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Number of Years in Research Administration: 16
Institutions: Tulane University, Xavier University of Louisiana, University of Massachusetts Boston, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Valera T. Francis, Ph.D. has extensive experience in research administration through her work in various types of higher educational institutions. She has worked in grants administration for over 16 years. She is currently the Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Prior to that, she was Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Valera began her work in research administration at Xavier University of Louisiana, a private, Catholic Historically Black University. In her native hometown of New Orleans, she was also involved in facilitating community/university partnerships through her association with the Tulane Xavier National Center for the Urban Community.
Valera has worked exclusively in central office research administration, but with two different reporting structure models. This adds to her knowledge and understanding of research administration operations. In her previous Director position, both pre-award and post award reported to her, under the Academic side of the institution. Under this reporting structure, she oversaw all pre-award, post award, and compliance activities. This involved the final review, approval and submission of all proposal applications, award negotiation and account set-up, grant and contract accounting and reconciliation, financial reporting, cash management, cost accounting, effort reporting, subrecipient monitoring, subcontract development, review and approval, training and communication, and clearance and compliance checks, and award close-out. In her current institution, there are separate pre-award and post award central units that report to the academic and business offices on campus. As Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs, she oversees all pre-award administrative functions and limited compliance (research conflict of interest and export controls) activities.
She has been a change agent in many of the research offices where she has worked. She has overseen the implementation of Electronic Research Administration systems at three universities, of which, electronic systems replaced two paper based systems. At her current institution, the pre-award office was re-organized in response to the changing needs of the institution and the evolution of the external environment. Policies and procedures were updated, staff positions evaluated, the website updated, a Research Administrator’s Network created, and the implementation of proposal development services. Two NCURA Peer Reviews have been conducted at her current institution so she is very familiar with the process.
Valera has presented at local, regional and national meetings. She has also been a reviewer for the American Association of University Women. She is the university’s administrative representative in the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), is a member of the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) and also is a member of NC SPARC. Valera is a member of the Research Advisory Council at her current institution and has served on various institutional level committees.
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