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Message from the Provost: Sponsored Programs

In January, the Operational Excellence Program launched the Sponsored Programs Initiative to design a university-wide approach to support externally funded research. One goal of the initiative is to provide effective and consistently high levels of service to faculty in connection with funded research. Over the last 10 months, the team reviewed technology, processes, and resources across the pre- and post-award management spectrum and have given CFO David Heimburger and me several options.

One of our principal recommendations, approved by Dr. Pestello, is a significant shift in organizational support for research administration that brings together key staff into three Grant Operation (GO) Centers, combining central and departmental functions. The design puts the key staff persons a faculty member needs to apply for and manage grants in a single team. The GO Centers will submit applications with fewer steps and better communication and make it faster and easier to receive and manage awards. The initiative team worked hard to ensure that this reorganization provides better support to all faculty at Saint Louis University and new career opportunities for the staff.

The GO Centers will be launched in phases. Staff members for the first GO Center were notified today, and their new assignments will be effective December 1, 2017. There are no position eliminations associated with the creation of the GO Center; and the thoughtful design has assured no incremental cost to the University, an important attribute given our commitment to achieve a balanced budget this year.

This first GO Center team will serve pre- and post-award needs of faculty from Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Doisy, Public Health and Social Justice, Education, Parks, Libraries and other academic units. I believe the GO Centers will be an important contributor to growth in funded research. The launch dates for the remaining two GO Centers, which will focus on biomedical funding, are being coordinated with the School of Medicine TEAM Project.

Any level of change creates some disruption to our normal ways of operating, but I am confident that the initiative team has sought to minimize these disruptions to the best of their ability. They have developed a detailed implementation plan. Over the next several weeks, Alexis Bruce-Staudt, named Interim Executive Director of the new GO Center and Matthew Christian, Associate Vice President for Research, will be available to meet with departments and schools and to discuss the type of grant support that the GO Center will perform and how the GO Center will support the unit moving forward.

I am grateful to deans and many department chairs who have worked closely with the Sponsored Programs Initiative to identify and transition our talented staff who are joining the new GO Center. I am confident that the GO Centers will enhance the work of our remarkable faculty by receiving grants and contracts that advance scholarship, engage students in experiential learning, and provide service to our region and world.

Based on the work of the Sponsored Programs Initiative team, two key actions were also recommended to CFO Heimburger and me as co-sponsors of the Operational Excellence program.  Both were fully supported by Dr. Pestello: replacing the data systems that govern research (eRS, eIRB and others) with a more efficient and user-friendly system and streamlining the submission process, requiring fewer steps and fewer approvals. Those changes will be fully implemented by the end of this academic year. Look for more information in the months ahead from the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The thoughtful work of the Sponsored Programs Initiative team deserves our community’s gratitude. Through strong collaboration, the team identified a number of solutions for supporting the research goals of faculty across the university, including the ones described in this message today. A listing of the initiative team is presented below. I am further grateful for the for the ongoing work of those staff members who work every day to support faculty and students, ensuring that SLU is one of the leading Jesuit research universities.


Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D.

Initiative Team