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Meredith McQuaid, associate vice president and dean, Office of International Programs
To enable the University of Minnesota to compete more successfully for multimillion-dollar grants with international and multidisciplinary scope, the Office of International Programs (OIP) and the Office of the Vice President of Research (OVPR) must implement a coordinated process or protocol that facilitates connections and collaborations between University researchers pursuing international opportunities and other University faculty and staff who are engaged in research and programming around the globe.
As research funding dwindles and competition increases, funding agencies are requiring comprehensive approaches from higher education institutions to compete for multimillion dollar grants. Many of these grants, particularly the best-funded and most sustainable, are targeted for education, research, and outreach in other countries, often in the developing world.
To compete for these grants, the University must demonstrate that across disciplines, the institution has relationships and research in many parts of the world. Despite the fact that University faculty are engaged in robust research, education, and outreach collaborations on every continent and in nearly every country, we are not able to demonstrate this strength in any consistent, thorough, and immediate way.
The challenge is to identify, collect, update, and manage this information quickly and accurately to meet typically short grant deadlines. Precious time is wasted gathering information when it may already exist somewhere in the University. The lack of a coordinated mechanism to share information centrally means that our researchers applying for grants with international scope are often less well-prepared than the competition. Peer institutions, equally as large and decentralized, manage this process more successfully than the University of Minnesota and are therefore better positioned to receive funding, even though the University has similar depth and breadth of knowledge.
The University is pursuing a constituent relationship management database and an electronic faculty activity reporting database, but these systems are several years away from implementation. The University needs an immediate solution to this issue to strengthen its capacity to compete for and be awarded big-dollar grants with global scope.
By June 2010, the University will have an understanding of how it can be more efficient and successful in pursuing multimillion-dollar, interdisciplinary, international grants. Processes and protocol will be indentified that support a coordinated approach to collect vital information needed for these grant applications with short deadlines. An investigation of best practices of researchers and administrative units at the University and peer institutions will result in guidelines for University researchers to facilitate effective collaboration in global research and efficient communication across all disciplines.
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