Blog Viewer

My Desire to Give Back: Perspective, Perseverance, and Passion | by Rebecca Claycamp

By SRAI News posted 07-28-2021 01:08 PM


My Desire to Give Back: Perspective, Perseverance, and Passion | by Rebecca Claycamp

After more than 38 years in research administration, why on earth would I now want to be on the SRAI Board (again)?! That’s easy to answer for two reasons.  First, I want the opportunity to give back. I attribute many of my career opportunities and successes to my active involvement in SRAI. Finding new ways to experiment with different training concepts? SRAI! Breaking into the NIH? SRAI networks and connections! Second (and more importantly) I want to enhance SRAI’s education mission by furthering the most important lesson of COVID: research administrators need to be able to react to change instinctively, creatively, and continuously. The success of my career has been built on being a change agent. The next five years will bring profound change to research administration and SRAI. Our ability as a professional organization to think outside the box…to walk away from some things we have done “that way” for years and embrace totally different modes and mindsets…will dictate the future success of SRAI. The ability of the SRAI Board to appreciate and build on the differences of its membership is also key to that success.

Few research administrators bring to SRAI the combined breadth and depth of perspective that I do: 19 years as a departmental and central research administrator at three major research universities AND almost 19 years at the NIH…17 years as Chief GMO of the National Institute of Mental Health. Beyond being an SRAI Distinguished Faculty Member, I was a founding member of the NIH’s Grants Management University and am an active author of SRAI LevelUP modules. What does all this mean for my involvement on the Board? Let me start by telling a story.

My research administration presentations are typically laced with anecdotes and metaphors: one of my favorites is the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Six blind men walk up to an elephant wanting to describe it, but they have never experienced one. One man grabs the trunk and says the elephant is like a python. The next one takes the tail and says the elephant is like a rope. Still another touches a leg and says the elephant is like a tree trunk. A fourth man feels the tusk and insists the elephant is like a saber. A fifth one touches an ear and claims the elephant is like a large fan. The final man runs his hands along the side of the elephant and pronounces that the elephant is like a wall. They are all right and at the same time all wrong: perceptions have their limits, especially out of context. Nowhere is this more evident than research administration.

For the Board, my career and background would:

  • Bring the instinct to readily identify, appreciate, and take advantage of the differing perspectives of SRAI membership and staff.
  • Enhance creativity in possibilities and solutions.
  • Offer passion and enthusiasm for SRAI that is about the profession and not just about me.

Authored by Rebecca Claycamp, MS, CRA
Independent Consultant in Research Administration