Modernizing Sponsored Research

Office of Research and Sponsored Projects

To provide responsive, compliant, and best-in-class operations on behalf of the U-M research enterprise, the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) has been working to reimagine current workflow and is launching a realignment.

Back to ORSP

ORSP will realign to strengthen sponsored research operations

Based in the Office of the Vice President for Research, ORSP last year reviewed and submitted 7,500 research proposals, managed activity on 2,700 sponsored awards, and negotiated nearly 2,000 contracts and agreements on behalf of U-M to support faculty and staff across disciplines.

ORSP’s realignment is necessary to modernize, enhance, and elevate operations; to best position its team and operations for anticipated growth, and to strengthen ORSP’s overall support of the University of Michigan research community.

“Our ultimate goal is to modernize, enhance, and elevate ORSP workflow and business processes to ensure responsive, compliant, best-in-class operations so that our research community can continue to generate new knowledge and discoveries that positively impact the world around us.” - Shandra White Assistant Vice President for Research-Sponsored Projects U-M Office of Research and Sponsored Projects

Progress Updates

Stay tuned on ORSP’s progress throughout the realignment.

May 2024

 People & Processes


  • ORSP will implement a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) Solution (5/2/2024)
April 2024
People & Processes

  • Fabio Chimienti named Senior Project Manager (4/15/2024)
  • Erin Kingsley named
    Manager, Pre-Award Team (4/8/2024)
  • Emily Baxter named new Director, Contracts (4/1/2024)
March 2024
February 2024

Socialize realignment planning with key constituencies:

  • Research Administrators’ Network (RAN) – ORSP Realignment Presentation (2/27/2024)
  • Research Administration Advisory Council (RAAC) Committee at Large (CAL) (2/20/2024)
  • RAAC Executive Committee (2/13/2024)
  • OVPR Leadership
  • ORSP Staff
  • ORSP Leadership
      January 2024

      Select and Appoint New Leadership

      • Director, Operations & Administration (1/8/2024)
      • Associate Director, eRA Systems (1/11/2024)


      • As ORSP is positioned to launch a Realignment, it has 70 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff members, and is fully-staffed at pre-realignment/current state structure.
      • ORSP will expand to 81.

      Soft-launch Pre-Award team

      • Soft-launch of ORSP’s new Pre-Award team. While ORSP staff members manage all three business lines, the newly formed Pre-Award Team is trained and begins to assume responsibility for more proposal activity. (1/29/2024)
      • Finalize organizational chart, timing, headcounts, rollout of teams, and establish new positions with U-M HR  approved titles. (1/8/2024)
            November - December 2023

            ORSP begins reimagining workflow and processes toward a model that will modernize, enhance, and elevate operations.

            • Hire Executive Director, Sponsored Project Operations – Andrea Anderson (11/1/2023)
            • Assistant Vice President for Research-Sponsored Projects, Shandra White, and Executive Director Andrea Anderson work with consultants to review and refine business processes, develop detailed project management plans for change management, communications, systems, training, and adoption.

            Realignment Overview

            The realignment will require a change in how we work with research administrators and faculty. We will follow a carefully established project plan to move into that new structure. There will be periods of adjustment as we implement these changes.

            Those changes will make it possible to meet our goal and ensure that we can provide the service level required for a responsive, compliant, and best-in-class operation in an evolving research enterprise.

            We will rollout over 13 months, in a phased approach, adhering to the detailed and multi-faceted project plan.

            Modernization Will Address


            Current State

            Future State


            Inability to effectively prioritize work (i.e.,) proposals over contracts); failed hand-offs;
            • The ability to prioritize similar work using same criteria
            • Greater transparency
            • Fewer handoffs


            Delayed responsiveness and communication;
            • Timely responsiveness
            • Effective communications
            • Proactive communication internally and externally


            Delays experienced by faculty and sponsors.
            • Improved turnaround time
            • Ability to measure performance to make proactive adjustments
            • Reduce unqualified delays

            Redesigning our workflow and business processes will streamline business functions to align with current and anticipated needs and growth.

            Download a print-friendly version of the table above.


            ORSP will scale our structure and functions to align with the university’s expanding research portfolio and the complexity of the work. Research Administrators will work three teams, or business lines, all of which ensure and safeguard compliance.

                • Pre-Award Team: Proposal Review, Approval, Submission, & Post Submission Actions
                • Contracts & Agreements Team: Contract, Award Review, Negotiation, Acceptance
                • Award Team: Award/Project Management (non-financial post-award: award acceptance, modifications, technical/progress reports, close-outs, sponsor interactions/communications/ approvals)

            Transition Plan

            ORSP will implement its realignment strategy over the next 13 months, utilizing a phased approach that aims to enhance structures and expand staff, roles, processes, training and systems.

            Implementation Plan by FY25 Q3


                • Develop and deliver training.
                • Streamline work and business lines.
                • Expand staff to 81 full-time equivalents.
              Animated view of how ORSP Realignment will transition

              Isolated Phase Images

              Phase 1 of 5 - ORSP Realignment

              Current State

              Phase 2 of 5

              Phase 1

              Phase 3 of 5 - ORSP Realignment

              Phase 2

              Phase 4 of 5

              Phase 3 & 4

              Future State ORSP Org Chart

              Future State




                  • Departments and RAs work with three separate teams of experts (called Sponsored Project Officers) who focus on proposals, contract negotiation, and award management.
                  • ORSP Staff can prioritize work based on the same criteria and focus on timely responsiveness.
                  • Primary business lines allow for fewer handoffs, reduced burnout, and optimized organizational efficiency.
                  • Prioritize similar work using same criteria, timely responsiveness.
                  • Realize benefits: Improved turnaround times with fewer handoffs, reducing burnout, and optimizing organizational efficiency.




                Defining Organizational Model Success

                Goal Create a more effective organization that is scalable, differentiates roles to develop domain expertise, establishes practices that support more timely outcomes while maintaining compliance, and meets service level agreements.
                Roles Growth & Retention Customer Service Training Efficiency Oversight & Monitoring
                Elements of a well-defined model.    
                • Well-defined roles and responsibilities that limit handoffs
                • Defined accountability supported by performance measurements
                • Clear path for career growth; natural progression of responsibilities
                • Ensure market-appropriate, equitable pay for staff within ORSP
                • Improved culture and job satisfaction
                • Scalable organizational design as we grow
                • On average, service level expectations are met
                • Pls are satisfied with the level of service
                • Generalized knowledge and focused portfolios provide better opportunities for coverage
                • Structured and formal training during on-boarding and throughout one’s career
                • Ability to onboard new staff quickly and effectively
                • Streamlined processes and reduced handoffs and touchpoints
                • Effective delegation
                • Eliminate unnecessary layers of management
                • Balances process control
                • Effective communication channels
                • Clear paths of escalation
                • Reduce unqualified delays
                • Ability to measure our performance to make proactive adjustments

                Download a print-friendly version of the table above.

                New Leadership Appointments

                Andrea Anderson, JD, CRA - Executive Director, Sponsored ProjectsAndrea Anderson, JD, CRA

                Executive Director, Sponsored Projects

                Andy SatkowiakAndy Satkowiak, MBA, Ed.S.

                Director, Operations and Administration

                Karen AlameddineKaren S. Alameddine, CRA

                Director, Proposals and Award Management

                Emily BaxterEmily Baxter, JD

                Director, Contracts

                Tonia JacksonTonia M. Jackson, PMP, MBA

                Associate Director, eRA Systems

                Interviewing / Active Recruitment

                Title (U-M Job ID)

                • Assoc Director, Sponsored Contracts (248356)
                • Asst Director, Unfunded Agreements (248282)
                • Asst Director, Clinical Trials (248206)
                • Assoc Director, Award Mgt (248217) 


                Why should ORSP realign?

                In our previous structure, each staff member in ORSP has been responsible for concurrently managing actions from three business lines. There are numerous hand-offs within ORSP to complete actions for a single transaction. Impact: Inability to effectively prioritize work; failed hand-offs; delayed responsiveness and communication;  delays experienced by faculty and sponsors.  Staff experience burnout. 

                Will ORSP expand staff?

                Yes, the ORSP organization will expand to 81 positions, adding 11 positions from our structure in April 2023. At that time, ORSP had already added 61 positions for a total of 69, in response to a staffing benchmarking study conducted with other research universities.

                What is the scope of the new leadership roles and positions within ORSP?

                The new leadership roles will provide opportunities for growth in leadership. They help ensure we are appropriately guiding and supporting the team, responsive to direct reports, keeping a team informed, and mitigating issues that may arise with a complex project or project team need. In addition, managers have time to work on process improvements and contribute to projects that streamline operations

                When is this taking effect?

                This will take place in phases over a 13-month period. 


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