Redesigning the Vice-President Research and Innovation portfolio

Aminah Robinson Fayek - 02 December 2021

The Vice-President Research and Innovation (VPRI) portfolio has been redesigned to align with the university's new operating model and to better support our research community. I am pleased to introduce that new structure today. The consolidated structure integrates strategic research and innovation support and streamlines research administration, offering researchers and faculties expanded services delivered via four Centres of Expertise, and consistent easy access to the portfolio via a new research partners network. With better integration and tighter focus on services delivery, the new structure will help increase research funding success, increase research and innovation impact, and help develop ambitious interdisciplinary projects. The new organizational chart illustrates how teams will be organized and services delivered.

Expanded and enhanced services

Our new Centres of Expertise are:

  • Research Development and Services will help researchers increase research funding success and provide support to researchers on complex research management processes and issues. This team also incorporates research administrative services.
  • Partnerships, Innovation and Knowledge Mobilization will support research impact via partnerships and innovation initiatives, develop and manage institutional research and innovation partnerships, and continue to support commercialization while expanding the university's innovation and commercialization vision.
  • Strategic Research Initiatives and Performance will support strategic research initiatives, strategic research planning and performance measurement; identify research and innovation trends and emerging opportunities; develop strategic and interdisciplinary research initiatives; and steward large-scale institutional research grant applications.
  • Research Integrity Support will consolidate, integrate and support research compliance and security, incorporating Research Ethics Office functions and services.

The VPRI portfolio will also create a Research Partners Network, consisting of partners who will directly connect VPRI to colleges and faculties, and will serve as a "go to" resource for researchers, senior academic leaders, and administrative professionals.

Next steps

It is important to note that the new structure is a starting point, a baseline state. As we refine and implement this new structure, the VPRI portfolio will continue to support the research and innovation community.

One of the first areas we will implement will be the partners network, which will initially consist of three senior partners and five research facilitators who will support the development of the network. Over time, the network will be expanded along with the portfolio's other functions.

As SET continues its work with other areas, we will also continue to engage in conversations to better determine how the VPRI portfolio will interface and work with shared services and any research administration functions that are located in faculties and colleges.

As we put in place new service areas, please continue to rely on your current contacts and services. As the process unfolds, we will communicate changes and provide information on when and how to access new services.

The VPRI portfolio transition to its baseline structure is expected to be completed by March 31, 2022. However, the evolution from our baseline state to the desired end-state will take some time.

I would like to conclude by acknowledging that the VPRI structure redesign is the result of many months of work and consultation across the university. I want to thank Steve Patten, Academic Co-Lead for the Research Administration Stream, and the many others involved in this important work.

Aminah Robinson Fayek
Vice-President (Research and Innovation)

Frequently asked questions

How can we increase funding success with less research administration staff?
The new VPRI structure enables each unit to be more focused on what is essential to the success of our researchers. Each Centre of Expertise will also be able to develop more holistic and integrated approaches to meet their respective goals, while the more tactical and transactional work will be streamlined to increase efficiency and reduce turnaround times.

When will the Research Partner Network be in place? How many partners will there be?
The implementation of the partner network will be progressive. This is the best way to ensure a sustainable growth of the network and alleviate any potential disruptions in the redistribution of the research administration workload. The partner network will initially consist of three senior partners and five research facilitators who will be assigned to initiate and support the development of the network, which will be expanded along with the portfolio's other functions.

What happens in the interim before the partners are hired? Do staff stay in their roles?
In order to avoid any significant disruption, everyone should continue to carry on their current role unless otherwise informed. The transition to the new structure will be progressive and more information will be available when each step of development is reached.

What happens to faculty Research Administration staff? How are they impacted?
The leadership team in the VPRI portfolio will continue working with SET and the colleges to determine how research administration responsibilities will be distributed amongst departments, faculties, colleges, and the VPRI portfolio. Changes should be anticipated, but the depth of these changes cannot be confirmed at this stage. Where it makes sense, consolidation of processes and transactions should be expected.

Where is the Postdoctoral Office?
The Postdoctoral Office is moving to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR). This was a strategic decision that aligns well with current institutional restructuring. Moreover, locating the Postdoctoral Office within FGSR for administration, programming, and funding support is consistent with peer institutions, including UBC, McGill, Western and the University of Toronto.

What is happening with the Research Ethics Office (REO)?
Research Ethics functions and services were incorporated into the Research Integrity Support Centre of Expertise that will consolidate, integrate and support research compliance and security. As stated above, this new grouping of functions should enable more consistency in the overall approach to compliance, refocus the efforts towards common and priority goals and streamline processes where possible.

How do researchers and the research community access VPRI provided support. Is it business as usual?
The transition to the new VPRI portfolio structure will be phased and occur over the next few months. During this time you should continue to connect with your current contact. As new areas are implemented (e.g., the partners network), we will communicate when and how to access this support.



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