Fall 2013 Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Newsletter

Site Search

A image of Dixon Hall where the Sponsored Research and Grants office is located.A image of Dixon Hall where the Sponsored Research and Grants office is located.

Fall 2013 Newsletter

Featured Articles



Looking for Inspiration?  Try the President's INSPIRES Program...Inspires Logo


The President's Incentive for Sponsored Programs in Research, Education, Service (INSPIRES) is designed to provide workload incentives to faculty grant writers.  This three-year pilot program beginning July 1, 2013, was introduced by the OSPR to stimulate grant writing efforts on campus.  The first eligible recipient of the INSPIRES incentive award is Dr. Daniel Harris, Department of Earth Sciences. 

         Dr. Daniel Harris        
Dr. Harris expressed, "I have found that as an instructor it is my responsibility to not only provide the knowledge that my students will need   but also to strengthen their resumes and prepare them for career or graduate school applications.  Two things that will always set an applicant apart is their research experience at the undergraduate level and any publications or presentations that have developed from this research.  The INSPIRES program provides added incentive for faculty to seek out the funds necessary to promote this research component."  If you are interested in learning more about program, the detailed guidelines are available at the President's INSPIRES Program.

 top ^

You Told Us and We Listened!   WKE for Grant Writing/Development Approved

Over the last two years, the OSPR has taken several steps to determine how to increase grantsmanship at Cal U. After surveying the Cal U community, considering the task force's recommendations, and listening to the OSPR Advisory Board, it became clear that faculty lack the time required to write grant proposals. The task force's recommendation to create a pool of four (3-credit) WKEs (workload equivalencies) each semester for grant writing was approved by Provost Barnhart's Deans/Provost Council.

The WKEs for Grant Writing/Development three-year pilot program, effective July 1, 2013, enables faculty members to apply for a 3-credit WKE during a fall or spring semester to provide time for developing and writing a competitive proposal for a large sponsored program or research. 

The application for Fall 2014 WKEs for Grant Writing/Development will be distributed prior to the end of this semester.  Watch your email for the announcement. 
If you are interested in learning more about program, the detailed guidelines are available at the WKE for Grant Writing/Development.

top ^

Considering funding from a private foundation or corporation?  Contact the OSPR!

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (OSPR) is available to assist you in applying for funding from private foundations or corporations.  With the implementation of processes and procedures enabled by the Grant Services Agreement between the University and Foundation, Cal U faculty and staff can now work with the OSPR when seeking funding from a private foundation or corporation If you are interested in pursuing private funding, please be sure to contact the OSPR.

top ^

Hanover Grants Can Help

Hanover Research LogoCal U has contracted with Hanover Grant Development Services to provide assistance in procuring grant funds.  Their services include multi-faceted project development, comprehensive grant-writing assistance, identification of suitable grant opportunities, assistance with post-award compliance, strategic outreach to, and relationship cultivation with, federal, corporate, and foundation contacts, assessment and overhaul of previously rejected proposals, and ensuring project sustainability.  In addition, Hanover generates a weekly email alert of funding opportunities.  If you are interested in receiving this alert, please contact the OSPR.

During the spring 2013 semester, Hanover representatives conducted a Cal U site visit.  After meeting with President Jones, Provost Barnhart, the Deans and several of faculty and staff members, Hanover prepared a Grantseeking Strategy Memo that identified high priority areas and initial targets for grant seeking. 

Over the summer, Dr. Kyle Fredrick, Department of Earth Sciences, had the opportunity to work with Hanover Grants.  Fredrick remarked, "Working with the Hanover Grants staff was a generally a positive experience.  The associates that I worked with were able to give me both positive and negative feedback in a constructive way.  Working with off-site people that see grant proposals every day gave me an increased sense of confidence in what they were saying.  Additionally, the manner in which we communicated both through email and phone calls provided a layer of accountability to meet my own expectations along with theirs."

Currently, Hanover is being engaged to provide assistance for a proposal to NSF's STEP program and for a proposal to the Benedum Foundation.  Hanover only works on one project at a time, so there is a queue, which makes it critically important to work months (maybe a year or more) in advance of a proposal submission deadline.

top ^

Indirect Costs Distributed to New Rollover Cost Centers

Nearly $107,000 of indirect costs was earned on grants and contracts during fiscal year 2012-2013.  These dollars were divided according to the new indirect cost distribution policy approved by Cabinet on April 18, 2013:

  • 35% to the Principal Investigator (PI)
  • 5% to the Dean of the PI
  • 12% to Cal U
  • 48% to the President’s Office

Over $37,000 was distributed to 13 Principal Investigators.  These funds have been directed to newly created cost centers that will rollover each fiscal year.  The funds are to be spent in accordance with the University’s purchasing processes and procedures.  The funds directed to the President’s Office will be used to support INSPIRES, student-faculty research, OSPR training, grant writers’ fellows and other initiatives to stimulate grant writing.

top ^

Assessment Underway

In an on-going effort to increase the number of grant writers and to establish the needs across campus to more effectively pursue and manage sponsored projects and research, the OSPR has included a college assessment component in its strategic plan The OSPR designed an assessment instrument listing several questions directed to department chairs to rate categories such as facilities, department readiness, faculty engagement, and student research with respect to sponsored projects/research.  During Spring 2013, interviews with department chairs from the College of Education and Human Services were completed, while interviews with department chairs from the Eberly College of Science and Technology and the College of Liberal Arts are underway. Once all interviews are completed and the data are compiled and analyzed, the results will be shared in a future OSPR Bulletin.

top ^

Improving Processes

Objective D.2 of OSPR’s strategic plan focuses on improving the efficiency of internal processes for administering grants (post-award).  As a first step, interviews were conducted with Project Investigators/Project Directors and a questionnaire was distributed to the members of the OSPR Advisory Board work group that covered questions concerning the “administering processes” of external funding.  After the results were compiled, a clear picture emerged identifying the areas that are road blocks when administering grants.

Communication between the faculty, staff, and the various offices that process paperwork or provide assistance seemed to be the most important.  To help facilitate the improvement of communication, the OSPR staff met with several offices across campus to address the findings.  As a result, several new written procedures that provide step-by-step instructions and guidelines have been documented to help streamline the processes. 

The OSPR would like to thank the Project Investigators/Project Directors, Advisory Board administering process workgroup, and the offices on campus who took the time to share their expertise, opinions, and ideas to help improve these processes.  There will be an on-going commitment by the OSPR to continue to improve the processes. 

top ^

  • Important Asset – Grants Accounting Department

    The Grants Accounting Department will prove to be an important asset to the Project Director (PD) after a grant proposal has been awarded.  Keith Curran, Comptroller and Lori Jansante, Fiscal Technician, provide accounting support and services for grant funded projects.  Grants Accounting will provide support once the contract/agreement for the project has been approved and fully-executed.   Following are some of the many duties they perform in support of grants:

    • Create Cost Center numbers for grant purchases
    • Create Funds Reservation numbers for grant travel
    • Approve requisitions and travel forms
    • Create and update expense reports for each grant
    • Provide budget updates quarterly or more frequently
    • Provide support for Federal grants such as filing quarterly reports (SF 270) and requesting drawdowns  
    • Prepare annual and final reports for all grants
    • Coordinate with OSPR on budget revisions and transfers of line item funds as necessary
    • Create invoices for grants
    • Perform financial closeout at the end of the grant period and return any unspent funds

    Keith and Lori encourage Project Directors to contact them with any grant related financial questions. 

    Keith Curran, Comptroller – Ext. 4115, 1 or curran@calu.edu
    Jansante, Fiscal Technician-Ext. 4115, 2 or jansante@calu.edu 

    top ^

  • Cal U - A Leader in Grants

    Photo of Dr. Stanley A. Komacek

    At a recent PASSHE-wide workshop, Cal U’s efforts to incentivize grant writers received significant attention.  Dr. John Nass (Justice, Law, and Society), Dr. Summer Arrigo-Nelson (Biological & Environmental Sciences), and I attended a workshop conducted by the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) at PASSHE's Dixon University Center, September 27-29. The workshop, funded by the National Science Foundation, focused on undergraduate-level research.  Each PASSHE University team worked with a CUR facilitator to develop a plan for institutionalizing undergraduate research as a high-impact practice. 

    During our discussion with our facilitator, a chemistry professor from Colgate, we explained our new Indirect Cost Distribution Policy in which Cal U is returning 35% of grant indirects to project PIs and President Jones is reinvesting her 48% of indirects to stimulate grant writing.  The facilitator recommended that we share details during the next plenary session.  After our plenary session presentation, attendees had several questions, requested details, and suggested we should share the results of our efforts.  During our presentation we explained that the President’s 48% is being used to fund the INSPIRES pilot program, a student-faculty research competition, and the grant fellows program.  Details were also provided about the new grant development services from Hanover Research and the pilot WKE for Grants effort in which one FTE of WKE is made available by the Deans/Provost Council.  At this time, the grant fellows program is the only initiative for which results were available to share.  To date, Cal U grant fellows have secured more than nine dollars of external funding for every dollar the University invested in their training. 

    Several workshop attendees shared that they had been attempting to secure elements of Cal U’s grant indirects’ process for years; decades even, with no success.  Cal U’s approaches to incentivizing grant writers seemed to impress attendees.  The results of these incentives may take a couple years to develop; however, given the positive response from the PASSHE faculty and CUR facilitators, Cal U appears a leader in its commitment to supporting grants and grant writers.


    top ^


    Grants.gov provides an e-mail notification subscription service for funding opportunities. Click on the link and provide your email address and select your preferences such as funding activity category, eligibility, agency, etc. Alerts are sent as soon as a matching opportunity is posted to grants.gov

    top ^

    NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts
    The NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts is the official publication for NIH medical and behavioral research grant policies, guidelines and funding opportunities.  At the end of each work week NIH will transmit an email to NIH Guide LISTSERV subscribers with the Current Weekly Table of Contents (TOC).

     top ^

    National Science Foundation
    The National Science Foundation Update, an email alert service,  provides access to funding opportunities, publications, events, and upcoming due dates. Click on the link and provide your email address to subscribe.

    top ^