CU Denver campus 2019

Inaugural Research Staff Symposium Envisions a Stronger Support System Ahead

January 20, 2022

Since CU Denver began the process to identify its first Research Grand Challenges last fall, a key component to research enterprise success is the backbone of its support crew. Last week, CU Denver held its first Research Staff Symposium, a three-hour session for staff who work in Office of Grants and Contracts, Office of Research Services, Office of Research Development and Education, as well individual departments, colleges, and teams who work together to support research through each leg of the often tangled process.  

Provost Constancio Nakuma began the session by thanking the staff for their continual work supporting CU Denver research and emphasizing that the annual sessions going forward will only strengthen university research and creative works.

“This is only our first year,” said Nakuma. “Next year, we will do it again and then again until the culture of research becomes something not just to talk about, but what we do here.”

“We’re using this symposium to map out the research administration landscape,” said Martin Dunn, dean of the College of Engineering, Design and Computing and Interim Chief Research Officer. “We will discover how to build it out and strengthen it, especially considering our ambitious research goals.”

Dunn emphasized that equally important to identifying the Research Grand Challenges is strengthening the surrounding enterprise that supports its participants. “We will need to build new muscles,” said Dunn. “This is the starting point to figure out what that looks like.”

Staff members used two breakout sessions to share their stories working in research administration—the best parts of their jobs and the challenges, how to strengthen the communication between departments, increase visibility, become better organized, rectify staff shortages, and begin brainstorming potential investments that could bolster the hard work necessary to achieve the university’s Strategic Plan goals. 

The next step is for the organizers to synthesize the feedback, develop the general themes and focus areas, and bring recommendations to the research administration.