Research Administration Improvement Initiative (RAII)

This program was replaced by the Research and Sponsored Programs Administration Coordinating Council and Committees


The Research Administration Improvement Initiative (RAII) was formed in the summer of 2005 to create a framework for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of research administration activities performed at MIT. Changes in the funding and regulatory environments not only added complexity to the administration of research, but also  increased the demands on faculty and staff in all areas and at all levels of the Institute. The desired outcomes of this initiative included:

  • Reducing administrative burden and improving services for faculty
  • Adhering to regulatory compliance without compromising the ability to do outstanding research
  • Enhancing the existing skilled and knowledgeable administrative workforce
  • Maintaining an effective and efficient organizational structure
  • Identifying and providing tools and systems that aid faculty and administrative staff

Leadership and Organizational Structure

RAII was sponsored by Claude Canizares, Vice President for Research and Associate Provost; Rafael Reif, Provost; and Theresa Stone, Executive Vice President. 

Steering Committee


Patrick Fitzgerald (Office of Sponsored Programs)
Ronald Hasseltine (School of Science)

Colleen Leslie (Office of Sponsored Programs)
Marilyn Smith (Provost Office)


Robin Elices
(Administrative Services Organization)

Diane MacDonald
(Broad Institute)

Gillian Emmons
(Controller’s Office)

Doreen Morris
(Provost Office)

Deborah Fisher/Tim Gordon
(Audit Division)

Eileen Nielsen
(Office of Sponsored Programs)

Ron Hasseltine
(School of Science)

Charlene Placido
(Provost/Office of VP for Research)

Marc Jones
(School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences)

Marilyn Smith
(Provost/ Office of VP for Research)

Sheila Kanode/Eileen Ghavidel
(School of Engineering)

Judith Stein
(Human Resources)

Colleen Leslie (Office of Sponsored Programs)

Project Manager: Cecelia Wardle (Executive Vice President)


RAII activities were organized around five key areas:

  1. Roles and Organizational Structures
  2. Training
  3. Policies and Processes
  4. Technology Resources
  5. Faculty Resources


Sub-teams were formed in each of these five areas. All sub-teams were composed of administrators in academic and administrative units, and were led by a member of the Steering Committee. Approximately 70 individuals from across campus were engaged in RAII activities. The charge to the teams was set by the Steering Committee; the teams developed work plans, timelines and deliverables. Each sub-team had an identifiable goal that contributed to the overall function of RAII. Details on key accomplishments and next steps in each RAII’s areas of focus follow. 

Roles and Organizational Structure

Charge: Understand and define the roles and responsibilities in research administration; study effective organization models that exist within Departments/Laboratories/Centers (DLCs); identify enhancement opportunities; and propose other models for consideration

Key Accomplishments

  • Recommended a review of research administration positions and job descriptions to ensure consistency and equity across the Institute. Developed a Research Administration Job Level Guide for departmental research administrators; and recommended a parallel guide for the Office of Sponsored Programs which was developed by Human Resources
  • Developed the “Life of a Grant Process Hierarchy” and “Roles and Responsibility Accountability Matrix”; piloted in the School of Science; now utilized by Human Resources Officers and by Organization and Employee Development Consultants for areas that are contemplating reorganization or staffing change
  • Recommended several possible enhancements to existing models; enhancements to OSP/DLC relationships implemented


Research Administration Job Level Guide for departmental research administrators and a parallel guide for the Office of Sponsored Programs developed by Human Resources

Policies and Processes Team

Charge: Identify and collect a comprehensive list of policies that govern research at MIT and make them available to the community. Evaluate policies for clarity and usefulness, make recommendations for improvements to policies and identify areas where policies are needed.
Key Accomplishments:

  • Identified 150 policies related to research
  • Evaluated frequently used policies
  • Developed a key word index for research policies, linking key works to the corresponding policy
  • Made recommendations on policies that needed clarification



Charge: Create web-based fundamentals training

Key Accomplishments:

  • Developed Sponsored Programs Reference Manual
  • Hosted 2.5-day workshop entitled “Financial Research Administration,” which was developed and delivered by the National Council of University Research Administrators (March 19–21, 2007)
  • Initiated OSP roundtable sessions on specific research administration topics
  • Developed STARweb (Specialized Training for Administrators of Research) training program; conducted pilot April–June 2007; and fully implemented Fall 2007


  • Sponsored Programs Reference Manual 
  • STARweb, an online training to introduce the basic principles and policies of sponsored research administration. STAR stands for Specialized Training for Administrators of Research. 

Technology Resources

Charge: Assess the effectiveness of research administrative systems, reports, and tools; and make recommendations for improvement

Key Accomplishments:

  • Recommended the development of a forecasting tool; project is under development by IS&T (FY2009–10)
  • Recommended the development of a Research Administration Portal as part of InsideMIT; and recommended OSP website redesign project (currently under way)
  • Provided key data integration and fixes


  • Report

Faculty Resources

Charge: Create research administration resources for faculty and principal investigators (PIs)