Authored by Gloria Greene, CRA, Director, Office of Sponsored Programs, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Office of Sponsored Programs, SRAI At-Large Board Member & Charna Howson, Director, Sponsored Programs, Appalachian State University, SRAI Southern Section Past President
Too often as research administrators, pre- and post-award, we are asked to go above and beyond, to do a little bit more with the same number of work hours. Then you receive emails from SRAI asking for nominations for key officer positions within a chapter, section and even as a member of the board. Before you toss that message, STOP! Take a moment to ask yourself, “Can I do this? What does the position entail? Will I have the support I need to succeed? Will I have the time to devote to another area of responsibility?”
All of the above are valid questions and concerns. As past-presidents of SRAI’s Southern Section and our respective chapters, we understand your hesitation in taking the first step in answering a call for nominations. What we would like to tell you is that you will not do so alone.
You have the experience and support of past officers from all of the sections & chapters at your side. Also, Presidents-Elect serve their first year shadowing the individuals currently holding this position. You have heard the old saying “it takes a village?” Well, we are here to tell you that your village is robust with many current and past SRAI officers who are excited to assist you in your journey. Moreover, the talented and knowledgeable staff at SRAI HQ are always there for you every step of the way, providing support and guidance when it is most needed.
We both have had the unique privilege of following a great person, mentor, and Southern Section President, Ellen Zavala, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Ellen, like so many of our leaders has been a remarkable mentor to many, taking your hand as you begin the application process and never letting go. You find yourself building forever-lasting relationships with the most remarkable people who continue to positively influence your career well beyond your term of service. For instance, we both have established relationships with our colleagues in other Sections as we moved through our many elected positions. Of special note are a few of the section presidents with whom we have worked most recently, Lynda Olin, Washington State University; Heather Kraus, The University of Michigan; Tabetha Lemke, Sanford Health and Gina Hedberg, The University of South Alabama. These are only a few stars from a midnight sky filled with many… Some encouraged us to run for office, some served beside us, but all supported us every step and taught us new things.
So start thinking now, how you will answer the next time a call for nominations from SRAI appears in your inbox. Opportunities abound; positions are many. Please, take the time to consider throwing your hat into the ring. The strength of SRAI lies in its entire membership. We are always looking for new leaders, new ideas, and most importantly, knowledge sharing.
As SRAI continues to grow, our viability depends on an infusion of new and innovative ideas. Having spoken to many newcomers at various SRAI meetings, all have great ideas, suggestions, and thoughts on how they could contribute to SRAI, ways to engage more of their colleagues, and so much more. Likewise, many with years of experience, and even mid-career members have unique insights to bring to the table as we all respond to the ever-changing world of research administration. So, the next time you receive the call for nominations in your inbox, how about running for an elected position?
Feel free to contact any of us, Charna or Gloria if you have any questions.