Advancing Research Excellence Update: Beitle, Davis Leading Key Offices and Initiative

Bob Davis, left, and Bob Beitle
University Relations

Bob Davis, left, and Bob Beitle

The Division of Research & Innovation entered 2024 with a strong commitment to the 150 Forward goal of achieving a “research enterprise that adopts and develops best practices in research administration.” To provide operational leadership and focus on goal attainment, Vice Chancellor Margaret Sova McCabe has appointed Bob Beitle as director of research integrity and compliance and Bob Davis as director of the Office of Sponsored Programs. Davis was also named associate vice chancellor while Beitle continues to serve as senior associate vice chancellor.

“Bob Beitle and Bob Davis bring the knowledge and skills to advance our ability to provide nimble, expert service to our campus researchers,” said Sova McCabe. “Today’s research world is increasingly complex, from an increased national focus on research security to major revisions to grant administration guidelines; I know both Beitle and Davis will lead campus efforts with energy and expertise.”

High quality research administration is essential for faculty winning the trust of funders — and to ensure that their work is conducted to the highest quality of research standards. Sova McCabe noted that research administration can be viewed as “boring or irrelevant when it is actually an essential component of our research credibility. I’m proud that the University of Arkansas has recognized that a fundamental building block of our success is a research administration appropriately scaled to the size of our research enterprise. Chancellor Charles Robinson is unequivocal in his support for our drive to build a deep and lasting reputation for high quality research outputs that have an impact on our economy and society. Research administration is foundational to that goal.”

She pointed out that Beitle has already led a team to implement conflict of interest and commitment, and outside employment reporting in Workday. “We could have waited a year, but Bob encouraged his team to adopt the Workday process to ensure better accessibility by employees and compliance monitoring overall. I’ve been impressed with his desire to innovate and continuously improve. We have an ambitious agenda for 2024, and I’m glad Bob stepped up to lead — he has unmatched connections to faculty and their research, and I know he’ll use that knowledge to create a forward-leaning research integrity and compliance operation.”

Similarly, Davis has jumped into the transformational work that began in 2021 with the Huron Group. Not only has he led the reorganization of the Office of Sponsored Program’s work and its business processes, but he’s also done so with the understanding that high quality research outputs come from strong partnerships with the university’s academic units. “Bob has already created the research administrators’ forum (RAF) to ensure good communication, efficiency improvements and strong partnerships. His professional experience at a large, complex R1 is paying off for us every day in optimizing Workday and ensuring we become a best practices operation. Most of all, Bob cares about the people in the research enterprise and making sure they have the tools to excel. His combined experience with Huron and Yale makes him an ideal leader to drive 150 Forward progress in research administration,” Sova McCabe said.

A comprehensive research university with significant emerging strength in applied research, the U of A is a Carnegie-classified “very high research university” (R1) with NSF HERD FY22 expenditures of $184 million. It will open the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research (I³R), the Multi-User Silicon Carbide Research and Fabrication Facility (MUSiC) and the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, all applied research buildings, in the next 12-18 months.

This is the first announcement by the Division of Research and Innovation in its series of quarterly updates on Best Practices in Campus Research Administration.


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