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Faculty in research and what you need to know, according to this Houston expert

To be better leaders, the administration should engage its primary audience: the faculty. Graphic byMiguel Tovar/University of Houston

The world of academic research is tough. As institutional research offices juggle regulatory and financial challenges within a continually strained system, they still have to lead their respective enterprises and serve their research communities.

“Service before leadership,” said Amr Elnashai, vice president/vice chancellor for research and technology transfer at the University of Houston. “We cannot miss this very important fact – we have to serve the needs of our research communities, first, before they will trust us to lead.”

How can we better serve faculty while tackling the many challenges faced by research divisions?

Sara Bible, associate vice provost for research at Stanford University, says the best way is to continually engage faculty in the business of research.

Rule making within research

Let’s be honest – faculty don’t particularly enjoy the administrative overburden dished out by university research offices. Nor should they.

But involving faculty in the process is the quickest way to earn their cooperation.

“You will have good results if you put in the time,” said Bible. “It’s really important to be flexible with faculty and staff on campus.”

One way Bible has successfully engaged her research community is in policy development. Her office at Stanford implemented a research policy working group that spends months testing policy language and effectiveness with university faculty and staff before it is launched.

“We’ve had great results,” she said. “People want to engage and be part of the process, not just be expected to follow a rigid set of rules.”

The pre-deadline deadline

Another way to partner with faculty is to work with them to improve the proposal review cycle, for everyone knows the risks of pushing the magic button mere minutes before the deadline.

Melinda Cotton, assistant vice president for Sponsored Programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recommends creating a pre-deadline deadline.

Her office worked with faculty, schools and departments to establish the submission of proposals a full seven days before their due dates. This gave the office time to strengthen merit of the research project and fix minor details that could disqualify a proposal.

“Within our School of Medicine, more than 80 percent of our proposals came in by our pre-deadline,” she said. “We work hard to communicate and advocate to faculty that we can serve them better by doing it this way, and it’s working for us.”

Ultimately, there are lots of processes university research offices have to put in place to do the business of research. But to be better leaders, the administration should engage its primary audience: the faculty.

Engagement in policy-making, for instance, gives insight into pain points and allows research offices to put the best processes in place to get the job done for everyone.

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This article originally appeared on the University of Houston's The Big Idea. Lindsay Lewis, the author of this piece, formerly served as the executive director of communications for the UH Division of Research.


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Building Houston

 
 

We're welcoming more and more new Texans every day. Photo via Getty Images

The adage "everything's bigger in Texas" has never been more apropos than with this news: For the first time ever, the population of Texas officially reached 30 million.

Or 30,029,572 in July 2022, to be exact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Vintage 2022 national and state population estimates, released on December 22.

We predicted this milestone last year when our population clocked in at 29,558,864, as long as Texas maintained its then-year-over-year growth of 1.1 percent.

We bested that percentage and then some, growing 1.6 percent and coming in fourth for total percentage growth. Florida, Idaho, and South Carolina were the only states ahead of us in that race.

The numbers also revealed that Texas saw the most numeric growth in 2022, adding 470,708 residents year over year from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022.

But wait, that's not all: Texas is also officially the second-most populous state, joining California in the 30 million-plus club. For reference, Texas is 268,597 square miles and California is 163,696 square miles — we do treasure our wide open spaces.

Growth in Texas last year was fueled by gains from all three of the main components: net domestic migration (230,961), or people moving in and out of the state; net international migration, or the number people moving in and out of the country (118,614); and natural increase, or births minus deaths (118,159).

“There was a sizable uptick in population growth last year compared to the prior year’s historically low increase,” says Kristie Wilder, a demographer in the Population Division at the Census Bureau. “A rebound in net international migration, coupled with the largest year-over-year increase in total births since 2007, is behind this increase.”

The Population Estimates Program uses current data on births, deaths, and migration to calculate population change since the most recent decennial census date and produce a time series of estimates of population, demographic components of change, and housing units.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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