The Office of the Vice President of Research and Partnerships held a town hall meeting Tuesday that covered the reopening of research activities, the end of fiscal year 2020 and staff changes.
The meeting was hosted by Vice President of Research and Partnerships Tomas Díaz de la Rubia, who announced the retirement of Andrea Deaton, associate vice president for research and partnerships and executive director of the Office of Research Services.
Deaton’s retirement will be effective July 15, and Michael Purcell, a university staff attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel will be serving as the interim director beginning July 16.
Díaz de la Rubia said Berrien Moore, dean of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, will chair a national search committee to fill Deaton’s position. The search is expected to be completed by January 2021.
Díaz de la Rubia said Deaton will be sorely missed.
“It’s always impossible to replace a leader that has had such an impact and leaves such a big footprint in an organization,” Díaz de la Rubia said.
Randy Hewes, senior associate vice president for research and partnerships, detailed the reopening process of research activities, which is now in Phase II.
Hewes said his office has received 137 conduct of operations plans, all of which have been approved.
Hewes said the last step before the scheduled July 1 return is for all individuals returning to work to complete the online health screening procured by the university. He also said, pending the university’s expected announcement of Phase III, there could possibly be a separate Phase III of reopening for research activities.
Hewes said he is excited to see everyone returning to work.
“It’s great to see so many people getting back to research, and under circumstances that we believe will minimize risk for students, faculty and staff researchers on campus,” Hewes said.
Díaz de la Rubia said he is very happy to see that everyone who has already returned to work is adequately following safety protocols. He also said despite the pandemic, the office has a lot to celebrate as FY2020 comes to an end.
“Even with COVID-19 hitting us really hard starting in March, the research activity on this campus continues to grow,” Díaz de la Rubia said.
Díaz de la Rubia also said his goal for the FY2021 is for the office and research on campus to be very active.
Associate Vice President for Research and Partnerships Ann West provided details on the rapid response seed grant opportunity to conduct research on inequities in the academic research and creative activity enterprise.
West said the office received 25 proposals and hopes to have the turnaround period on the peer review process completed by July 10.
Díaz de la Rubia closed the meeting by advising faculty to be careful when returning to in-person work.
“I really encourage you all, if you can continue to work from home, work from home,” Díaz de la Rubia said.