Transforming research award support at KU

From: Alicia Reed, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research; Amy Carlson, Director, O'Leary Shared Service Center
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2021, 1:38 p.m.
To: KU Lawrence faculty

Dear Colleagues, 

The start of the new year presents a natural opportunity to celebrate our collective successes and set bold new goals for 2021. The KU research community has demonstrated resilience, creativity and perseverance while adapting the ways we conduct and support research during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you for your dedication through an exceptionally challenging year.

Now we ask for your partnership as we take steps to re-envision and transform research award support at KU. In 2021, we will work together to create a single, centralized service unit that provides award management support for the KU-Lawrence campus. The new unit — housed in the KU Office of Research — will combine grant support staff from KU’s Shared Service Centers and KU Research’s Post-Award Services unit under the leadership of a new associate director. A search for that position will begin soon. The unit’s ultimate goal will be to better support researchers by leveraging improved processes and technology and providing seamless, consistent service while reducing administrative burden.

This reorganization is a response to widespread feedback from KU researchers about roadblocks and dead ends in the current award support structure, as well as frustration expressed by research administration staff who don't always feel equipped to provide optimal service from their positions in disparate units with distinct processes and reporting structures.

To be clear, this project is not an effort to reduce staffing for cost savings, but to increase effective and efficient service to support research activities. As you have heard from KU leadership, the university is experiencing fiscal challenges that will impact campus in a variety of ways; it is unclear how these challenges will affect our units, but our goal is to use campus feedback to incorporate all existing research support positions into this new unit.

These staff members — along with other research-active and research-supporting stakeholders across campus — will help shape the unit by providing guidance through listening sessions and other feedback opportunities this spring. These forums will not be mere formalities; your expertise and perspective are essential to building every aspect of this unit and ensuring it achieves its goals. We will share information soon about how to contribute.

We recognize that change can create uncertainty. We hope to channel our collective energy into conversations and ideas that lead to a higher level of award support for KU researchers and greater job satisfaction for the staff who help manage their grants.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to collaborating.


Alicia and Amy

Alicia Reed 
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research

Amy Carlson 
Director, O’Leary Shared Service Center