Message from VPRA: Dr. Robert Nobles (May 2023)

As we celebrate the end of another academic year, I am grateful for you, your colleagues, and our research community. We have such an amazing and vibrant research ecosystem, that all really begins with you being here, trained, and ready to serve. Over the past few months, I met with various teams and presented across the University on the vision of ORA and the findings from the 2022 Annual Research Faculty/Staff Satisfaction Survey. Feedback that I received about the outline of where we have been, where we currently are, and where are headed as an organization was very positive. Campus shares our excitement and optimism about the future of research administration. The three priorities that focus on shared governance, reconciliations/close-outs, and modernizing our IT infrastructure through a robust grants/contracts management system is creating a buzz and alignment about our future. I’ve also thanked campus leadership for the significant investment made to research administration at the beginning of this fiscal year. The messaging and connections are working and creating greater visibility into our successes and opportunities. I hope that you are as proud as I am going into the summer knowing that you are helping to build the best research administration unit in the nation!

As we work on building our research administrative culture and brand on being the best, I am finalizing my communication strategy to deans and campus for next fiscal year. I have envisioned more personal communications with the deans and campus leaders, which in my estimation will continue to bring our campus closer together on critical decisions and investments that will be made for the future.  Part of this communication strategy is incorporating team wins. During the Coffee Conversation that we had on May 22nd, I asked everyone to think about items you are most proud that you and your team has accomplished. I want to package up these wins and share your great accomplishments and synergies across campus.

Having outlined the call to action of identifying and communicating our wins, I want to share some of the initial wins that will be shared across campus in the Fall that was generated from the work of our Dragon team, in partnership with many of you. The Dragon Team, led by Inger Garnett, Director of Strategic Operations, is wrapping up a set of wins with ORA AVPs and teams related to five (5) core activities that I will be sharing across campus in the coming year:

  1. Documenting, refining, and improving the Awards Set-up Lifecyle process. This has been a point of consternation for our faculty who want to get started with research as soon as possible once the Notice of Award has been issued from the sponsor.
  2. Coordinating, refining, and streamlining the Awards Closeout process. This has been a massive effort to increase clarity and reducing the backlog of awards that require closing for institutional compliance.  
  3. Clarifying, defining, and documenting the comprehensiveness around RAS roles and responsibilities for RA units. This is a critical activity that brings teams together to understand upstream and downstream impacts of activities, thus creating greater synergies amongst all our teams.
  4. Assessing, modifying, and streamlining the PAN process for new awards. This includes both the back-end clean-up activities, as well as the front end coordinated activity with schools/departments.
  5. Assisting, documenting, and modifying current state for the IT modernization efforts around a comprehensive grants and contracts management system. This is a complete team effort that will bring coordinated transparency to our faculty, while streamlining the flow of information between many of our offices.

I am extremely grateful for your engagement and the work that is being facilitated in partnership with the Dragon Team. You are moving the institution forward and campus will be celebrating with us as we make research at Emory easier to conduct.

In closing, please know that I am proud of the outstanding work and phenomenal effort you contribute as part of our ORA team. We will continue the journey of becoming the best but know that the most important element of becoming the best is YOU! Thank you again for all that you have done over this past year! Please find time for a break this summer and I will see you all soon.

With appreciation,







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