Hello and Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a much needed holiday break, after another very challenging semester.
I want to talk about a very important topic: communications. If an organization’s business functions can be compared to a circulatory system, distributing vital resources to maintain biological function, then communication is the nervous system. Its signals hold the organism together as a cohesive whole, passing information from one part to another and feeding vital data to the body’s executive capacity. Simply put, an organization with dysfunctional communications is very likely to be dysfunctional itself.
While interviewing for the job of VPR, I talked about the importance of effective communications in reaching UGA’s vast research potential. In my first day on the job, I met with our research communications director, Michael Terrazas, to talk about our priorities in improving our research and internal communications practices.
Last fall we surveyed you to gauge your needs and preferences for research communications (thanks to all of you who participated), and you’ll soon see the results of these efforts. First, most of you are reading this after receiving the Office of Research’s main internal newsletter, now called Research Insights, and you probably noticed some significant changes.
We’ll continue to rely on Research Insights as our primary vehicle for conveying regular, monthly updates about funding opportunities, policy changes and other news of interest to campus researchers. We also hope the newsletter’s new look and content make it both easier to read and more relevant.
One change is the addition of a funding opportunities section specifically for arts and humanities researchers, offered in collaboration with the Willson Center for Humanities & Arts.
If you are a humanities or arts scholar, or if you are looking for research collaborations with your colleagues in those disciplines, I encourage you to also subscribe to the Willson Center’s own newsletter to stay abreast of opportunities.
Another change we’re making is the creation of more opportunities for two-way communication with our researchers and scholars across UGA. Today, January 20, we are holding a town hall with personnel directly affiliated with the Office of Research, and next fall we plan to host a similar event that will be open to anyone on campus. I look forward to participating in these events and hearing feedback directly from you, the community we serve.
We’ll also revive the Research Live webinars launched during the pandemic. Originally conceived as virtual events to address research issues related to COVID, we will regularize this series to include monthly presentations from individual units within the Office of Research, while still leaving room to tackle specific issues ad hoc as they arise.
These are just a few of the more visible changes we are making, and we will use your participation and feedback to optimize these activities as we go. I realize that, in a university as large and complex as UGA, there is no way we can fully address the needs of every individual researcher on campus. But we will try harder to make what we do more reflective of the diversity of inquiry at UGA, as well as provide enhanced mechanisms for you to provide feedback and help us continually improve.
Speaking of which, please share your feedback regarding communications either with me or with Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input is critical to ensuring that our activities meet the needs of the greatest number of investigators possible.
Thank you, and I hope 2022 is off to a healthy and productive start for all of you.
Karen J. L. Burg
Vice President for Research
Harbor Lights Chair in Biomedical Research