November 13, 2015 – Grant writers from Fort Valley State University’s campus and the Middle Georgia community learned tips, techniques and skills to help them navigate and master the grant-writing process during the 11th annual Grantsmanship Institute Training Conference on Oct. 22. This year’s event was held in the C.W. Pettigrew Center.
FVSU administrators and faculty members welcomed current and aspiring grant writers to the event during the morning’s Opening Plenary ceremony.
“Our goal for this conference is to provide you with all the tools you’ll need to pursue external funding and manage those funds well,” said Lisa Wilson, director of the Office of Sponsored Programs. She explained that the information they learned would help them to become good stewards of their money, so they could help sustain it and grow it. The administrator told the group the OSP started the training conference 11 years ago to service their clientele base — novice and expert grant writers at FVSU.
“We looked at our diverse set of customers, and thought about how we could prepare those [to write grants] who have a broad range of experience,” Wilson said. “We decided to a workshop that can show aspiring writers where to start, no matter what level of expertise they have.” Wilson also emphasized the need for all applicants to have perseverance during the process — in case they are rejected by a funding agency, and need to rewrite and resubmit their grant application.
Dr. Rayton Sianjina, provost who said the conference would help the greater community at FVSU gain knowledge about the grant writing process introduced FVSU’s interim president Dr. Jessica Bailey.
‘”I’m so happy to see many of my colleagues in this room, because you feel how important what we are doing here today,” Bailey said. “If we can bring grant writing to a higher level, we are accomplishing one of the goals in our strategic planning. We’re all here, because we’re teachers: that is what higher education is about. All of us who are faculty members understand that it’s not just your teaching that you are evaluated on; it is also your research and your service. Grant writing is so important, that it is the third leg of the stool that holds the university up.”
Bailey explained that in the past, all a professor needed to do was teach their students, and they were not evaluated on their research or their service to students or the community. Today, she said, professors are required to do more research.
She told audience members that sound research also is crucial to inform public policy decisions to ensure that our society moves in the right direction. She explained that research broadens the number of individuals that professors are able to reach and teach. In a classroom, she said, only 25-30 students receive instruction, but thanks to refereed articles and grant-funded research, the classroom becomes an international one.
“When you teach, you reach a much broader audience,” the interim president said. “It’s become an indispensable part of our society.”
Wilson introduced keynote speaker, Dr. Celia Dodd, an assistant professor of biology to the audience, who is conducting toxicology research on campus. Dodd received a $399,049 grant from the National Science Foundation to pay for new lab equipment and support internships for students to conduct toxicology research.
“I never thought that in the fall of 2012, when I first attended the GITC, that I would be asked to give the keynote speech three years later,” Dodd said to the crowd. During a PowerPoint presentation “Proposal Perspective of a New Professor,” the researcher shared some of her hard-learned lessons about the grant writing process. As a postdoctoral student, Dodd said she wrote several grants proposals that failed to get funded for research projects that she wanted to conduct. She advised writers to follow the Standard Operating Manual for FVSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs.
She advised them before starting the grant writing process to speak to the OSP to see if they can apply for grant, since some funding agencies only allow a limited amount of submissions per school. She also advised grant writers to speak to their funding agencies to see if they would be interested in their idea.
‘If you have an idea, how do you know if it’s good or fundable?” Dodd asked. “ Because all ideas are pretty good when you come up with, call them to find out if it is something you’d want to fund early on. Some may say no.”
Dodd told the group to collaborate and get advice from their colleagues. Dodd said writers should to write their budget early in the process, and convince funding agencies they were capable of handling the project assigned to them. She also advised writers to tailor their proposals to specific announcements and to submit their proposals to the OSP (who will process the applications) 10 days before the announcement deadline, instead of last minute.
After the opening session, grant writers attended break-out sessions on redeveloping rejected proposals, final steps in security research and program support, and how to craft competitive submissions.
For details, contact the OSP at (478) 825-6253.