Florida Atlantic University

Jeanne V.

Director, Research Development

Became an RA: The 2000's

There was an opening at a small college for a coordinator. When I interviewed, they told me the person they hired decided not to accept. I was second runner up! After being in the position for a week, I realized this was the job for me! I built the office from the ground up (there was none before — building the office was not in the job description). I went on to do it again at another brand new institution. I love working with faculty on their ideas. It was brings our profession into sharp clarity. We do it to advance science and understanding.

Miriam C.

Assistant Vice President for Research

Became an RA: The 1980's

I was a student at Florida International University pursuing a degree in Special Education. As most students I needed extra money for books and classes and applied for a part-time OPS position in the Division of Sponsored of Research and Training (DSRT). I had no idea what this office was all about, but I could do the job they were advertising for, which was to make copies, file, answer phones, deliver documents across campus, etc. This was in the 100% paper days of research administration, where the “Internal Clearance Form” as the proposal internal coversheet was called had to be hand delivered to obtain signatures from the PIs, Chair and Dean.

I was 20 years old when I started working in that office. Shortly after being there someone saw my potential and started teaching me about research administration. Mind you, it was not called research administration back then, nor was it a known profession. Six months into my employment a full-time position became available and they offered it to me and I took it. I worked in that same office for 15 years moving my way up as a grants assistant, grants specialist, senior grants specialist, coordinator of grants, grants manager and finally as the Assistant Director.

By this time, I was in love with research administration. I enjoyed working with faculty especially the most difficult ones. I took pride in being able to work with them and have them realize that our office was not the enemy, but the ones making sure rules were followed. I also had a win-win attitude and faculty learned that I would find the correct way to accomplish what they needed and wanted to do to fulfill their project successfully.

After 15 years in DSRT, I was recruited by one of those “difficult faculty” to be an Associate Director and manage all things grants, accounting, purchasing, and HR for a $35M grant funded environmental research center with over 100 employees. I worked there for five years. My career then took me to University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK) as Director of Sponsored Programs for the central office and after 10 years at UTK, I came back home to FL. I am now the Assistant Vice President for Research overseeing the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Throughout my very long career in Research Administration I have enjoyed it immensely. I have seen it grow from what was known as an administrative type positions to a profession that now has Master’s degree in the field of Research Administration. I have seen the submission of 20+ copies of one proposal submitted to federal agencies via FedEx (or in some cases, hand delivered) to submitting electronically from our own computer. I have also seen how the number of regulations and compliance has increased.

I still love my research administration profession and career. If I had to do my life over again, I would not change a thing. I believe that research is the key to making everything better and I am thankful to be part of it.