Improving Research Administration and Faculty Research Development through Sustainable Initiatives at St. Mary's University (StMU). StMU external funding portfolio has doubled over the last two and a half years from $4,024,157 million in FY 2011 to $9,212,659 million as of October 1, 2014. This expansion may be attributed to new administration at all levels, the desire to have a more balanced portfolio between teaching and research, the emergence of new disciplines at the university, and the entry of a large group of STEM faculty over the past five years. However, this expansion 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 the StMU research administration office has been successful in making a number of improvements over the last few years, such as electronic research administration, the overall investment in research administration support structure has not kept pace with the expectations or 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 StMU reveal several areas that need to be addressed in order to provide efficient and effective services to the faculty. Because StMU is a Primarily Undergraduate Institution it is very difficult for faculty to balance their relatively high teachin loads (4 courses per semester), their mentoring of students, and their other commitments to their departments. If faculty members had release time from teaching duties to engage in intense research proposal development it would be productive way to increase grant submissions. Secondly, the StMU Office of Academic Research and Sponsored Programs (OARSP) has only one full time staff, the Executive Director, a 3/4 time administration support person, and one part-time post-award support person. At a university of the size and scope of St. Mary's, additional support is needed in the pre- and post-award support, grant writing, and compliance and training. Because of limited staffing it is difficult for OARSP to provide the level of service to research faculty that is needed if StMU is to continue to grow and be successful in acquiring funding. The application for funding contained herein proposes three goals to address the current weaknesses in StMU 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, training on use of the electronic grant administration, enhancing related resources for new investigators and hiring a FTE for research administration); 2) To strengthen post-award services (i.e., workshops targeting post-award issues for faculty, developing our website with more on-line sources of information regarding regulatory issues, attending NCURA or SRA workshops on post-award procedures) 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, including 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. grat 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 policies and procedures and, lastly, 4) The creation of a program to recruit and train new research administration personnel.
St. Mary's University is the oldest Catholic University in Texas and embraces diversity, serving a 78% minority undergraduate student population (72% Hispanic).The San Antonio (SA) area is booming with industries that require a postsecondary education in biomedical and biobehaviorial fields, and the city has established an 'SA2020' initiative to provide the community with secure jobs in key markets. This project will enhance the research infrastructure capacity at this minority-serving institution, create training and career development opportunities to nurture research administrators and faculty at all levels, and develop programs to prepare students (majority Hispanic) to be involved in health and health disparity research and research administration.