Applications now being accepted for the NORDP Mentor Program

Are you looking for an opportunity for professional development? Do you have wisdom to share with new research development professionals? Consider becoming a NORDP mentor.

The Mentor Program is a great opportunity for NORDP members to connect with colleagues over their specific professional interests, share their professional experiences and stories, and develop lasting individual relationships with fellow members within our broad national network.

We particularly encourage anyone who has had a mentor in the past to apply to be a mentor to our newer members, or to participate both as mentors and mentees. New this year is also the opportunity to join small Community of Practice groups that bring together people with a similar set of specific discussion interests. Mentoring pairs and CoP groups will be matched using the same on-line application.

The deadline for applications will close on April 4, so don’t delay! Find all the details on the Mentor Program web page.

Call for Nominations: NORDP’s Rising Star of Excellence Awards – due March 1

The NORDP Board of Directors is excited to announce a new way to recognize the contributions of newer members of NORDP who have made outstanding contributions to the organization: the Rising Star of Excellence Award.  We are now accepting nominations for this award.

Active NORDP members with at least three years of experience in the profession; two years of NORDP membership; and significant volunteer contributions to NORDP, i.e., committee work, conference volunteer, presenter, etc. Current and past members of the NORDP Board of Directors are ineligible for nomination.

Nomination and Selection Process
Any NORDP member may nominate eligible members for this award. We are asking for a letter of nomination that details why this NORDP member is a good candidate for this recognition. In particular, the nomination should speak to past and current contributions to NORDP; the potential for future contributions to research development, to NORDP, or to both; and examples of excellence in research development that deserve to be recognized. The nomination should also include a short (approximately 50 words) statement to be used as an award citation if the nominee is selected.

Please submit nominations to by March 1, 2016. Nominations will be judged based upon the extent to which the candidate has achieved success in the criteria specified above.

The Conference Scholarship, Award, and Recognition subcommittee reviews the nomination materials and recommends nominees for approval by the Board of Directors. Awardees will receive an engraved plaque and waived conference registration for a future NORDP conference.

Contact Jeff Agnoli,, with any questions.

NORDP New Year: an update from NORDP Secretary Michael Spires


It’s a new year, and there’s so much that’s new and exciting going on with NORDP. I want to focus on a couple of those things in this post:

  • The 2016 NORDP Annual Meeting
  • 2016 Nominating Committee and upcoming NORDP elections

2016 NORDP Annual Meeting

In just four short months, we’ll be gathering at the Hyatt Grand Cypress in Orlando for the 2016 annual meeting. Registration is now open, and the Program Committee is hard at work putting together an awesome lineup of presentations, panels, roundtables, and posters. We received a total of 84 submissions for presentations, and we hope to have notifications out shortly to the presenters who have been given the green light. As we get closer to the meeting, we’ll start sharing some nuggets of information about speakers and presentations to whet your appetite, along with information about networking opportunities and other activities at the meeting. I hope to see you there!

2016 Nominating Committee and Upcoming NORDP Elections

The new year also means that it’s time to start thinking about electing new members to the Board of Directors. To that end, the 2016 Nominating Committee recently had its first meeting, at which we went over materials from last year’s election and started making some changes for this year. Keep an eye out for an email from us in the next couple of weeks inviting nominations and applications for this year’s ballot.

The Nominating Committee is established by the NORDP Bylaws. Its members serve for one year (and can serve more than one term, if they want to). Each fall, the outgoing chair invites NORDP members to volunteer to serve on the committee. After selecting six members from the membership at large, two members from the Board of Directors are added, and the new committee then selects a chair for the year. This year we’re proud to report that we have at least one member from every NORDP region:

  • Region I: Peg AtKisson, Grant Writers’ Seminars & Workshops
  • Region II: Karen Eck (Board member), Old Dominion University
  • Region III: Beth Hodges, Florida State University
  • Region IV: Kathryn Partlow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Region V: Michael Spires (Board member), University of Colorado Boulder; Jerilyn Hansen (committee chair), Utah State University
  • Region VI: Sandra Garcia, University of Houston, Downtown
  • Region VII: Susan Carter, University of California, Merced

The committee is charged by the Bylaws, and other NORDP policies, with reviewing and updating elections information, soliciting nominations and applications for election to the Board, verifying the willingness to serve for individuals nominated by another NORDP member, presenting a slate of candidates for the Board, and working with the candidates to generate information about their backgrounds and qualifications for service that will be included in the information sent out with the election ballots. A member of the committee (the chair, if she or he is in attendance) moderates the candidate forum breakfast at the annual meeting. After the election is complete, the committee reviews the feedback received from those who participated, and may recommend changes in policies and procedures to the Board for the next cycle if these are warranted.

All NORDP members in good standing as of April 8, 2016 will be eligible to vote in the 2016 elections, so if your membership is set to expire before that date, make sure to renew soon! We have to send voter names and email addresses to our election services provider at least 20 business days before voting opens, so they can generate the emails containing each eligible member’s personalized link to the secure voting website. Our cutoff date is slightly before that deadline, to make sure we have the chance to process all outstanding renewals before we generate the list to send to the service provider. Voting will be open from May 16 until June 8.

Michael Spires, M.A., M.S., CRA
University of Colorado Boulder

New NORDP Webinar: Evaluating Your Research Development Office

Evaluating Your Research Development Office
Presented by Sarah Marina, Tufts University

Date:                      Thursday, February 11, 2016
Time:                     1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EST  /  12 noon – 1:00 pm CST Registration:        You must be a member to register. Join NORDP today to access this resource!

The question of how to evaluate the success of a research development practitioner is being asked with increasing frequency, as this is a new and growing field. Commonly used quantitative metrics (such as “success” rates) fail to provide meaningful information about the true impact of our work, given its complexity and the realities of dropping funding rates. Many of us have the opportunity to chart the course of how we will be evaluated at our institutions, but the question remains: What measures of success should we use, and how should we evaluate them?

In this webinar, we will describe several evidence-based tools for use in internal evaluation and illustrate selected approaches with examples from actual evaluations of the Offices of Research Administration and Research Development at Tufts University. In particular, this session will highlight the utility of using satisfaction as the key metric in assessing the success of a research development office. We will offer practical tips for developing an evaluation of your own Research Development efforts, and detail the process of developing, designing, implementing, and assessing the results of a satisfaction survey.

Sarah Marina is an Assistant Director in the Tufts University Office of Research Development. She has eight years of professional experience in the research development field, centering on proposal development and strategy, and program design and implementation. Her current research focus is on the development methods for the evaluation of offices of research development and/or administration. She completed a certificate in Program Evaluation at Tufts University in 2012, where she is currently a masters candidate in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.

Welcome to the new face of NORDP News

Welcome to NORDP News! The NORDP Blog is a little over a year old now, and we thought it was time for a better way to interact with NORDP. We’re renaming the blog–henceforth it will bear the title of our old newsletter, the NORDP News. (Look for an archive of those soon). Be sure to subscribe for the latest updates on our eighth annual Research Development Conference, our search for an executive director, the thoughts and activities of our members and board members, and more. And participate by commenting!


NORDP’s next evolution: an executive director

NORDP has been an all-volunteer organization since its official inception in 2010–and even before, when we were a self-organized, grass-roots gaggle. Since that time, we have relied on a cadre of people like you–busy professionals at every level who have substantial day jobs–to help us keep the lights on and develop rich and rewarding programming and resources for research development professionals. And we mostly like it that way: we rely on the energy, vision, and enthusiasm that only an all-volunteer organization can produce.

But this enthusiasm comes with a caveat: If you are a research development professional, you are probably really good at coming up with ideas. Ideas about how to help our members, ideas about how we can reward them, ideas about programming, ideas about our website, ideas about conference committees, ideas about specific topics at the conference, ideas about the menu at the conference–in short, research development professionals score high on their ability to generate ideas.

It is for this reason that we need an executive director: someone whose job it is to keep us focused and on track, who respects ideas but won’t allow their sheer number get in the way of accomplishing them.

For these reasons, I am so pleased to announce that we are looking for our first paid Executive Director. If you know or are someone who think this might be the right position for you, please check out the position description and the application instructions here.

Bye for now,

Rachel Dresbeck, PhD
NORDP President

New Kids on the Board – Message from the Newest Members of the NORDP Board of Directors

NORDP Board 2015
The NORDP Board for 2015 contemplates all the work it just assigned itself. From the left Ioannis Konstantinidis, Jeff Agnoli, Anne Windham (who transitioned off the Board this year), Alicia Knoedler, Michael Spires, David Stone, Rachel Dresbeck, Peggy Sundermeyer, Jacob Levin, Gretchen Kiser, Terri Soelberg, Marjorie Piechowski, and Karen Eck.

On August 23-25, 2015 the NORDP Board of Directors met at the University Memorial Center on the beautiful campus of the University of Colorado Boulder for a retreat. The purpose of this meeting was to strategize and plan for the future of our organization and profession. The three newest members of the Board of Directors, listed below, prepared this reflection to communicate our experience to our membership. We would like to thank Michael Spires (Secretary and member of the Board of Directors) for his gracious hospitality during our stay on his campus.

What Happened (Jeff)
The 2015 NORDP Board of Directors retreat agenda focused on strategic discussions about our organization. Specifically, we explored the roles and responsibilities of our committees and set realistic goals for the coming year. It was enlightening and educational to learn about our history and to be a part of the process to advocate for our members and our profession. A concrete outcome of the retreat was a commitment to ensure regular communication with our membership.  Each Board Member now has the responsibility to provide regular updates to our community via our blog. We also addressed the overall operations of our organization and made some strategic decisions about our future, including the writing of a job description for an Executive Director. More details will be announced soon. Please contact me if you have questions about volunteering for any of these committees and we will connect you with the committee chairs: Jeff Agnoli at

Expectations (Terri)
I went into the retreat as a freshman board member without really knowing what to expect, but having been told that it would be an ‘intense couple of days’. The retreat was that indeed, but it was also an incredible experience. This is a dynamic organization filled with passionate board members who are committed to begin implementing some lofty goals. While there is a lot of work to be accomplished that will require the dedication of many people, I left the retreat feeling inspired (if a little tired), well supported, and excited to be a part of a national dialogue.  Members, stay tuned for announcements throughout the year from the Member Services Committee that will highlight opportunities to engage in these initiatives. If you are interested joining the Member Services Committee, please contact me at

Future Directions (Karen)
A significant portion of the retreat was spent discussing new initiatives the Board plans to start implementing over the coming year. For example, we focused on NORD (New Opportunities for Research Development), developing a business model for revenue generation and LDRD (Leadership Development in Research Development). While NORD centers on establishing Research Development as a discipline in the larger academic world, LDRD is focused on leadership development for our members. Do you work with teams, edit proposals, and identify funding but would like to develop leadership skills that prepare you to do more strategic research planning and institutional capacity building? Are you looking to advance your career in Research Development? LDRD will be focused on your professional development so stay tuned for new programming in this area. If you have questions about the Enhancing Research Collaboration Committee, or our current project to establish The Collaboration Continuum as a tool for advancing research/proposal teams, feel free to contact me at

Jeff Agnoli
The Ohio State University

Karen Eck
Old Dominion University

Terri Soelberg
Boise State University

NORDP 2015 Conference Cameo: Lucy Deckard

Who: Lucy Deckard, President
Where: Academic Research Funding Strategies, LLC
Number of years in research development: 14
Length of NORDP membership: 
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 3
It was my good luck that NORDP was being established just I decided to leave my position in Research Development at Texas A&M University to start a consulting business. Independent consultants depend on networking and word of mouth to connect with potential clients. Our currency is information, and one of the most valuable things we can provide a client is a broader perspective that reaches beyond their particular institution. What approaches have other institutions employed to address specific research development challenges? What works and what doesn’t? What are the larger trends in research funding and research development?

NORDP has been instrumental in helping me address all of those aspects. Attending NORDP conferences has provided invaluable opportunities to connect with potential clients across the country and meet clients with whom I’d previously only talked on the phone. The information I’ve learned at the conference has helped me to build a much broader understanding of the research development landscape across the country than I could ever have done on my own. Interestingly, when I attended my first NORDP conference in 2010, I was the only consultant there. At last year’s conference, I met a number of other independent consultants. It was wonderful to be able to share advice with them and commiserate about challenges.

In past conferences, I’ve participated in NORDP conferences in various ways, including serving as part of the planning committee, presenting, and volunteering to be a scribe. For this year’s conference, I’m particularly looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones. To get the most out of the conference, I recommend that you make a point to talk to people you don’t know. Sit only at tables where you don’t know the other people and ask them about their research development roles at their institutions.

We hope to see you at the 2015 NORDP Research Development Conference, April 29 to May 1 in Bethesda, MD. For more information about the conference program or to register, click here

NORDP 2015 Conference Cameos: Jessica Venable

Who: Jessica Venable, Coordinator, Research Development Services
Where: Virginia Commonwealth University
Number of years in research development: 16 (Was it called “research development” back then?)
Length of NORDP membership: 4
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 4
My first foray into research development, well before I had even heard the term, was when I was a graduate student intern at NASA Langley Research Center. The Associate Director of the Education Division handed me a giant book of grants the center had made in the past fiscal year. He said my project was to survey faculty, postdocs, and graduate students about their experiences working on these sponsored programs. My first question: “What’s a sponsored program?”

Fifteen years later, I am in the position of responding to that question for researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Since the answers are so critical faculty professional development and VCU’s success, I have to come up interesting, creative, and compelling ways to impart the fundamentals of grantsmanship. And if I am to help keep the faculty competitive, I have to stay sharp, well-informed, and ahead of the trends. I certainly can’t do that by myself from Richmond, VA!

 I serve as the Coordinator for Research Development Services in VCU’s central office of research and am charged with assisting faculty in all disciplines targeting all funders. I readily admit the limits of my expertise, so I was thrilled to learn that there was an organization of research development professionals to pool and share resources. Thanks to the RD conferences, an entire community of experts has inspired VCU’s yearlong, campus-wide grantwriting bootcamps: the CAREER Academy and the Grantwriting Institute.

 For me, the NORDP 2015 conference will be all about the hallway conversations. My office is refining some of its programs, so I’ll look to my fantastic NORDP member colleagues for their best strategies, best advice, and good humor. Like Bob McDonald said, the annual meeting is where it’s at!

It’s not too late to attend the 2015 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held April 29 to May 1 in Bethesda, MD. More information about the conference program and registration info available here.

NORDP 2015 Conference Cameos: Pradip Pramanik

Who: Pradip Pramanik, Director, Proposal Development Unit
Where: North Carolina State University
Number of years in research development: 27
Length of NORDP membership: 6
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 5
With more than 27 years of  combined experience in project management, grants management, planning, administration, assessment, and research development, I am really encouraged by NORDP’s role in enhancing the visibility of research development professionals on a national scale. Since its inception, the organization has played an extraordinary role in establishing a network of research development professionals and enhancing the capacity of its members. It serves as a communication and networking platform to share best practices and build awareness about effective strategies, policy decisions, opportunities, and issues related to research development.

For me, NORDP has played a significant role in steering my professional growth and development in research development facilitation across departmental and institutional boundaries. Over the years, I have realized that success of a faculty team depends not only in the content of a team’s discussions but also in the manner in which the team members interact and communicate with one another.

That said, at the upcoming conference, I am specifically interested in team science strategies and am looking forward to the sessions on “The Collaboration Continuum: An RD Perspective on Building Teams” and “The Science of Team Science: The Evidence and A Path Forward.” The NORDP conference is well-attended, and I would recommend my colleagues to reach out to fellow research development professionals at this conference to share accomplishments and lessons learned, participate in Q&A sessions, and to engage in discussions that enhance peer interaction. I will be participating in the 2015 conference as an attendee and am looking forward to engaging in discussions and informative sessions. 

Make plans to attend the 2015 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held April 29 to May 1 in Bethesda, MD. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit here.