Summary of Review Findings Office of Research & Sponsored Programs: Campus Notice

During spring 2014, I commissioned a review of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP). The qualitative and quantitative review was conducted by Assistant Vice President Ismael Perez utilizing surveys, direct conversations with a number of individuals including the two key staff in ORSP, super users (staff who have historically had numerous interactions with the office), a sampling of other college faculty and administrators, sister CUNY colleges and The CUNY Research Foundation. The review was conducted in the spring and summer and the findings were reported out to me in late fall.

I am writing to you now to share some of the key findings and to let you know what actions the College will take to respond to some of the issues that have emerged from that study that will enhance and improve the office's productivity.

There are four sets of findings which fall roughly into the following categories: office and staff realignment and branding; improving communication; providing more robust support to faculty through training and other opportunities; and rethinking fiscal policies with a view to sharing a portion of indirect recoveries with departments and or principal investigators.

  1. Realigning and Rebranding Office and Staff:
    1. Vice President Thomas has been charged with identifying new space to bring all members of the ORSP into a single area, which will also accommodate a workspace for faculty and staff using the office;
    2. Hire an additional staff member at the level of an assistant director to ensure that there are at least two ORSP staff members who can provide program development and management support to faculty. The College will also provide support staff to the office;
    3. Establish clear lines of authority. All staff in the OSRP will report to the director, who will report to the Provost;
    4. The role and responsibility of each staff member will be clarified.
  2. Improving Communication:
    1. Resume communication best practices including the quarterly publication of a newsletter, revising and updating regularly the office's website, reinstating the annual recognition ceremony and similar other activities, as well as publicizing the websites of non-profit organizations where monthly updates and information about new listings can be obtained;
    2. In collaboration with academic departments and college units, establish grant productivity outcomes by unit;
    3. Revise ORSP website to include detailed information about grant submission process and services the office provides.
  3. Enhancing Faculty Support and Training:
    1. Utilize the services of Hanover Associates, with which the College has contracted recently to provide training and support to faculty and staff via grant writing and application workshops and also to identify grant opportunities;
    2. Establish effective systems to help faculty be aware of deadlines for preparing and submitting grants, and to keep faculty on track to meet those deadlines;
    3. Consider establishing a committee of experienced researchers to review grants prior to submission and provide feedback to colleagues;
    4. Support the recruitment of faculty with successful grant writing and research experience, when possible and appropriate.
  4. Creating New Fiscal Policies:
    1. Create and implement policies to share indirect cost recoveries with departments and/or principal investigators to be used at their discretion for items such as travel to present research, seed funding for new research; and to support the maintenance of lab equipment;
    2. Provide OTPS bridge funding on a competitive basis.

We expect to initiate the plan immediately and roll out the entire plan over the next six to twelve months. A mid-year review will be conducted in July 2015 and an annual review in January 2016. Thereafter, the ORSP will be placed on a review cycle in keeping with the plan to review all administrative units routinely, which was established by the Office of Research and Institutional Assessment. The existing members of the ORSP have had an opportunity to review the report and will be responsible for carrying out significant elements of the plan under the guidance of the Provost. New staff members will be oriented in due course.

In taking these actions we expect to see significant improvement in the operation of the ORSP and the widening of the culture of grant productivity at York College, which will accrue to the academic benefit of students and the professional vibrancy of faculty and staff.