Message From the President

By Vivian Holmes posted 01-24-2014 14:36 good.


Living in New England means living with perpetual change.  We glide our toes back into snow boots (always too soon) and our seasons melt from one into another – baseball, football, basketball, hockey...and then back again.  NCURA is similar; we’ve grown accustomed to our various annual gatherings and, personally and professionally, plan accordingly.


As NCURA members, 2014 marks the beginning of another very busy and exciting NCURA year including some first-time-ever’s, some very special events, and of course the long-awaited change to research administration in the form of OMB Circular A-81, otherwise referred to as the Omni-circular, the Uni-circular, or my favorite, “the Circular to end all Circulars.”


Just in case you haven’t been living on the edge with the Office of Management and Budget’s Proposed Guidance, it brings the most significant changes to research administration that any of us have seen by streamlining eight of the circulars that currently direct, and frequently mystify, us. OMB’s intent is that this Proposed Uniform Guidance “increase the efficiency and effectiveness of grant programs by eliminating unnecessary and duplicative requirements and strengthen the oversight of grant dollars by focusing on areas such as eligibility, monitoring of sub-recipients, adequate reporting, and other areas that are potential indices of waste, fraud or abuse.” The efforts of many NCURA members have been invested in developing the clarity we’ve desired. I write this from “the edge” as the final product has not yet been delivered. However NCURA has been at the ready with plans to address the imminent final document and historic occasion.  After all these years, one comprehensive streamlined policy guide sounds like a great change to me.


In March, we’re headed to the west coast for Financial Research Administration Conference (FRA) and Pre-Award Research Administration Conference (PRA).  San Francisco is an excellent location for these meetings and, as I understand, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated all across the city. The FRA Conference theme is “The Practical and the Possible.” This excellent program, co-chaired by Dave Lynch and Lisa Mosely, responds to challenges of post-award across multiple levels and tracks.  Directly following FRA will be the PRA Conference held during March 18-20.  As Co-Chairs, Tricia Callahan and Mary Louise Healy have developed a fantastic program based on their theme, “New Connections, New Horizons & New Skills.”  


International members representing NCURA’s Region VIII will be gathering for their first-ever regional meeting in Washington, DC!  This meeting, entitled “GOING GLOBAL: Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Synergies,” will be held on April 9th with keynote speaker Dr. Graham Harrison of the Office of International and Integrative Activities at the National Science Foundation.  The enthusiasm for this meeting is palpable with energy and ideas coming from all over the world.


Just as international research at our institutions has been growing rapidly, NCURA’s global presence and participation continues to develop. On April 10 – 13, 2014, the fifth biennial International Network of Research Management Societies (INORMS) Congress will be held in Washington, DC at the Washington Hilton.  The theme of the Congress is “Enabling the Global Research Enterprise from Policy to Practice.”  There will be three primary tracks: Policy, Practice, and Performance and participants will include senior university administrators and researchers, government policy-makers and senior managers from the national and international funding agencies. This conference is aimed at the senior members of the global research and innovation community.  This is the first time that the Congress has been held in North America and is being hosted by NCURA, CAURA, and SRA. We are so fortunate and proud to have NCURA past-president Dave Richardson serving as INORMS co-chair.


And speaking of change.....2014 will be NCURA’s 56th Annual Meeting and now the second one of this new tradition to be held in August.  As you recall, planning future November meeting dates in Washington, DC for thousands of attendees would no longer be financially viable as it was not possible to assume our institutions would be able to absorb the significant increase in costs.  Through all practical analysis, it was a “no-brainer.” But, would it harm our tradition, our habit to juggle Halloween, vote by absentee ballot, gamble on early autumn being kind and pleasant weather?  And those deadlines we were somehow even busier each November and our budgets for travel were getting tighter.  It all made sense but…. who knew it would go so well?!! President-elect Michelle Vazin and her team are well on their way in planning AM56 and it already looks great!  This change addressed our membership’s primary concern for sustaining the ability to attend the Annual Meeting as well as “send new folks” not to be hampered by prohibitive hotel costs.

The future is big and bright for NCURA and our agility and willingness to grow beyond our institutions, regions, and borders, defines us. The coming year brings opportunities for us to greet historic regulatory changes and experience new global collaborations – together.