Standing at a Crossroads
I am seeking election to the office of Secretary. The Secretary plays a unique role on the Board as the official recorder of the Board’s decisions as well as capturing the essence of the discussions leading to those actions. The office holder must be organized, as well as knowledgeable of the Society’s Bylaws, policies, and procedures. In addition to my current role as Secretary, I have been a member of the Governance Committee, which drafts the policies, for the past eight years.
When I joined the Society of Research Administrators International nearly 30 years ago, it was the only US organization providing education for research administrators working outside a college or university, in my case, an academic medical center. I owe much of my professional development and network of colleagues to its conferences and programs, and to service on a variety of committees. Serving in leadership positions is the best way I know to give back to the Society and support its mission to train the next generation of research administrators.
Before serving on the Board, I held the President Elect, President and Past President offices in the Midwest Section, as well as the Michigan and Illinois chapters. I was first elected to the Society Board as an At-Large Member in 2006, serving an extended term until 2010. In 2010, I was elected to the office of Secretary and have held that office through six consecutive terms.
The Society stands at the crossroads of its future. It has weathered the pandemic in a relatively strong financial position, but it is clear that business as usual will not ensure survival in the ‘new normal.’ Past membership has been largely driven by attendance at in-person conferences. The sudden shift to virtual programs did not sustain the membership numbers of prior years.
Educational content for colleges, universities, academic medical centers, and non-profit agencies composed the majority of our programming. For SRAI to grow in its educational mission, it must reach out into new populations of research administrators including state and local government agencies, family foundations and private grant makers, and indigenous communities and tribes. These administrators might not even recognize that they share the same education and skill as the more traditional research administrator roles.
SRAI recently underwent a self-examination of its operations and programming for problems with diversity, engagement, and inclusion. The Board appointed a Task Force to conduct the examination. While I am pleased to report that no overt examples of discrimination or exclusion were identified, that cannot be the end of the process. Diversity, engagement, and inclusion are a journey, not a destination. There must be an ongoing commitment to weave these principles throughout the operation of the Society and its educational offerings. The new strategic plan has established this commitment this as one of three guiding principles. The challenge for the future leaders and educators will be to incorporate these concepts and establish the metrics to guide their development.
There is much work to do to keep SRAI viable and relevant in an ever-changing profession. I am seeking a seventh term as Secretary to continue guiding the Society into the future.
Authored by Bruce Steinert, Regulatory Manager
Medical College of Wisconsin