Oct. 24, 2007
By Andrea Gibson
Ohio University has created a new research classification for employees who are supported by more than 50 percent of grant funding. The policy will help centers, institutes, schools and departments to hire staff "on demand" for specific projects.
University Human Resources initiated discussion and development of the policy last year to aid the research community, said Jim Kemper, associate vice president for finance and administration for human resources. The Vision OHIO committee on research and creative activity issues had recommended that the university offer more flexibility for research employee hires, added Jim Rankin, interim vice president for research.
The new policy acknowledges that the university may need to make rapid hires to get staff with appropriate skills on board, much more quickly than current business processes allow, Kemper explained. The policy also provides guidelines for which benefits the research employees are entitled to receive, as well as how those staff members are released from university employment once the grant-funded projects end.
The classification offers an alternative to the traditional administrative and classified categories of employment. Ohio University defines "research employees" as non-faculty, non-student employees who are externally funded, and who predominantly conduct or support experimental, applied or theoretical research work in a particular discipline, according to the policy.
The policy applies to hires who are funded by more than 50 percent of the following sources: external grants and contracts, start-up funds for new faculty, restricted accounts, foundation accounts, internal awards and research incentive funds.
The research employee classification is used at other universities, Rankin said.
"We've taken every benefit that an administrator or classified person would get and rolled it into this policy," he added.
Rankin, who previously served as director of the university's Avionics Engineering Center, and Stephanie Howe, associate director for human capital and operations with the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs, agree that the new classification will benefit many areas of the university that handle major grant-funded projects.
"This new research appointment enables the Voinovich School and other project-based organizations at Ohio University to more efficiently and effectively meet externally funded project needs by streamlining the hiring process," Howe said. "This helps us maintain our commitment to being a results-based, high performing organization that recruits talented people from diverse backgrounds to work in our organization."
The full policy is available at www.ohiou.edu/policy/40-057.html.