationships. 

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.