Registration for inaugural symposium for research administrators now open

By Marsha Green

On May 26, grant administrators from across Duke will gather for the inaugural Symposium for Research Administrators – an event that will offer participants a host of professional workshops, discussion with peers and talks from experts in the field.

symposiumSponsored research funds now make up about 44 percent of Duke’s operating budget and there are more than 1,000 employees at Duke who spend at least a part of each day managing grants and navigating the labyrinth of regulations that define how the money is used and accounted for.

“This professional development opportunity is a huge recognition of the value of all these grant managers and what they do for Duke,” said Julie Cole, director of Research Costing Compliance and co-chair of the symposium program committee. “As a research university, we want to support our faculty by providing them with skilled, knowledgeable grant management personnel that really understand federal rules and regulations.”

The symposium, which will be held in the Bryan Center on West Campus, is limited to Duke staff. Registration for the event is required since space is limited to 400 participants.  

The day will begin with a plenary featuring welcoming remarks by Hof Milam, vice president for Finance and Treasurer, and a keynote address by Duke Head Football Coach David Cutcliffe talking about the importance of teamwork. Throughout the day participants will have the opportunity to hear presentations from local and national leaders in research administration organizations.

But at the heart of the symposium are 10 sessions offered by Duke central and departmental personnel. The Duke-specific topics range from new research administration tools on the Duke@Work site, to issues raised by Duke’s focus on globalization. There are three different breakout sessions during the day where participants can choose to attend one of the 10 sessions.

“We chose topics that are of high interest for people at Duke but that are not part of the standard training of a grant administrator,” Cole said.

The symposium is sponsored by the Research Administration Continuous Improvement (RACI) initiative, which Duke launched in 2007 following a comprehensive review of research administration at the university.

The idea of a local symposium first surfaced two years ago as a project among the first cohort of the Research Administrators Academy (RAA). Robert Caudle and Cindy Wicker recognized that while many of their colleagues at Duke are involved in professional research administration organizations, it is often difficult to find the time and resources to attend the annual meetings. They researched local resources and created a poster outlining how a Duke symposium could provide grant managers an opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns and opinions while being introduced to tools, systems and best practices of the trade.  

These students, along with graduates from the December 2009 RAA and the Spring 2010 Research Administrators Institute (RAI) will be honored at a recognition luncheon during the symposium.

According to Jim Luther, assistant vice president for Cost and Reimbursement Accounting, an on-site symposium not only makes it easier for employees to gain the knowledge and current information needed to do their jobs, but it is also a celebration of the hard work and dedication these individuals provide in support of Duke’s mission.

“As a major research university, we are continually asking what is the best way to manage research,” he said. “As Duke continues to explore new and innovative ways to support research and manage compliance, events like the symposium will go a long way to creating a sense of community among those who works so hard to make these endeavors a success.”

Symposium registration details and descriptions of workshops sessions are available on the Symposium website.