Who: Kimberly Patten, Assistant Vice President for Research Development; NORDP Board of Directors, Designated MSI Seat
Where: University of Arizona
Number of years in research development: 17 years total: 8 years in academic research; 4 years in science research management; 5 years in nonprofit research management
Length of NORDP membership: 8 years
What initiative are you the most proud of in your role as a NORDP volunteer?
As a NORDP volunteer the thing I am most proud of is spending time with the Strategic Alliances Committee and working with them to formalize our relationships with sister organizations. From a professional perspective I think the thing I have done and willingly shared in service to both my institution and the profession is trying to help think through career progression in research development and developing these lines of progression. The structure I have developed at the University of Arizona is six different levels within research development, plus an additional five levels of management lines. There are eleven different career progression steps that you could be involved in research development. I’ll admit that implementing these lines is more difficult than creating them, but just having them is a start.
How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?
How has it not? The best thing about NORDP is the community and sharing, willingness of individuals to share best practices. I’m reluctant to say that I have come up with anything originally. Instead, it’s a culmination of best practices, digging in deep and talking to people. Then taking the pieces that would fit at my institution. People are so willing to give, share and provide support within this community. That willingness to share has enabled me to think about implementing infrastructure within my institution and how we fit into the larger research development picture.
How did you hear about NORDP and what made you join initially?
I started at the University of Arizona in 2014. The grant funding I had was coming to a close and a friend sent me this job opportunity.
I came into the position under a former NORDP board member, Anne McGuigan, who provided phenomenal mentorship and that connection to NORDP. I became a member of NORDP almost from day one of joining the University of Arizona and attended my first conference in 2015, where like many before me have said, I found my people.
What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?
I serve in the mentoring program as both a mentor and a mentee. I have been paired frequently with people at less resourced institutions and it’s just incredible to me what they can accomplish as a one-person shop. I have also grown an informal mentor network through committee connections. And then there’s the listserv postings; I’ve reached out on more than one occasion based on someone’s job posting or guidance on the listserv. People at NORDP are so kind and willing to help. As a hiring manager, bringing on new talent is one area that I have relied on help through the NORDP network. For example, engaging with postdocs and through the national postdoc association group or looking at faculty spousal hires. These are a couple of the ideas that have come up through NORDP.
Describe how NORDP has changed from when you initially joined
NORDP has certainly grown. It is constantly improving processes and remaining flexible. NORDP is still in a discovery mode. It is still an incredibly welcoming organization and the work done by committees like the Committee on Inclusive Excellence and Member Services is making it an even more welcoming organization. We are at a tipping point for thinking through what services we can provide as an organization for our growing membership. Really there is nowhere to go but up. The bigger and broader the network, the better informed we all are and the more ideas to harness.
What recommendations do you have for members to get more involved with NORDP?
My first recommendation is to sign up for mentorship. One of the most important things that a research development professional and NORDP member can do is expand your network – find someone outside your institution you can throw ideas around with, learn from and grow with. The next one is to think about your strengths and whether you want to continue building and growing them or try something new. It’s not a bad thing to try something new, especially if you’re brand-new to RD. We all fall back on our comfort zone. New experiences can help you network and build collaborations (and this is coming from someone that finds networking incredibly uncomfortable). Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself because NORDP is such a welcoming and open community that you will find a way to contribute regardless of what you decide to do.
I am incredibly humbled at the nomination and to actually receive the award I find it hard to put into words how I feel. I sincerely appreciate this organization and what it has done for me, professionally and personally. I hope I have given back even a percentage of what I have received. To be in the cohort that was selected – these are some of the people that I also look up to, is humbling.