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  August 30, 2004

Report Advocates Changes In Research Administration

A committee appointed by President Philip E. Austin has recommended major revisions in the research administration to improve service to faculty; oversight of the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP); and strategies for technology transfer.

The report, issued in May, also calls for development of increasingly seamless relations between the Health Center and the Storrs campus.

"Although in some cases achieving these goals will require additional University support," the report says, "we believe that the implementation of our recommendations will not only remedy specific problems that currently exist, but also help the University attain its stated goal of raising its research stature within the cohort of top universities in the country."

Austin says the report will be implemented by Interim Provost Fred Maryanski and Janet L. Greger, vice provost for research and graduate education, beginning this fall.

"The committee has served the University well," says Austin. "The report presents a thoughtful, well balanced analysis, and gives us a strong foundation as we work to strengthen our support for research and move ahead as a major center of academic inquiry. I am grateful to Professor David Herzberger for his skilled chairmanship, and to the committee's members for their dedication and perception."

Key recommendations include:

  • Affirming UConn's and federal requirements that principal investigators or program directors are responsible - and accountable - for their grants management;

  • Reorganizing OSP to improve customer service.

  • Strengthening OSP's capabilities in order to improve reporting, provide guidance to faculty on such topics as allowable charges, spending rates, and deadlines; and recover costs for such things as technical services or products.

  • Improving the new faculty orientation, and creating institutional helpline programs to keep department heads and others abreast of changes and current issues in research.

  • Strengthening University centers with researchers from more than one school and more than $1 million in research expenditures by having them report to the vice provost for research and graduate education.

  • Creating an issues group, composed of both faculty and OSP staff, to discuss external funding on a regular basis.

  • Revamping the University's policies on earmark funding, indirect cost recovery rates, and allocation of indirect costs recovered;

  • Setting up a new accounting system that is easy for users.

The committee's recommendations for reorganizing OSP were completed this summer. "Post-awards services are now organized into teams that work with individual departments and colleges on matters such as unallowable charges, spending rates, overdrafts, and impending deadlines," says Greger.

"Our discussions have been shaped by goals that we believe are widely shared," the report says, "first, to bring university procedures into compliance with federal regulations; second, to provide the resources necessary for researchers to carry out their work efficiently; and third, to enhance the research potential of the University as a whole."

Members of the committee, in addition to Herzberger, were: Robert Birge, Harold S. Schwenk Sr. Distinguished Chair of Biological Chemistry; Anthony DiBenedetto, emeritus University Professor of chemical engineering; Carol Lammi-Keefe, professor of nutritional sciences; Charles Lowe, professor and head of psychology; Philip Marcus, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology; and William Stwalley, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and head of physics.