UTB's research portfolio has grown significantly over the last several years and this has placed tremendous pressure on its research administrative infrastructure. In addition, federal regulations and external pressure for fiscal and regulatory accountability have complicated the research administration environment over the last decade. Although UTB's research administration office has been successful in making a number of improvements over the last few years, the overall investment in research administration support structure has not kept pace with the growth in the sponsored program portfolio. Further, as the competitiveness for grant funds increases, it becomes more important for a successful research university to have the best support structure to increase the institutions and the faculty's competitiveness. Review of current research administrative processes at UTB reveal several areas that need to be addressed in order to provide efficient and effective services to the faculty. For example, research faculty has insufficient release time from teaching duties to engage in intense research proposal development. Because UTB is a Primarily Undergraduate Institution (PUI) it is very difficult for faculty to balance their relatively high teaching loads,their mentoring of students, and their other commitments to their departments. Secondly, the UTB Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) has only three full-time staff;a director, one pre-award support person and one post-award support person. Because of limited staffing it is difficult for OSP to provide the level of service to research faculty that is needed if UTB is to continue to grow and be successful in acquiring funding. The application for funding contained herein proposes three goals to ameliorate the current weaknesses in UTB's management of the pre and post award processes related to the administration of external sponsored research;1) To improve the proposal development services to the faculty (i.e. providing grant training workshops, enhancing related resources for new investigators;2) To strengthen post-award services (i.e., workshops targeting post-award issues, developing on-line sources of information regarding regulatory issues) and 3) To promote the sustainability of improvements made to the research administration process through the implementation of ongoing professional development / training for research faculty, administrators and students. In order to accomplish the goals of this project and to promote sustainability a series of activities are planned, includig but not limited to, 1) The training of the PI/EA to become a leader of both short-term and long-term change, 2) Establishing regular training opportunities for research faculty and administrative staff (i.e. grant writing, compliance training, and grants management workshops, and the provision of support for faculty to concentrate on proposal development, 3) The development of an up-to-the date resource library for grants administration and, lastly, 4) The creation of a program to recruit and train new research administration personnel.
Located in the southernmost tip of Texas, UTB resides in a largely underserved border region that is in great need of biomedical research targeting areas such as diabetes, obesity and nutrition, infectious diseases, neurological diseases, heart disease, and cancer. Currently, UTB comprises the strongest group of scientists performing biomedical research south of San Antonio. This project will enhance the research infrastructure capacity at this minority-serving institution, create training and career development opportunities to nurture research administrators at all levels and develop programs to prepare students (majority Hispanic) to be involved in health and health disparity research administration.