As philanthropic organizations are reevaluating grants and other financial commitments, Fordham’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is developing new strategies to ensure that faculty research remains a top priority. “Though the economy is tightening, there is some reason to be optimistic about the availability of external funding, but only if we have a structure here at Fordham that can do two things: one, deliver to the faculty timely information about what’s available; and two, provide a faculty-friendly support structure,” said John Hollwitz, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs. John Cosgrove, Ph.D., an associate dean in the Graduate School of Social Service, was the office’s interim director from September through June. During that time he made several organizational changes to the office, including the introduction of SPIN Plus/SMARTS software. This direct-to-email funding alert service allows faculty members to obtain information on funding opportunities specific to their research needs. More than 20 faculty members were trained to use the software at the spring faculty technology conference. Ernst VanBergeijk, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Social Service, said the software has helped him identify grants and stay abreast of developments within his field.
“I followed the directions step by step, created my profile and consequently have been getting SMART notices almost daily,” said VanBergeijk, whose research focuses on school-based services for children and child welfare. “Even if it’s not exactly what I’m interested in, it gives me a pulse of what’s going on out there. Sometimes in academia you feel very disconnected, and this process helps you get a sense of what types of research other people are willing to fund.” In addition to grants, VanBergeijk uses the software to investigate additional research options. “The software also announces opportunities to teach and do research overseas which is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” said VanBergeijk. “Now I know how to go about the process, where as before, I had no idea where to begin.” The University is currently conducting a national search for a new director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. According to Cosgrove, there are other areas that can be further developed. For example, he says a comprehensive manual for faculty members with a set of policies that they can use to help navigate through the complex, business related aspects of their research should be developed.