“Impact” is a word that has come to define Dr. Susan Renoe’s career. Currently the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Extension, & Engagement at the University of Missouri, Renoe also serves as the Executive Director of the NSF-funded Center for Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS). In fact, Renoe has been working in the impact space since before she even realized that what she was doing was broader impacts work. “When I tell people that I’ve been doing broader impacts for more than 20 years, it’s because I was doing it as a graduate student, recalls Renoe. “I just didn’t know that’s what it was.”
Renoe will deliver the 2022 NORDP Conference keynote address, entitled Broader Impacts: A Strategy for Research Development. In her remarks, she will provide a brief overview of ARIS, highlight the ARIS-NORDP partnership that began in fall 2021, and explore the ways in which universities are using broader impacts to support proposal development and enhance societal impact.
While a partnership between NORDP and ARIS was formalized last fall, Renoe notes that the two organizations share a connection that goes back much farther – all the way to the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI), the predecessor to ARIS. As a founding member of NABI, Renoe recalls, “NORDP was the model for NABI. When we first got together to write the grant and to think about our approach to building a network, we met with NORDP leadership to really think about what made sense organizationally. Those conversations were instrumental in helping us get off the ground.”
Throughout her career, Renoe has witnessed firsthand the connections between research development and research impact. “For me, broader impacts and research development are inextricably linked. I came to research development through broader impacts. On our own campus, our broader impacts work has been championed, in part, because it fits the research development mission. Being able to connect communities and researchers together really strengthens a proposal and increases its chance of getting funding. All agencies have some funding mechanisms that support what we think of as broader impacts, whether it’s training grants, K-12 outreach, or broadening participation. I see it as an additional revenue stream to grow research expenditures. In that way, it really is underpinning a lot of what we do in research development.”
Renoe describes ARIS as a big-tent organization. “The types of people who are involved in ARIS are very broad, and we keep it that way on purpose.” she noted. “We cast a wide net for ARIS because we recognize that the path for broader impacts support is very wide and includes a lot of different people, and we want people to be able to see themselves in areas but also to contribute to the conversation.” As the partnership between NORDP and ARIS develops, Renoe hopes that members will see themselves and their work reflected within both organizations. “What we want is for people to be able to seamlessly move between these two worlds and get what they need, and feel like, ‘I’m at home within NORDP, but I’m also at home within ARIS.’”
When it comes to institutional alignment of research development and research impact, Renoe is excited about what the future holds. “We’re seeing more and more offices of research and innovation, research impact, and research and engagement. And I think that’s encouraging. I also see just working with new faculty that our early career faculty are coming in wanting to be more engaged. They want to have work that is meaningful. They want to have do research that has an impact on communities.”