The First 365 Days as a Chief Research Officer

Six To-Dos for a Successful First Year (and Beyond)

The chief research officer (CRO) position requires equal parts long-term strategic vision and meticulous attention to detail. Like other university executives, CROs face challenges requiring dedicated focus and investment of resources. Each university is unique and many decisions CROs make depend on their campus’s objectives and needs.

New CROs will quickly encounter numerous trade-off decisions: Administrative minutia versus strategic goals, short-term wins versus sustainable growth, doubling down on federal funding versus expanding non-federal funding opportunities. The most common initial reaction is to take on everything, but this can lead to quick burnout among CROs in their first year. However, avoiding significant mental strain is easier said than done. Most new CROs encounter brand-new challenges along with an expanding portfolio of responsibilities and a decelerating federal funding pool.

To help prioritize and successfully tackle this complex role from day one, the University Research Forum crafted this to-do list accompanied by specific guidance and resources to assist new CROs’ first year in seat.

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