SRAI Divisions – Connecting SRAI with its Members During COVID
The SRAI Professional Divisions is one way that the Society helps to ensure its programs meet the diverse needs of its members. Four divisions, Commercial, Education, Government and Non-Profit, connect with their respective members to promote the exchange of information, to develop and promote professional standards and to support relationships. (Education has two sub-groups: Large Universities and Predominantly Undergraduate Universities.)
We caught up with the Division Chairs this month to learn more about the major issues, challenges and opportunities that members of their Division have been dealing with during COVID.
From the Education Division, Predominantly Undergraduate Universities, Division Chairs, William Belisle (Southern University at New Orleans) and Ashley Turbeville (University of South Alabama) identified the issues and challenges as: moving from primarily person-to-person operations to primarily online operations; student recruitment and enrollment; and virtually teaching classes and/or laboratories that require hands-on learning activities. Opportunities were: enhancements in online teaching and learning and operations; enhanced knowledge of and use of online meeting and virtual connectivity resources (Zoom, WebEx, etc.); and COVID research.
As Ashley notes: "Our institution did a very good job of moving everyone to a remote workspace. We submitted more grants and were awarded more grants during the remote work than the previous year. This is due to available COVID funding opportunities and faculty productivity in grant application development."
In the Commercial Division, Roseann Luongo, Division Chair (Huron) noted that major issues and challenges have been staffing and Zoom fatigue, while one opportunity has been the realization that their organizations can do more with less travel.
Finally, from the Government Division, where Rebecca Claycamp and Erik Edgerton are Division representatives, Rebecca Claycamp, identified the primary challenges for funders as: pivoting to a virtual setting while adapting policy and responding with timely funding opportunities; coordinating COVID-related changes within their respective agencies and with Federal-wide policy restrictions; trying to find ways to be flexible with recipients in light of policy and agency challenges. Opportunities have been: increased funding opportunities for COVID research and leveraging software tools to streamline processes.
SRA International has a very diverse membership, and Division Chairs have a good pulse on their respective members. Regardless of their specific roles in the research administration and management ecosystem, their responses to COVID demonstrate a common mentality of resilience and ingenuity in turning challenges into opportunities.
Click here to find out more information on SRAI divisions.
Authored by Terry Campbell, Assistant Vice President, Research Services
University of Ottawa
SRAI Catalyst Co-editor