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30 Years in Research Administration, 30 Years in Service to Others, 30 Years in Helping Research Happen

By SRAI News posted 01-14-2020 05:02 PM


30 Years in Research Administration, 30 Years in Service to Others, 30 Years in Helping Research Happen

Mark Hochman received the 2019 SRAI Herbert B. Chermside Award at the 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The award is presented to showcase distinguished contributions in the development of research administration as a profession. Read below Mark's acceptance speech from the ceremony. 

The 2020 SRAI Awards process is open. Nominate your peers and recognize their contributions not only to SRAI but to the profession of Research Administration! For more information, see here

I feel very honored to accept this award and would like to take the opportunity to say a few words reflecting on my story in research administration and also to thank a number of people for their support along the way.

I have been in research administration for 30 years, starting on September 25, 1989. I remember the first day distinctly as I was shown to a windowless, basement office and given a file several inches thick and told, “read this, it will have all the information you need to make a start!” I remember the following weeks as I was told that I was the manager of the Research Office. I was also the secretary – and the pre-award specialist, and the post-award specialist – in fact, I was the Research Office! Over time the office grew to 40 people covering all aspects of research administration and I was fortunate enough to grow with it!

Trying to explain what it was I did was a challenge! I remember trying to explain to friends what it was I did and seeing how they looked more confused after my explanations than before I had opened my mouth. I particularly recall coming home one night in the early days and one of my children asking me “what did you do today dad?” “Well”, I replied, “I answered all these phone calls, did some emails, met all these people and attended all these meetings.” There was a pause and then they asked again, “but what did you really do today dad?” “Well” I replied, I answered all these phone calls, did some emails …..” “Gosh,” they replied, “you must have a boring job!” It was at that point I realized there was a difference between describing what I did and the purpose of why I did what I did. So, I set the office a task – to describe the purpose of what we did in simple language that others could understand. After a full day, we came up with a three-word description “helping research happen!” We don’t do the research, but we help it happen! This also became the theme for the very first ARMS conference in Australia in 1999.

Let’s fast forward 30 years to today. Has anything changed? Well, I was notified of this award several weeks ago and when I told my wife (of whom I will say later), she immediately texted on the familyhood WhatsApp chat group to about 15 or 20 people saying, “Hey everyone, Dad’s just got this really prestigious award from the US. We still don’t know what he does, but whatever it is, he must be pretty good at it!”

Whatever it is that we do, even if we can’t fully explain it, at the heart it is service to others and serving others is the most noble calling – let us not forget that but be proud of it, that we have opportunity to serve others and make a difference.

There are many people that I need to thank but in the interests of time, I will keep it short. First and foremost is my colleague and friend, Debra Schaller-Demers, who nominated me for this award. We have been working together since co-hosting the 2012 Orlando annual meeting and she and Rick have become good friends to my wife Rosemary and myself. Similarly, Annedorte Vad and her husband Steffen, have become good friends – that is what SRAI can do beyond the profession.

I have been fortunate to serve on the SRAI Board under several presidents – Jim Hanlon, Sandra Nordahl, John Westensee, Cindy Kiel and now Kim Carter – each has been different, but I have learned from each one of them.

And lastly, but most importantly, I have great pleasure in publicly thanking my wife Rosemary. In a good personal relationship, you not only comfort and support each other but you shape each other’s character – and she has shaped my character for good over 40 years of marriage.

So, once again, thank you for this recognition and enjoy the rest of the Annual Meeting.

Authored by Mark B. Hochman PhD, Director
Research Management Resources