2016 Conference Cameo: Donna Scott Tilley

In the weeks preceding the NORDP Annual Conference in Orlando, we’ll feature “Conference Cameos” on the blog. Conference Cameos are first-person perspectives submitted by registered Conference attendees. You can look forward to seeing these fellow RD professionals at the Conference!

Don’t forget – registration fees increase on March 1. Secure your Early Bird discount by registering for the Conference today.

Who: Donna Scott Tilley, PhD, Assistant Provost and ProfessorDonna Scott Tilley, Texas Woman's University
Where: Texas Woman’s University
Number of years in research development: 2 years
Length of NORDP membership: 2 years
Number of NORDP conferences attended: 1

I took the position as Interim Assistant Provost for my university with the intent of going back to my teaching role when the university hired a permanent person. After about 6 months as interim, I started to really love the RD work. I applied for the permanent position and was delighted to be appointed. I oversee our Research and Sponsored Programs office. I work with the team to make sure we are using our limited resources in the best way possible to maximize faculty success in research. I work with individual faculty to help them plan their program of research, facilitate collaborations between and among faculty, and advocate for research with administration. When I started this position, our Director of Operations suggested membership in NORDP right away – she said it would be a great source of support and information, and she was right!

After attending my first NORDP conference last year in Bethesda, I was convinced that this would be one of my most valuable professional development tools. I went to the Regional meeting at the conference and was immediately greeted by colleagues from other universities in my area. It was so great to hear what other universities were doing and make connections. I now reach out to these colleagues when I have a question or concern, to hear their perspectives. In addition, the conference sessions I attended were perfect for me – many provided foundational information, and others were thought-provoking and helpful for long term planning about improving what we do. For example, my university has purchased resources that we first learned about at the conference, and I’ve changed our internal competition procedures based on sessions I attended.

Because of my great experience at my first conference, I am bringing several office staff to Orlando for this year’s conference. I am looking forward to the networking and the sessions – there is so much to learn about this job!

My advice to first-time conference attendees is: Don’t sit with the same people at every session – mix it up and meet new people. Go to your regional group meeting and talk to people. Don’t skip sessions, even if you think they might not be directly applicable to your institution. Even if they don’t directly apply, there will be some little pearl of wisdom you can use. Have fun!


We hope to see you at the 2016 NORDP Research Development Conference, which will be held May 23-25 in Orlando, FL. For more information about the conference program or to register, visit http://www.nordp.org/conferences. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest 2016 Conference updates.

If you’d like to be featured in a Conference Cameo, let us know at rdconf@nordp.org.


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 rdconf@nordp.org 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, agnoli.1@osu.edu, 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

2016 Conference Registration Now Open!

Registration for the 2016 NORDP Conference in Orlando is now open! Register today to lock in Early Bird pricing and to secure your spot in one of our limited-enrollment pre-conference workshops.

Early Bird registration for NORDP members is $470. Non-members pay $620, which includes a complimentary one-year membership in NORDP.

We also are offering pre-conference workshops on Monday morning, May 23, for $160, and a Special Interactive Session on Creative Uncertainty, hosted by TED speaker Julie Burstein, on Monday afternoon for just $50. Enrollment is extremely limited for both the workshops and the Special Interactive Session, so be sure to secure your spot when registering for the conference.

Click here to register!

Prices go up March 1, 2016.

You may also view the full Schedule-At-A-Glance (subject to change).

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.

2016 NORDP Conference Fees, Hotel and Travel Scholarship Info — Registration Opens Next Week!

Registration for the 2016 NORDP Conference in Orlando opens next week on January 13! We’re pleased to announce the 2016 NORDP Conference fee schedule, to assist you with budgeting for your trip to Orlando this May.

2016NORDPConf fees

Travel Scholarships Available for NORDP Members!
As in previous years, we are offering Conference travel scholarships to active NORDP members in good standing. NORDP Members may apply for a partial scholarship to support their attendance at the conference. Please click here to apply.

Hotel Accommodations:
The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, just one mile from Walt Disney World Resort. To take advantage of our special discounted conference rate, book your room now using our NORDP hotel reservations website (select “Attendee” from the dropdown menu).

Stay Informed!
Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter for all the latest conference updates , including featured speaker confirmations, registration links and more.

We look forward to seeing you in sunny Orlando!

2016 NORDP Conference Featured Keynote Speaker: Julie Burstein, Creativity Guru, Bestselling Author and TED Speaker

Julie Burstein portrait
Photo Credit: Pavlina Richterova Perry

The 2016 NORDP Conference will feature two sessions led by the multitalented Julie Burstein, host of Spark Talks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and renowned creativity consultant. Ms. Burstein will join us in Orlando this May as both a keynote speaker and leader of a special interactive pre-conference session – a first in NORDP Conference history.

Ms. Burstein is a Peabody Award-winning radio producer, TED speaker, and best-selling author who has spent her working life in conversation with highly creative people – interviewing, probing, guiding, and creating live events and public radio programs about them and their work.  In her book Spark: How Creativity Works, Julie offers a tour through some of creativity’s essential byways: shining a beam onto its mysterious workings in a way that is illuminating and can help us find more of that dimension within ourselves, and put it to good use in our roles as RD professionals.

Keynote Address: “Creative Friction”
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 (morning Conference session)
Included in your NORDP Conference registration fee

Ms. Burstein’s keynote address will focus on the friction between different elements that sparks creativity and enables innovation to emerge.

Special Interactive Session:
Monday, May 23, 2016; 1:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern
Limited to 50 attendees – sign up when you register for the Conference!
Price: $50

In order to create anything new, we have to spend a lot of time experiencing something none of us can avoid (though many try): uncertainty.   In this workshop, Ms. Burstein will lead us in playing with uncertainty, expanding our capacity for not knowing what comes next, and developing the ability to live in the essential, sometimes maddening space that the poet John Keats calls “negative capability” – where we are “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason…”  Learn to dance with uncertainty – and expand your creativity – in this special interactive session!

Registration opens next week, and we’ll be posting fee information soon to assist you with budgeting for the Conference. Follow @NORDP_official on Twitter to stay in the know as we confirm additional 2016 Conference speakers!


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 goes to SRA

By Gretchen Kiser

Last month, Oct.17-21, NORDP members presented a poster at the SRA International conference in Las Vegas. Terri Solberg, Lorraine Mulfinger, Ann McGuigan, and I authored the poster, covering the highlights from our recent analysis of the NORDP 2015 annual salary survey (members-only detailed information can be found here). The poster also presented some basics of research development (RD) and the RD professional, as well as NORDP as an organization. Lorraine and I were both in attendance, and we can tell you that the poster received much interest.  Many of the SRA attendees that visited the poster were RD professionals and just didn’t know it; they appreciated knowing there was an organization of like peers and were interested in learning more. Everyone who visited the poster was very interested in the salary information and found the potential of a salary calculator tool very helpful.  We had 80 take-away poster handouts and every one of them was distributed!

Notably, there was also a poster and associated presentation from Jennifer Sambrook et al. that described a meta-analysis of research administrator (RA) survey data across time (including data from a 1968 SRA survey). They described several interesting trends within the ranks of research administrators: RAs have gone from being primarily male in 1968 to predominantly female in 2015, the average age of an RA is increasing, the number of RAs with a Master’s degree in on the upward trend, and salaries in the last five years have not changed much and sit around 40% with a median salary between $50K and $75K (with another 25% between $75K and $100K). Interestingly, the NORDP salary survey showed that the majority of RD professionals’ salaries are similarly distributed, even though the highest degree earned is significantly higher – 37% of RAs are Bachelor degree holders vs. 9% of RD professionals; 46% of RAs are Masters degree holders vs. ~52% of RD professionals; and 9% of RAs are Doctoral degree holders vs. 37% of RD professionals.  Hmm…

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