VPR office to launch central office for grant resources

In his annual address to the university community last week, President Steven Leath mentioned a new office that would provide assistance and training related to research development and grant administration to faculty and staff from all disciplines. In January, the office of the vice president for research will launch the Grants Hub. This centralized resource will help researchers access information about funding opportunities and assist with grant proposal development and post-award setup.

The Grants Hub's creation stems from discussions at open forums last spring about pre- and post-award processes. The forums, which included research faculty and staff and grant coordinators, helped identify needs for grant support services across campus.

"What we heard during our forums was that there's room for improvement in the grant support process at Iowa State," said Sarah Nusser, vice president for research. "The Grants Hub is designed to fill gaps that exist in critical support services in some areas around campus and, ultimately, help our researchers achieve success."

Many details about the hub still are being worked out and will be shared later this semester. Here's what's known now:

Services and implementation

A main goal of the Grants Hub is to reduce the administrative burden on faculty in submitting grants and managing awards. The Grants Hub is expected to improve the overall efficiency in the grant submission process by working closely with sponsored programs, responsible research and compliance units.

Grants Hub staff will:

  • Create and maintain databases with institutional information for specialized grants
  • Offer workshops and programs that provide research development and administration training
  • Provide a help desk for proposal-related questions from the campus community
  • Provide project management support for some medium- and large-scale grant proposals

Services will be implemented in phases beginning in January. The timing and structure of this phased implementation will be determined and announced later this fall, as will the office's staffing structure.

Free services and fee services

Many Grants Hub services will be free. These include assistance with coordination and review of medium- to large-sized grant proposals, help with finding funding sources, access to institutional information for specialized grants, training in research development and administration, and assistance and referrals through the help desk.

Additionally, new faculty will receive full support and mentoring for their first proposal submission and first award setup, free of charge. The costs of all other pre-and post-award services offered by the Grants Hub will be shared. A fee structure will be worked out this fall after consultations with stakeholders.

Because the Grants Hub is intended to fill gaps in research services, it will not compete with services offered at other places on campus. Partnerships with existing support units will be discussed with key stakeholders.

The VPR office has a fulltime staff member who provides pre- and post-award services for faculty in the arts and humanities, and who will be brought into the Grants Hub. Arts and humanities faculty will have access to all the services that they have had in the past and the additional services and resources of the Grants Hub.

Questions about the Grants Hub may be directed to associate vice president for research Chitra Rajan.