Throughout the strategic planning process, faculty and staff across Arts & Sciences expressed the need for more resources in the critical area of grant administration. Grant administrators keep the wheels of sponsored projects turning smoothly, assisting faculty at every stage of the complex process of securing grants and ensuring faculty have the resources they need to conduct research, scholarship, and creative projects, outfit labs and studios, and support the students and staff working alongside them. However, the infrastructure and processes surrounding grant administration have been fragmented in the past, resulting in uneven coverage across departments.
“Faculty and staff voiced concerns and shared really insightful, constructive feedback during the strategic planning process,” said William Tolman, Vice Dean of Research and Entrepreneurship. “The comments we received have been instrumental in helping us identify and address some real structural weaknesses in sponsored project support within A&S.”
As part of this response, Arts & Sciences is launching the Grants Administration Integrated Network (GAIN), led by Ryan Dodd, Director of Research Development and Administration. GAIN aims to strengthen the connections and team dynamic among grant administrators across A&S and ensure these essential staff members have the support they need to provide best-in-class service.
“One of the goals of our strategic plan is operational excellence – we want to work on improving and enhancing services – and GAIN is part of that,” Dodd said. “We want to provide exceptional grant administrative services. GAIN is a means to achieving that goal. By creating an integrated team of administrators, we can work together on improving processes, addressing challenges, and enhancing coverage.”
Since joining Arts & Sciences in 2021, Dodd has been working with Tolman to develop a new and improved model for grant administration. By strengthening administrators’ connections across departments without relocating staff to a separate cluster, GAIN leverages the expertise of each member of the network to the benefit of the whole, while also sustaining the productive relationships admins have built with faculty in their home departments.
“The process improvements we’re starting to roll out now will hopefully lead to a more streamlined, smoother experience for everyone involved,” said Tolman.
In the first phase of launching GAIN, Dodd is bringing grant administrators from the natural sciences into the new network. Large science departments typically see a higher volume of grants than the humanities, where some units already take advantage of an effective integrated model for grant administration. GAIN expands on the successes of that model.
“We’re not moving people from their current departments or reassigning them to faculty they’re not used to working with. The only thing that’s really changing is the reporting structure,” Dodd explained. “We’re integrating all our grant admins into a unified team, so we can communicate better, share resources, provide thought leadership in different areas, and work together to address our strategic priorities.”