Sponsored Research Office Infrastructure and Staff

At Community Colleges and Four-Year Institutions

Topics: Community College, Research Administration, Research Enterprise, Grant Writing, Staffing, Organizational Structures

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This research project investigates how administrators structure and staff sponsored research offices at community colleges and some four-year institutions. The brief details reporting structures, organizational models, staffing skills and responsibilities, and budgetary allocations for sponsored research units. Finally, this report offers recommendations on aligning grant acquisition with strategic plans and properly equipping sponsored research staff to facilitate greater funding acquisition.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. Sponsored research offices at profiled institutions either offer a full portfolio of pre and post-award services (e.g., grant writing, proposal submission, compliance) or support and train faculty members to secure external funding.

    2. Directors of sponsored research units employ between four and 18 staff members to fill grant writer, compliance analyst, and staff assistant roles.

    3. Administrators evaluate the success of grant acquisition initiatives by tracking funding rates, administering satisfaction surveys to faculty members, and ensuring high quality proposals.

    4. Establish formal submission and compliance processes, funnel resources into high-impact grants, and hire staff with extensive grant writing experience.