Gearing up to provide all CLAS units with pre- and post-award grant support

Kristi Fitzpatrick
Kristi Fitzpatrick, Director,
CLAS Grant Support Office

In 2019, the Grant Support Office (GSO) was tasked with developing a vision for how it could best support the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ research mission across all departments, while also being mindful of our limited resources. As the centralization of grant support in the college is still a new initiative, the extent of grant support capacity remains uneven across departments, generally in line with their past submission activity.

Our primary goal is to develop a staffing structure that would allow every department to have dedicated staff to help prepare and submit proposals (pre-award), as well as to support grant recipients with managing the funds (post-award). After researching how grant support is organized at other institutions, as well as reviewing best-practice recommendations from professional organizations such as the Society of Research Administrators and the National Organization of Research Development Professionals, it became clear that there is not one “right” way to organize grant services.

We are excited to move forward with a structure that retains pre- and post-award services under the GSO umbrella, but splits our personnel into two teams. Once our vision has been fully implemented, every department will have one pre-award and one post-award professional person assigned to their unit.  As much as possible, pre- and post-award staff members will be paired to support the same group of departments so that they can back each other up and ensure continuity of support in the event that one of them must be out of the office. This will also allow us to cater to the strengths of each staff member’s skillset and allow them to develop deep expertise in their areas of responsibility. This will be critical for our goal of alleviating some of the ever-increasing administrative burden of applying for and managing grants.    

Pre-award staff assist with the proposal development process by:

  • identifying funding opportunities
  • interpreting grant application guidelines and developing checklists and timelines
  • providing institutional information, drafting boilerplate language, and  reviewing proposals for compliance and responsiveness
  • developing budgets and budget justifications and documenting cost-sharing
  • proofreading documents
  • managing electronic upload and submission, including UIRIS routing forms and other UI internal processes

Post-award staff assist with the grant management process by:

  • managing budgets, providing projections, and processing subaward agreements
  • navigating internal compliance requirements by coordinating with the Division of Sponsored Programs, Grant Accounting and other UI units
  • facilitating budget revisions, no-cost extensions, and other sponsor documents
  • providing information for progress reports and managing project closeout

I am pleased to report that we are making progress towards implementing this vision. We just hired two new staff members (one filling a vacant position and one a new, additional position) and are in the process of shifting responsibilities so that we can expand coverage to those departments that have lacked comprehensive support.  If you are in one of these departments, you will be hearing from us in the near future!  Check this space in the March issue of Research Resource as we will feature the college’s impressive pre-award staff and share some tips for how researchers can take full advantage of their skills and expertise.

Kristi Fitzpatrick
Director, CLAS Grant Support Office