OARS Director bids Miami a fond farewell

Tricia Callahan gets a hug goodbye from Miami professor Ben Gung.

A few years ago, Miami put forth a call for essays asking students to reflect on what wisdom they have gained from the heritage of the institution, connecting “Old Miami” to their experiences as current undergraduates. Being a Miami alumnae, a current Miami employee, and having two daughters who attended Miami, I nostalgically put forth an essay because at that time I couldn’t help but think about all Miami had meant, and continued to mean to me.

As I prepare to leave Miami for my new position at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, I find myself again reflecting on what Miami means to me. Only this time instead of nostalgia, my reflections are filled with a tinge of sadness. I will be sad to leave this place because of the people of Miami. During the last nine years (I can’t believe it’s been that long), I have had the pleasure of working with many of you on your grants and contracts. I’ve gotten to see your projects come to fruition and your undergraduate and graduate students grow (some of whom have written and received their own grants). I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to your students’ senior capstone/research presentations and the delight of sharing in your news when you were funded. I’ve also been there to share in your disappointments and help you work through grant and administrative setbacks — we weathered them together.

In the OARS office, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with and learning from my counterpart, Anne Schauer. She really knows her stuff, so rely on her knowledge to assist you. And please treat her kindly when I am gone as she will be alone in helping the entire university research community get their budgets in order, their grant proposals submitted, their contracts reviewed and issued, their progress reports turned in, and more. Be certain to give her an extra early heads up!

I have also had the pleasure of working with a great editor, task master, and probably one of the most organized people I’ll ever meet — Heather Johnston. I have great respect for her, and I know she’ll go far. (BTW, if you ever need editorial assistance, she is your go-to person.) And then there is Vanessa Gordon, the glue who holds us all together. She can get you a report on the state of funding at the institution while booking a room for your next event all while processing, organizing, and juggling three staplers, a proposal file, and a payment requisition. She is AMAZING, and add to that, she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Speaking of nice people, it is your fault (the collective you) that I landed the position in Colorado. I write this because in my interview I was able to honestly say that I worked in a place that I love, with people I love. And when I was asked by the search committee, “How have you handled a situation in which a faculty has been upset or irate with you?” I was able to respond that I’ve not had to. It’s simply a matter of being nice to each other. I don’t know if it’s something in the Oxford water or if it’s just part of the Miami Code of Love and Honor, but whatever it is, it’s working. Keep up the good work.

Just a few more things before I go. First, many of you have asked, “What will you be doing at CSU?” I have been hired to be their “Senior Research Education and Information Officer,” which translates into my developing an educational/professional development training program for their sponsored research administrative staff and faculty. I will also help them with policy development. (You know, those things that our Federal auditors look to see if we have in place to ensure we are keeping a watchful eye on how grant funds are administered).

Second, we have a wonderful compliance staff (Neal Sullivan and Jen Sutton) as well as a great working relationship with our grant accountants (Linda Manley, Cindy Green, Kathy Kihm, and Paula Murray) — another great group of individuals. Not many institutions are so fortunate in having their compliance and pre- and post-award teams work together in harmony. We run a tight ship with a lean crew, but it’s a friendly crew that works together to ensure the ship remains upright and on-course.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Jim Oris. I was fortunate that I came when I did in 2008, as Dr. Oris started within a month or so of my arrival. I’ve had good bosses and not-so-good ones — Jim is a great one. He is a great leader and mentor, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that he allows his staff the latitude to do the good work we have learned to do and that he supports us in our professional development. He values input from the entire team on shaping the direction, building, and supporting sponsored research at Miami and provides a vision for the research enterprise that is far-reaching. He is a leader to be emulated. (By the way, you can blame him too for my landing the job in Colorado, as he let me try, and sometimes fail, while supporting my professional growth in sponsored research 100%).

So today if I had to write an essay reflecting on what wisdom I have gained from the heritage of the institution, connecting “Old Miami” to its current state, I would have to shorten it down to: “To think that in such a place, I led such a life.”

Thank you all so very much for nine wonderful years! Please keep in touch via Linkedin, Facebook or good old fashioned e-mail (tricia.callahan@colostate.edu).


Written by Tricia Callahan, Director, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Photos by Alan Schauer for OARS.

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