REPORT ON THE INDUCTION WORKSHOPS ON RESEARCH ADMINISTRATION AND ADVANCEMENT CAPACITY BUILDING
This report seeks to avail you with the highlights on recent capacity building workshops aimed at enriching the scope of research administration and advancement within the university in which the Faculties were represented as critical stakeholders.
The workshops (5 in Number so far) are the following:
• Public Relations as it relates to Research Administration, Advancement, Linkages and Partnerships- Dr. Andee Iheme
• Institutional Partnerships and Linkages- Prof. Rotimi Ogidan
• Finding your Path in Research Administration- Prof. Oyeronke Odunola
• Public Relations and Research Administration, Advancement, Linkages & Partnership Operations- Dr. Samaila Mande
• Staying in the Fog or Getting into the Loop?- Prof. Ibikunle Tijani
1. Public Relations as it relates to Research Administration, Advancement, Linkages and Partnerships
The opening keynote address was delivered by the Deputy Registrar (DRAA), Mr. Oladipo Ajayi, who welcomed the Director, Prof. Christine Ofulue, the resource person, Dr. Andee Iheme, and all participants to the workshop.
In her opening remarks, the Director gave an overview of the Directorate listing the aim, vision, mission, focus, functions and units under the Directorate.
Main Thrust of the Presentation
- In the presentation taken by Dr. Andee Iheme, former Centre Director, Calabar Study Centre and a renowned Public Relations (PR) Expert listed the goals of Research Administration and Advancement as; enhancing funding for research, training and service activities and to assist in the management of awards. He added that strategic communication is effective in addressing the challenges inherent in persuading donors to part with their endowments for research and development purposes. He opined that a good strategic communicator begins by first defining his objective, identifying the target audience, determining the behavior (action) required, determining how the communication process will be monitored and evaluated. He listed attributes of quality information to include; being true, in consonance with kiss, accurate, legally sound, timely, have right tone and being complete.
- Dr. Iheme added that Advancement work thrives where an organization’s track record is founded on honesty, integrity, and truth. He highlighted what the prospective donor/sponsor expects to benefit from the relationship such as; tax relief, reputation enhancement, sales benefit, political benefits, social prestige and corporate favours. The public relation practitioner in pursuing advancement projects may include combination of publications, facility visits, lobbying, fairs etc. Moreover, various communication channels such as social media, mass media, advocacy activities, billboards and corporate gifts could be used to achieve this purpose.
- The Resource Person laid emphasis on writing and or content of good proposals which he alludes must be need driven and must be of problem solving type. He suggested that proposals should emphasize more of ‘substance’ rather than ‘form’, stating that what sells a proposal may not necessarily be the message but the messenger. A position of promise and potential sells a proposal faster and better than one of hopelessness and beggarly despair.
2. Institutional Linkages and Partnerships
- In his presentation, Prof. Rotimi Ogidan, Executive Director, African Centre for Distance Education (ACDE), explained International Linkage to mean the relationships and interactions which exist between institutions or organizations to promote flow of information, ideas and integration to achieve shared objectives. It can also be described as a process that establishes purposeful and profiled relationship between institutions, organizations or individuals across nationalities or countries. He said most of the time; it could be for educational, social, religious, cultural or other purposes. It could also be a relationship between the strong and the weak or between bodies that are at par. Examples of international linkage is what exists between NOUN and SOU, OUS and NOUN, ACDE and CoL, NOUN and OUK, NOUN and OUS, etc
- He listed the benefits as; provides accurate and rich knowledge about people, places, issues, needs and concerns, Linkages build capacity of partners which also result in empowerment. It is a reliable strategy of exchanging resources, promotes common understanding of issues, promotes respect for the partners who are involved in the relationship, and increases the national and international rating of an Organization/University.
- It helps to build global footprint in teaching, research collaboration and world development. It connects people who want to learn new things and develop new ideas to improve the world around them, challenges man to see problems through the eyes of others as common concerns. Linkages can also result into funding, exchange of state of the art/modern facilities, supports the actualization of the vision of the institutions, and addresses key challenges in an institution. Opens up an institution for the world to know the quality of what is on offer.
- He further explained the legal issues of international linkage such as documentation which is a procedure for keeping a record of the relationship/partnership, terms of agreement etc. He pointed out that the content of MOU should include, details of areas of agreement, mutual benefits, duration/ termination, confidentiality, settlement of disputes, signature should be appended by the Chief Executive Officers of the organizations or appointed staff on behalf of the CEO of the organization.
- He listed challenges in international linkages as; changing institutional leadership with attendant areas of priorities and interests, constantly changing technology, changing national political interests, differences in the pace of implementation of the terms of agreement in the MOU, sudden termination of the MOU. He concluded by saying that any institution that has the aspiration to attain world class standards should work hard to secure linkages with other high ranking institutions/organizations with similar vision in the world.
3. Finding your Path in Research Administration
- Prof. Oyeronke A. Odunola, Director, Research Management Office, University of Ibadan, in her presentation tagged ‘Finding your Path in Research Administration’’ talked about sponsored programs, projects and activities that are conducted by Faculty members and are supported by external funds awarded to the university.
- She listed roles of a Research Administrator as facilitating the link between research activities and research outcomes, to increase the effectiveness and productivity of institutional research by promoting the use of best practices in research administration; identify Faculty expertise and institutional research facilities. Prepare/maintain profiles of Faculty research interests, prepare/maintain/update descriptions of labs and core research facilities, disseminate funding opportunities, determine the best method for the institution, and enable Faculty to focus on relevant opportunities. She itemized qualities of a good Research Administrator as: welcoming and friendly , knowledgeable, presentable, good communication skill, confidentiality, punctuality, flexibility, understanding, good listener, and non-judgmental,
- She stressed that Faculty is expected to go through Research Administration for research, service, instruction, training to identify ideas, document needs, find sponsors and determine funding priorities, contact sponsors, write proposals, draw budget, review research, proposal submission and awards. She concluded by saying that the entire organization will be more efficient and productive by these, and would make academics likely more content on the job and feel more valuable.
- In his presentation, Funding Research Opportunities, Mr. Olumiyiwa M. Desmennu, a staff in the Research Management Office, U.I. who complemented his Director’s presentation, highlighted various possible sources of funding for research projects such as proposals/grants applications and fellowships, fundraising events like dinner and raffles, personal/instructional savings (fees, rent, consultancy and others). He stated types of donor funding available as; corporate donors, families and foundations, individuals donors, International non-governmental organizations (INGOs), faith based agencies, multi-nationals/UN agencies, government agencies, multilateral development banks.
- He listed various types of donors stressing that there are so many reasons why a donor may not give out funds even if one has the best proposal. Components in the request for proposals (RFA) are not a list of suggestions, but action plans and a review of the RFAs, and follow up. There are places to focus for funding opportunities such as funding database, donor websites, search engines, newsletters, newspapers, word of mouth, past grantees, senior staff and mentors. He concluded by providing various sites to check for grants.
4. Public Relations and Research Administration, Advancement, Linkages & Partnership Operations
- Dr. Mande Samaila, Ag. Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies and the resource person, started by defining Public relations as goodwill, positive image and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics. It is about healthy communication with a view to winning the affection of members of the public and Research as active engagement with the relevant domain of the world around us, leadership in thinking and doing, continual learning from, communication with, and dissemination to others.
He highlighted the role of Public Relations in organisations as:
a Planning and execution of all Public Relations related campaigns and programmes
b Arranging press conferences, event coverage, open days, press monitoring, public relations and facility visits for the media
c Clears all materials meant for publications, news stories and information that concerns a particular department with the departmental head before sending or releasing to the press.
He emphasized what he called the bedrocks of effective persuasion as credibility, reasoning, motivation, refutation, effective communication environment, and interest.
He affirmed that in order for universities to secure access to economic resources for research, increasingly strict demands will be placed on the benefit of this research for commercial or other societal development in the short and long term.
The universities need to develop the capability of using the research knowledge for new products or services.
He listed the challenges in enhancing the utilisation of research results as:
a The universities must continue to develop enduring networks and relationship that are based on mutual trust between the parties
b Leaders within academia must highlight the importance of collaboration with industry and society
c Documentation of measurable deliverables as a part of the academic qualification systems
d A specific challenge in supporting innovation activities will be to identify forms for the commercialisation of research innovations if the researchers themselves do not want to bring the idea on to commercial level
e Supporting systems must be developed for resource-efficient utilisation of results, so that researchers can continue to focus on their research activities.
He concluded by listing factors that lead to success as business case, trust and integrity, general partnership principles, research collaboration / IP principles, realistic expectations, support from senior leadership, partnership champions, strong interpersonal relationships, good governance practices and good management practices.
5. Staying in the Fog or Getting into the Loop? - Professor Ibikunle H. Tijani
In his presentation, Prof. Ibikunle Tijani, Centre Director, NURTW Special Study Centre, Garki, Abuja, contextualized the DRAA as the cockpit of the institution, the powerhouse for global and national ranking, anchor of research activities, and an advisory body in line with the NOUN Act and Senate Committee system. It also drives University wide research agenda and Journal Publications, serves as a clearing house for Faculty/Department based journals, and coordinates implementation of research aspects of MOUs, builds the Database for research and webometric ranking. It should be able to provide visibility on Researchgate and other avenues to showcase research output, and promote NOUN’s academic integrity.
He listed the various areas DRAA can provide support for academics and other stakeholders as Grants, Advancement, and Development in the under listed areas:
a Alumni and advancement
b Industrial linkages
c Seek and implement grants
d Endowment campaigns
e Seeding Labs
f Carnegie African Diaspora
g Association of Commonwealth Scholarships/Fellowships
h US Fulbright Scholarships/Fellowships and other opportunities, International Council for Open and Distance Learning Education
i MOU follow up, and would require support of the Legal Unit.