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50th Anniversary Recap: Founders’ View on SRAI’s Creation, Principles and Vision - Part 3

By SRAI News posted 03-29-2018 12:00 AM


Lawrie_RobertsonAuthored by:
Lawrie Robertson
Retired Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration
University of Washington

This is Part 3 of a 3-part article. For Part 2 from February's Catalyst, please see here. For Part 1 from January's Catalyst, please see here.

Going Forward in the Coming Decade:

All of our interviewees stressed the challenges of growth, change, and complexity. They caution that SRAI must not lose the personal touch of face-to-face meetings or our ability to identify means for individual members to quickly actively engage. Often as important as formal program content is personal network creation. Like the founders, they urged SRAI meeting planners continue to make lots of space for personal network building. They stressed the need to find affordable ways for those new to the profession gain access to valuable content and a big picture perspective. To remain the Society of choice, SRAI leaders must be mindful to identify emerging member requirements early and develop creative strategies in responding nimbly. As a global society, SRAI should continue to reach out to sister societies serving as connector to knowledge and expertise. As that “trusted partner,” SRAI should remain as a facilitator for minimizing the administrative barriers to international research collaborations. We need to make it easier for research managers to work confidently globally. Importantly, SRAI must continue to give attention to enhancing the public’s understanding of the value of research and our role in its effective management.

Growth just to grow is not a panacea. Our interviewees indicated the need to maintain our member-centered core values (serving research, inclusiveness, diversity, openness to innovation, building personal networks), remain nimble, and be proactive to emerging trends. They urged us to continue to offer an array of ways to accomplish this. These include using the technologies that people turn to, valuing both smaller as well as larger meetings, informing the broader public, listening to our membership to better at serving them, avoiding the corrosive influence artery hardening bureaucratic centralism, remaining bold, confident in taking risks, assessing emerging patterns (horizontally and vertically), and being clear in what we do and can do best. Sustainability depends on ensuring that those who sponsor staff to attend meetings can easily see this investment’s value. We should communicate how SRAI meeting experiences can lead employers to understand how allowing staff to escape from local issues, gain others’ perspective to expand our own, add to the skills toolkit, pushing out podcasts and other services throughout the year, and promote creating expert resources. In short, strengthening the impact of their staff’s work and those they influence.

Looking forward, they urged SRAI to stay ahead of the curve SRAI. It should be a catalyst for creative pilots and novel arrangements to support our researchers. Our breadth of members can help colleagues to be more impactful in working across disciplines, institutions or borders. SRAI also has an opportunity to be repository of knowledge, best practices, and subject matter experts – a conduit of knowledge creation and distribution. Trustworthy information is a powerful currency.

In conclusion, those interviewed from our founders through our current leaders are optimistic about SRAI’s future so long as we are guided by sustained values and a willingness to remain proactive and innovative.