Research Administration Training Program builds competencies

Author: Gene Stowe

Grant Writing

The University of Notre Dame Research Administration Training Program has trained more than 80 people on campus since it was launched in 2013. The four-day interactive program is designed to train research administrators on the entirety of the research lifecycle, from idea generation and grant writing through budgeting and publication in order to keep Notre Dame researchers and their administrators up to date with the latest information in order to remain competitive in the ever-changing research landscape. The certificate course, a blend of in-person and online learning, is offered twice a year.

The program has grown beyond the original cohort of Notre Dame Research Administration and Research and Sponsored Programs Accounting staff and has since attracted research program coordinators, business managers, departmental administrators and people from central administration, general counsel, central services and others.

The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce faculty administrative burden by building a depth and breadth of research administration competency at the University. Strong research administration allows Notre Dame researchers to focus on their work, rather than the administrative details.

“We have people in various functional roles and functional lines of the business,” says Liz Rulli, associate vice president for research, explaining that modern research support involves complex cross-functional issues such as preparing proposals for funding, negotiating and awarding grants, hiring staff, buying equipment, complying with regulations, or reporting discoveries to the Office of Technology Transfer where appropriate.

Liz RulliRulli

“In many cases, those people have not had experience outside their functional role. We wanted to have the opportunity for people to learn more about the entire life cycle of research — not to do everything but to understand how their role fits into supporting the University’s research mission.” Sessions begin with a faculty perspective address, where a professor or academic administrator describes their work related to the topic under discussion, such as multi-institutional collaborations, international research, and regulatory compliance.

The course includes videos of two fictitious faculty researchers, a biology professor early in their career with a collaborator in social sciences, and a long-established engineering professor, drawn from real-life stories. Interactive breakouts during each session, group work and a luncheon encourage networking among people with similar jobs on campus that might not otherwise meet each other.

The curriculum, which was developed in collaboration with Luma Brighter Learning, an educational design company based in Innovation Park, includes the creation of eNuggets, which are collections of five to nine details that break complex issues into bite-sized elements that are easily remembered. Participants share their eNuggets at the conclusion, and they are kept online for future reference. To view the existing eNuggets, visit

For more information about the training program, contact Karen Pace, director of research administration policy, training and communications, at 574-631-8305 or or visit