The recommendations stemming from the review of research grant and support services have been approved by the Board of Regents as part of the effort to build a Strategic Research Intensity Plan for Memorial University.
The plan calls for Memorial to identify and reduce the barriers to greater research intensity with the overall goal of attracting and retaining highly qualified faculty and students. The first barrier addressed in the course of this plan relates to the findings of the research support services review and involves the need for superior customer service and streamlined grant and contract processes.
The board approved the 13 recommendations for improving research grant and contract support services, including streamlining and simplifying processes, empowering academic units on all campuses and providing a superior customer service experience wherever possible. These recommendations will be implemented throughout the next 12 months.
The first recommendation to be implemented is the reorganization of research support services.
“During the review process, many researchers indicated that there was significant confusion related to the process of submitting grant applications or contract proposals,” explained Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research). “Based on the feedback we received during the review and in consultation with stakeholders, we have prioritized making changes to research administration to make it easier for researchers to avail of our resources and to improve the customer service experience.”
As of Dec. 5, 2013, the Office of Collaborations and Partnerships and the Office of Research Services have been dissolved and two new units have been created to simplify the grant and contract administration process.
Research Grant and Contract Services (RGCS), under the leadership of Dave Miller, will be responsible for all grants and contracts, except those offered by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Canada Research Chairs Secretariat. Major Research Partnerships will also fall within RGCS.
CREAIT, CRC and CFI Services (CCCS), led by Dr. Marlies Rise, will be the institutional point of contact for the Canada Research Chairs Program and CFI funding. CREAIT, Memorial’s pan-university network of major research equipment, will be a strategic part of this office.
No positions were lost as a part of this reorganization. In addition to the new units, the Office of the Vice-President (Research) will be requesting a modest investment in human resources and information technology software and systems in 2014-15 in order to strengthen the ability of the new units to provide superior customer services to all of their stakeholders.
A progressive transition to this new system will begin on Dec. 16. While there may be some slowdowns associated with the changeover, there will be no work stoppages.
“The implementation of this reorganization is the first priority and will be complete by January 2014. Following consultations, the next step is to present the Strategic Research Intensity Plan to the Board of Regents in March 2014,” said Dr. Marceau. “By April 2015, our target is to increase grant and contract success rate by 20 per cent and to expedite the opening of research accounts within one week.”
Consultations for the Strategic Research Intensity Plan will take place over coming months involving all faculties and schools on the St. John’s campus, and the Grenfell and Marine Institute campuses of Memorial University. The Labrador Institute will also be involved in this consultation.