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Theresa Bailey now leads the UTPA Office of Research and Sponsored Projects
Posted: 06/02/2006
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Theresa Bailey, most recently director of the Office of Research Services at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee since 2003, was chosen November 2005 as the newest director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects at The University of Texas-Pan American.

At UTPA, this office is charged with guiding and assisting faculty and staff in preparing contract and grant proposals to secure external research funding to support the University's mission.

- Theresa Bailey
While at Florida A&M, the Natchez, Miss. native established the university's research services office and built some significant external relationships for that institution. At UTPA, Bailey said her main goal will be to put in place a proper infrastructure with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs that will support a research intensive institution.

"First you have to look at the research culture. One indicator of research culture would be if there is a clearly defined research mission and if that mission is broadly communicated to the university community," she said.

Bailey said it is important for faculty to find the research and sponsored programs office relevant and "faculty-friendly."

"Our ultimate goal is to be an effective and reliable research administrative unit, both internally and externally, that provides customer-focused service in the acquisition and management of external funds," she said.

Bailey said she and her staff also aim to be proactive liaisons between our researchers and agencies.

"Faculty may expect to receive targeted and timely information. As we interact with agencies and potential collaborators, we propose to seek opportunities and build interest through marketing UTPA's research capabilities and telling the researcher's story as well or better than they do," said Bailey, who indicated that as an unbiased outsider she hopes to serve as an effective "change agent."

Her greatest challenge or obstacle, she said, will be people's reaction to the change required to become a research intensive institution.

"I think the institution is good at being a teaching institution. As we move toward becoming a research institution, then the way that we currently do things will need to change. The biggest area of change will be in processes and technology - the how and why we do things," she said. "Change however doesn't occur immediately. In a collegial environment consensus building is critical. We must have strategies and goals that are communicated. Obtaining "buy-in" from the affected parties is key. The affected parties must believe that the changes will be beneficial."

Besides building a greater presence internally, she also plans to upgrade the University's image with stakeholders by improving the office's Web page and developing new publications including an annual report and a research profile for each of the colleges. The profile will look at the research capabilities of each faculty member and what research is already being conducted.

Faced with challenges to higher education given the mandate of reduction of federal money for research at those institutions, UTPA, she said, is going to have to collaborate more.

"It is no longer a solo game. We need to look at where the dollars are and be strategic in our collaborations and how we go after those dollars," she said. "Irrelevant is our agreement or disagreement but the real dollars are now being directed to Department of Defense and homeland security - funds are directed toward protecting the war fighter and the homeland."

Bailey negotiated an educational partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials Laboratory (AFRL) while at Florida A&M and she hopes to do the same at UTPA. This partnership allows faculty and students opportunities to work in their laboratories and to use their equipment as well as the chance to have AFRL scientists and engineers to come to the campus to teach.

"A significant part of being involved in this arena is that the lab does business with the schools they are involved with," she said, noting they will visit the campus in May and follow a visit already made by the AFRL Sensors Directorate. "Many of the federal agencies are looking to diversify their workforce and to replace the retiring baby boomers. The real attraction is the students - they want the students but in order to get the students they are going to have to establish relationships with faculty and to invest in the institutions."

Bailey also thinks collaborations between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) will be "win-win situations."

"You want to collaborate with an institution where each team brings strengths to the table. These strengths may be found in facilities, expertise, or relationships with the agencies for example. Considering the climate, I think one of the strongest collaborations I think will be between HBCUs and HSIs. I think that they present an awesome picture," she said.

Prior to her service at Florida A&M where she arrived in 1995 to serve as associate in grants development, Bailey was a grants coordinator in the Office of Sponsored Programs at Tuskegee University in Alabama from 1993-95. Prior to that she was a program administrator in the Office of Grants, Contracts and Gifts from 1992-93 and an assistant to the vice president in the Office of Institutional Advancement/Title III from 1990-92, both at Tougaloo College in Mississippi.

Bailey earned both her Bachelor of Science in office administration/management and her Master of Science in guidance education from Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss. She is currently a doctoral candidate in higher education administration at The Florida State University with a proposed graduation date of December 2006. Her dissertation research topic questions the differences in institutional cultures of highly effective versus less effective research administration units. Her related professional affiliations include the National Sponsored Programs Administrators Alliance, the National Council of University Administrators and the Society of Research Administrators.

"Theresa brings a breadth and depth of understanding of issues that universities face as they work to increase research activities and build research infrastructure. Her experience in support services will be an asset as UTPA expands its research portfolio," said Dr. Wendy A. Lawrence-Fowler, associate vice president for Research.

Bailey, who is a fan of jazz and the laid back atmosphere of the Valley, said she is excited about the possibilities that exist here.

"Everyone here has been warm, welcoming and polite. I find wonderful support with my boss which is oh so very important. I have a great team (ORSP) with whom to work. I am trying to learn and be mindful of the cultural differences. As much as I am entering a culture I also bring a culture. I want to be known as a consensus builder, very much a team player and a facilitator of an effective research infrastructure."