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

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2016 NORDP Conference Featured Keynote Speaker: Carl Herndl, University of South Florida

An update from Jennifer Lyon, UT Austin

Many of us working in research development are responsible for envisioning, coordinating or supporting interdisciplinary teams, either within our own organization or spanning multiple organizations and sectors. This also means that we are acutely aware of the challenges inherent to fostering genuine interdisciplinarity. Our first confirmed 2016 NORDP Conference keynote speaker,  Carl Herndl, Ph.D from the University of South Florida, will join us in Orlando this May to present “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Interdisciplinarity.” He will share suggestions and cautionary tales in promoting interdisciplinarity. His keynote address will draw upon more than 20 years of experience in fostering interdisciplinarity among researchers and university faculty. He will argue that interdisciplinary teams are absolutely essential for the advancement of knowledge, talk about the intellectual and institutional challenges to promoting interdisciplinarity, and offer concrete suggestions for encouraging this kind of work. Herndl holds joint appointments in the Department of English and the new Patel College of Global Sustainability at the University of South Florida. Most recently, he served as Associate Dean for the new Patel College, in which he crafted promotion and tenure protocols for the new interdisciplinary college.
Follow @NORDP_officialon Twitter to stay in the know as we confirm additional 2016 Conference speakers!

What do you get out of NORDP?

A message from Member Services Co-Chair Terri Soelberg

There are many interesting things going in the Member Services Committee. We are charged with welcoming new members, helping to identify areas of programming/services that are of interest to the membership, and helping to recruit new members.

Currently, we are working on developing a set of recruiting tools and strategies that will help current members share information with others about this great organization. To that end, we would like to hear from members what you feel is most valuable about your NORDP membership. I hope you will take a couple of minutes to leave comments below. Shy about public posts? Feel free to reach out to me directly, terrisoelberg@boisestate.edu

If you have other thoughts about what you would like to see in the way of programming or member benefits, I would love to hear about it. Lastly, if would you like the opportunity to become more involved with the great work our committees do, let me know. All of our committees are open to increasing their volunteers.

Best,

Terri

Leadership development in research development: It’s based on data

By Alicia Knoedler

Our last NORDP Blog entry featured the newest members of the NORDP Board of Directors. Within that entry, it was mentioned that Board members will be providing regular updates to the NORDP membership. Each Board member has the opportunity to feature some ideas, give updates on committee work, and encourage NORDP members to become involved in the great work of this organization.

NORDP provides a tremendous network of colleagues and a wealth of opportunities to develop professionally. In a later blog entry, I will be sharing some ideas regarding leadership development within the context of research development. But before I get there, I would like to ask you to think about a few topics – think about them in the context of your own position at your institution or organization, the environment at your institution or organization, and your career goals and aspirations.

I am going to start with my favorite topic – DATA! At the recent Board retreat, a few of our discussions were aided by past and current data, and we all agree on the importance of accurate data when it comes to the NORDP membership, the exchange of frequent and current information – for example from Liaison and Committee reports, and the possibility that data might open our eyes to new ideas, trends, and needs.

The Membership Metrics Subcommittee, for example, recently completed the 2015 NORDP Salary Survey (you need to be a NORDP member to be able to see this page). These are great data to have, and beyond the figures provided in the report, the Subcommittee produced a great summary of findings that could be very helpful to the membership.

Keeping track of membership information is an important task within the Membership Services Committee and they rely on accurate information collected with you sign up to become a member or renew your membership. As we near the end of September, 2015, we have just over 600 members. We average about 15 new memberships per month and approximately 40 members renew each month. We now have NORDP Regional Representatives across various regions who are organizing discussions, listservs, and meetings. These representatives rely on accurate membership data to determine who is in their region. When the regions became more well-defined, we modified the classification of “Regions” in the membership profile system. Currently, 64% of the NORDP membership has accurate Regional classifications as part of their profiles. We would really appreciate your help in updating this information as well as other information in your profiles, such as your Institution/Organization Type, Institutional Consortia Membership (if you don’t know, ask around), and your Annual Sponsored Research Awards. All of these categories are important for various analyses and in helping us to determine target groups and programming needs. Please take a moment to log in to the Member Center (go to Member Center and then select “My Profile”) and make sure your profile is up to date.

At the retreat, the NORDP Board also discussed positions for the Board that will be open for the next election. We will have a forthcoming update on that topic soon.  We use the membership profile data to consider encouraging individuals from various regions, or institution sizes, or other demographic and institutional/organizational characteristics to consider running for election sot that the NORDP Board is representative of its membership and benefits from diverse perspectives and experiences.

I would like to end this update with a few questions that relate to my next blog update – Your institution/organization may have just one NORDP member or as many as 15 (University of Tennessee, Knoxville!) members. Would others at your institution/organization be interested in professional development offerings provided through NORDP? How many more? Could this include faculty? Associate Deans for Research? Department chairs/heads? Others? Fell free to add comments in answer to these questions but stay tuned for a future blog on the topic of reaching a broad audience through professional development.

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 agnoli.1@osu.edu.

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 terrisoelberg@boisestate.edu.

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 keck@odu.edu.

Jeff Agnoli
The Ohio State University
Agnoli.1@osu.edu

Karen Eck
Old Dominion University
keck@osu.edu

Terri Soelberg
Boise State University
terrisoelberg@boisestate.edu

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Strategies to Support Multi-Institutional, Cross-Conference Research Collaborations

by Marilyn Korhonen, Ed.D.
Associate Director Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment
Office of the Vice President for Research, University of Oklahoma

Panelists: Martha Cooper and Nathan Meier

The Traumatic Brain Injury Project is a great example of being ready to seize an opportunity, and it serves as a lesson to watch for such opportunities and be flexible enough to respond. One important aspect of the project is the timeliness and critical need to address concerns about the impact of more than 3 million brain injuries that occur each year, many of which are associated with college athletics programs.

A second critical factor is the presence of an established organizing structure. In particular, the Big Ten Athletic Conference and the Ivy League came together to improve traumatic brain injury prevention, detection, and treatment strategies. While this project aligns with athletic conferences, it is enabled by the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), which is a consortium of the Big Ten member universities plus the University of Chicago. The CIC has been in place for more than 50 years, enabling the member institutions to advance their academic missions by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs.

A third factor is the ability to govern, fund, and staff the project quickly and equitably. CIC is governed and funded by the Provosts of the member universities, and coordinated by a staff from its Champaign, Illinois headquarters. Thus the project had a natural, established home. This governing body allowed for focused goals and focused approaches implemented in coordinated ways.

Most of these factors exist primarily outside of research development. So a fourth important factor is to make a case for research and scholarship, and to leverage the resources established for the program. In this case, having a larger sample size of athletes with potential traumatic brain injuries enabled use of evidence-based, clinical protocols. These protocols may lead to collaboration with the Department of Defense, allowing for comparison of TBI based on a greater number of factors.

Finally, the University of Nebraska was in a position to provide leadership as well as physical resources to create a Center for Brain Biology and Behavior, which is attached to their Athletics Performance Lab (all within the football stadium). This strengthens their research program and provides even greater resources to the overall TBI Project. This project has already resulted in 22 research collaboration efforts and 12 distinct sources of funding.

Some of the challenges include:

  1. Increased competition for limited federal funds
  2. Balancing tensions between collaboration and competition
  3. Lack of equity in the institutional contributions of seed funding and other support toward the project.

Ultimately, the presenters expect that a strong focus on common goals will be the key to the success of their project.

NORDP 2015 Conference Report: Building an NIH Portfolio Without a Local Medical School

By Karen Markin, PhD, Director of Research Development, University of Rhode Island
To build a portfolio of grants from the National Institutes of Health at an institution without a medical school, it is essential to understand the agency’s mission, according to Janet E. Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research development at the University of Tennessee. That mission is to seek knowledge that enhances health, lengthens life and reduces illness and disability.

Nelson was one of three panelists who discussed strategic planning for successful grant-seeking from NIH in an increasingly competitive environment. The panel was part of NORDP’s annual Research Development Conference in Bethesda, MD.

Award rates at NIH are falling, noted Jennifer L. Webster, manager of strategic research initiatives at the University of Tennessee. However, it is still making grants focused on certain initiatives, including precision medicine, antibiotic resistance, cancer, brain research, Alzheimer’s disease and new vaccines.

Institutions without medical schools can compete by focusing on their strengths relative to other institutions. Panelists urged participants to think about the unique strengths of their institutions. For example, panelists Meredith Murr said the University of California at Santa Barbara has a top engineering department with talents it can leverage into NIH awards. The institution also hires strategically, focusing on medical researchers, and buildings collaborations outside the university.

Other tips from the panelists:

  • Invite an NIH program officer to speak at your campus.
  • Organize quarterly networking events and involve off-campus groups
  • Conduct red-team reviews on grant proposals.
  • Offer proposal development workshops.