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Office of Sponsored Research Workers Attain Certification

By Jody Record, Media Relations
January 10, 2007

Two employees in the Office of Sponsored Research have achieved the designation “certified research administrator” after successfully passing a four-hour exam aimed at proving their “body of knowledge” supports the accreditation.

Andy Shepard, associate manager of research administration, and Tim Broadbent, a senior grant and contract administrator, took the computerized test in October. OSR executive director Kathy Cataneo led the way in 1998 when she became UNH’s first certified research administrator (CRA).

At that time, there were about 150 CRAs in the country. A year ago, that number had hit 735. Cataneo has been trying to encourage others in her department to follow Shepard’s and Broadbent’s lead.

“I’m very proud of Andy and Tim,” she says. “If nothing else, it demonstrates they really know their field. There’s a degree of comfort in having it reaffirmed that we really know what we’re talking about.”

The Research Administrators Certification Council, who gives the test, was formed in 1993 by the Society of Research Administrators. Eligible candidates must have a bachelor's degree and three years experience in research or sponsored programs administration or an associate’s degree and six to eight years of practical application.

Certification is good for five years. To be recertified, individuals must demonstrate continued involvement in the field and have taken or taught related educational courses. In addition to teaching, continuing education activities include serving on relevant boards, writing articles, and attending workshops and seminars.

Cataneo says she was “delighted” that Shepard sought the designation because he has been working in the field for more than 30 years. On the other side of that, Broadbent, who came to UNH only six months ago, provides the example that someone new can be successful in taking the test, Cataneo says.

“Not only is it wonderful how much experience and credentialing they have as individuals but the certification helps enhance the university’s image as well,” says Cataneo. “It adds credibility.”

Broadbent says taking the exam assured him he had the basic knowledge necessary to excel at his job. For Shepard, the test helped reacquaint him with protocols in areas he hadn’t worked with for a while, he says.

“Between the two of us, we knew most everything,” Shepard says. “We’re like Allstate: you know you’re in good hands with us. You know you have good support.”

Adds Broadbent, “As research becomes more complex, the need for competent administrators with greater depth and breadth becomes more complex.”

And that makes for complex testing, which is why the Society of Research Administrators decided the exam should address one’s body of knowledge. Areas of expertise tested include project development and administration, legal requirements and sponsor interface, financial management, and general management.

“It was tough,” Broadbent says of the exam. “I’ve taken tough tests before and this was tough.”

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