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Mobility: What This Word Might Mean in a Post-COVID Era

By SRAI News posted 26 days ago


Mobility: What This Word Might Mean in a Post-COVID Era

Mobility (Noun): 1) The ability to move or be moved freely and easily. 2) The ability to move between different levels in society or employment. Synonyms: Flexibility, agility, progress, success, promotion. 

Now, what does ‘mobility’ really mean for a Research Administrator in 2023 and beyond? 

SRAI introduced the Research Administrators Mobility Program (RAMP) several years ago as a knowledge exchange opportunity for its members. The primary mechanism for this knowledge exchange has traditionally been proposed as an in-person visit to a peer institution for a specific purpose. While this is still certainly a valid approach to successful peer engagement and mentoring activities, we must also recognize that the world is a different place now than it was when RAMP was launched pre-pandemic. 

Undoubtedly, many facets of work/life changed in this ‘COVID-era.’ An unexpected side effect of the public health rollercoaster of the last 2+ years is that employees have exercised a remarkable degree of resilience and honed different approaches to getting things done. Most notably in workplaces, perhaps, is the fact that many organizations adopted hybrid or fully remote employment arrangements over the course of these ‘unprecedented times’, adapting to constraints from various directions while balancing operational needs. Many individuals in our profession are now fully remote, mobile as ever in theory, but accomplishing a ton without physically leaving their homes (Zoom meetings fully mastered!). 

All these things considered, does this mean ‘mobility’ may be taking on a new meaning for some of us than it did before COVID-19 came around? 

RAMP historically has been focused on the first definition of mobility – physically shifting from one place to another, with the implied impact being the second definition – to gain knowledge that will build a step toward progressing one’s career and/or organization. But now, ahead of the next RAMP cycle launch (anticipated in early 2023), I challenge every SRA member to think creatively about what ‘mobility’ encompasses in the current global climate in the context of the research administration profession. Does it mean… 

  • Hosting a research administrator colleague to help plan or implement a process/program?
  • Visiting a research administrator colleague’s campus to shadow their best practices in specific areas?
  • Exchanging research administrators with peer institutions for a short period, to broaden their exposure to the field?
  • A stipend to place a part-time student intern interested in research administration?
  • Organizing a training event for junior staff to earn a credential/certificate in the field?
  • Encouraging the next generation of graduates to make research administration their first-choice profession through a career fair/booth/program at your institution? 

…or something else? 

The depth and breadth of the concept of ‘mobility’ has been tried and tested since 2020. I suspect our SRAI membership body has a thousand bright ideas of how to put RAMP funds to impactful use, fostering mobility within the Research Administration profession. 

Keep an eye out for the launch of the next RAMP cycle; I encourage you each to put forward an application for how financial support could realize a mobility concept in your research administration sphere!

Authored by Cira Mathis, Manager, Internal Programs
Khalifa University
SRAI Membership Co-Chair