Updates to GW Research Support Services, Administration

A more decentralized system for sponsored project administration will better support faculty, Provost M. Brian Blake said, and the university will begin a search for a vice provost for research as Robert Miller assumes an elevated SMHS role.

GW Professors Gate
August 13, 2020

The George Washington University will enhance support for research, make adjustments to its central administrative office and begin a search for a vice provost for research as Robert Miller transitions to a more senior role in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Provost M. Brian Blake announced Thursday.

After a comprehensive review conducted by a working group of faculty, leadership and staff, the university will implement a “pod” model to support faculty in related disciplines with their sponsored project administration. 

The school-led pods will be decentralized, organized by subject areas and include staff to guide the production of grant proposals from inception to a near final form to streamline processes and increase collaboration and service excellence, Dr. Blake said.

“The Office of the Provost will partner with our community of scholars to define GW’s most effective strategic research synergies while investing in the research infrastructure to support large projects across all the disciplines—whether arts, business, health sciences, humanities, science and engineering, and social sciences,” Dr. Blake said. “To enable our strategic ambitions, the new model also will include the creation of a new major awards group to amplify our ability to win large center-level awards.”

The new model consolidates school-based and central functions within the new pods while streamlining workflow, and there will be fewer staff positions in the central office, Dr. Blake said.

“The pod system will continue to evolve over the next few months,” Dr. Blake added. “This model will enhance our productivity, helping GW move closer to its goal of achieving preeminence as a comprehensive global research university."

The new model does not affect ongoing research enhancement projects, such as responding to recommendations of the faculty-led ecosystem review and the implementation of myResearch, the new electronic research administration tool. These projects will continue with only minor revisions to scope or timeline, Dr. Blake said.

Robert H. MillerAlso Thursday, Dr. Blake said that Vice President for Research Robert H. Miller will step down from his current position and transition to a senior leadership role in SMHS as interim vice dean for research and academic affairs, where he will also lead one of the new pods. In his new role, Dr. Miller will oversee programs that serve the science, research, education and academic affairs missions of all SMHS departments and help to foster the academic missions of departments in the Medical Faculty Associates.

“I am extremely grateful for Bob’s strong leadership and partnership, and he has advanced GW’s scholarship and research to new levels,” Dr. Blake said. “I am pleased that Bob will continue to contribute his expertise to SMHS and strengthen GW research in the biomedical sciences.”

Under Dr. Miller’s leadership, the university has experienced significant growth in scholarship and research across all disciplines, including books and creative works produced, performance of faculty citations, and student and faculty research recognition and fellowships. The university’s research expenditures, one of many measures of research productivity, also have reached an all-time high. Additionally, Dr. Miller has led several initiatives to improve the university’s research ecosystem to better support faculty, including making administrative and infrastructure improvements, and expanded support for student mentorship and workforce development.

"I have been fortunate to benefit from the incredible collaboration and teamwork of our leadership, faculty, students and staff as we have worked together to further the university’s research mission,” said Dr. Miller, who has led the Office of the Vice President for Research since 2018. “I look forward to continuing to serve GW in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, with the active partnership of the Provost’s Office and university research leadership.”

Dr. Blake and Gina Lohr, senior associate vice provost for research, will maintain university-wide research operations after Dr. Miller’s transition to SMHS, and the university will begin a search soon for a vice provost for research, Dr. Blake said.

“With Bob continuing to be a leader in STEM and health sciences, this provides an opportunity for a humanities or social sciences-focused vice provost for research as his partner,” Dr. Blake said.

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