New name, services for sponsored programs office

The Mississippi State office charged with overseeing externally-sponsored programs -- the grants, contracts and related agreements that help fund research -- is getting a new name this month and expanding the services it provides faculty and staff.

Known previously as Sponsored Programs Administration, the new Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) features a renewed focus on streamlining the research administration process and helping researchers write successful funding proposals.

“The changes we are implementing with the Office of Sponsored Projects are part of the division-wide effort we have to enhance customer service,” said David Shaw, MSU’s vice president for research and economic development.

“We are determined to remove as many barriers as possible so that Mississippi State’s scientists and scholars can focus on their research instead of burdensome paperwork,” he said.

As funding agency guidelines and regulations grow ever more complex, OSP officials have determined that greater specialization is needed for their grants and contracts administrators.

“We have shifted from a department-based workload to an agency/sponsor-based workload,” said OSP Director Jennifer Easley.

“By grouping similar types of submissions and awards together, we expect to add agility to the process and to deepen the knowledge and expertise within the office. The end result should be a better experience for principal investigators, departmental administrators and sponsors,” she explained.

As OSP develops additional expertise and capabilities, it also is expanding significantly its support services for faculty and staff already writing winning proposals, and for those who wish to begin submitting proposals, but aren’t sure how to get started or underestimate the very competitive nature of today’s funding environment. OSP’s new proposal services unit will address these challenges and more, according to Easley.

“We will work with our colleagues in departments, centers and institutes who provide proposal support and be a resource for them. We will also reach out and connect with faculty and staff who don’t have access to that kind of service,” she said.

OSP’s proposal services team will offer a “one-stop shop” for everything it takes to develop a compelling funding proposal. The enhanced services include:

-- Identifying funding opportunities.

-- Managing large, multi-collaborative projects.

-- Individual proposal assistance.

-- Locating collaborators, both internal and external.

-- Providing samples of successful proposals, including templates and boilerplate language.

-- Learning opportunities such as general and by discipline grant writing, agency-specific review criteria, proposal components, and ancillary documents like letters of support or commitment, data management plans and formatting.

-- Mentoring and peer review.

“One of our goals is to provide the infrastructure necessary for research to thrive at Mississippi State, and to provide the mechanisms of support that are essential for developing and recruiting outstanding faculty,” Shaw said.

“We believe these changes within Sponsored Projects are a major step toward meeting this goal, and welcome feedback as the process moves forward,” he said.

Please contact Easley at 662-325-3751 or with any questions or for additional information.

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Jim Laird | Public Affairs

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