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Creating a New Unified Office of Sponsored Programs

Dr. Steven Youngentob

One of the important strategic goals outlined in the Infrastructure section of the Operational Strategic Plan for Research was the unification, under the Office of Research, of all existing pre- and post-award functions, as well as additional activities directly re- lated to the research enterprise. This unification process also included the development of sponsored programs offices at the Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Nashville regional campuses that are fully integrated into the overarching mission of the central Memphis office. In so doing, the UTHSC Office of Research, in conjunction with other newly developed services, would provide support for all activities associated with an agreement, grant or clinical trial life cycle (e.g., identify research funding sources, grant writing, proposal editing services, proposal development and submission, award management, specialized contracting, and compliance). This centralization of services would give PIs a cradle to grave single point of contact for their research activities, sponsored programs or otherwise.

The Office of Research is pleased to announce that the unification process is currently underway. On May 15th, sponsored programs staff previously under Finance were transferred (both physically and administratively) to a newly created unified Office of Sponsored Programs (previously Grants and Research Agreements). Additionally, on July 28th, information was mass-distributed electronically to the campus outlining the consolidation of services and the specific activities that were moved from the Office of Finance to the Office of Research. Briefly, all research related processes previously administered by Sponsored Projects Accounting will now fall under the aegis of the unified Office of Sponsored Programs. Further, additional research specific related activities, of note, that have moved to the new unified office include Data Use Agreements, Equipment Release Requests, and Research Agreements.

Of course, geographic relocation of staff is not enough to achieve the desired goals of enhancing customer satisfaction and the timeliness of research administration services. As such, two major recruiting initiatives are underway. First, we are currently engaged in a national search for an Associate Vice Chancellor for Research – Office of Sponsored Programs. This newly created position will provide leadership, support and strategic direction for all sponsored programs administration at UTHSC, and its regional campuses. A key function of this position will be the development of policies and procedures for process improvements and the metrics for tracking improvements in all aspects of OSP activities. Second, we are also in the process of expanding staffing across all aspects of sponsored programs activities. Taken together, the goal of these initiatives is to create a seamless, efficient, and transparent infrastructure for sponsored program activities that fully supports the research mission of the UTHSC.

-Steven Youngentob, PhD, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor