Careers at UMass Amherst

Senior Research Administrator

Apply now Job no: 503643
Work type: Staff Full Time
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: UMass Innovation Institute
Union: PSU
Categories: Business & Financial Services, Grants and Research

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.


Job Summary

Under the direction of the Director of the UMass Innovation Institute (UMII), the Senior Research Administrator facilitates and supports faculty research funding and other engagement with industry partners, collaborators and sponsors. S/he reviews, negotiates, and finalizes for acceptance by the Authorized Representative, grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements for research, instruction, and other public service funding received by the University from corporate sponsors, including domestic and international for-profit entities. Provides administrative oversight of sponsored projects to minimize the University’s compliance risk related to sponsored activities, consistent with UMII mandates, Trustee policy and other applicable regulations.  


Essential Functions

  • Reviews and/or writes bilateral sponsored research agreements;  Independently conducts a thorough review and assessment of contract terms and conditions, as well as applicable sponsor policies and pertinent laws and regulations, in order to negotiate appropriate terms on behalf of the University; recommending acceptance/approval for signature by a University Authorized Representative of agreements . Reads and analyzes legal agreements; recognizes unacceptable contract language.  Recommends acceptance of bilaterally executed agreements requiring legally authorized signatory.  Prepares risk assessments based on terms and conditions and ensures that entering into an agreement does not place the University at an unreasonable legal risk or in violation or conflict with University policy, federal regulation or Commonwealth law. Independently negotiates award terms and conditions directly with the sponsoring agency representative or legal counsel to achieve the best contractual relationship for the University.
  • Responsible for assuring that all compliance approvals have been obtained by the appropriate University regulatory committees (e.g., Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) prior to the release of award to the Controller’s Office for expenditure.
  • Reviews and recommends pre-award requests for advance spending. Monitors the status of existing pre-award account set-ups and follows up with sponsor to insure the award gets issued within a timely manner after.
  • Coordinates award set-up efforts to ensure that awards are being processed in a timely manner. Accountability for documenting any special reviews by other University offices such as the Technology Transfer Office, the General Counsel’s Office, Risk Management, etc., and for implementing/incorporating the results of the special review. Advises faculty and research administration staff regarding the obligations, risks and financial liabilities incurred as a result of the award terms; interprets applicability of complex legal terms to operational research activities. Responsible for the accurate input of award data and detailed budget information into electronic system for upload into the University’s accounting system. Interacts with various sponsor electronic portals for the retrieval and administration of post-award activities, interim reports, and close-out documents.
  • Finalizes awards, drafts and negotiates subcontract agreements, ensuring that all terms and conditions of the prime agreement are passed down to the subcontracting agency and that all required documentation, assurances, and compliance concerns are addressed. Responsible for evaluating post-award activity that deviates from initial proposal.  Approves re-budgeting requests, major equipment purchases, and alterations in personnel activities for referral to the sponsoring agency for action. Independently advises and guides faculty, staff, and the Controller’s Office on post-award activities; interprets and implements research administration guidelines, policies, procedures, and regulations.
  • Responsible and accountable for legal documentation representing the public record relating to sponsored research funding. Develops and delivers selected workshops, including the Brown Bag Series and other outreach efforts designed to train University faculty and staff in the proper stewardship of grant and contract funding. Responsible for evaluation and implementation of policies, procedures, and guidance (e.g., website communications) with regard to grant funded activities.
  • Serves as liaison and resource expert to faculty, staff for questions on UMII activities; provides interpretation and implementation of award terms, policies, procedures and regulations. 
  • Participates in the development of and delivery of workshops, trainings and web resources related to proper stewardship of sponsored project funding and other UMII award topics.
  • Responsible for reviewing and negotiating complex grants and contracts that comply with State Law, federal regulations, sponsor policies and University policies, working independently with minimal supervision needed.
  • Provides mentorship and guidance to less experienced research administrators within the office and out in the departmental units; assigned as team lead in areas relating to contract expertise for special projects and business process improvements.


Other Functions

  • Performs other related duties as assigned or required to meet Department, Executive Area/Division, and University goals and objectives.
  • Provides functional supervision of the University research community with regard to compliance issues.


Minimum Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • Bachelor’s degree plus 3 years of experience in a business or administrative setting dealing with proposal/award review and administration; or, an equivalent combination of education, experience and training totaling 7 years directly related to research administration or grant/contract administration with major sponsors such as Department of Defense, NSF, NIH, USDA, industry, etc.
  • Previous experience in an institution of higher education.
  • Extensive knowledge of compliance issues and federal regulations such as -The Uniform Guidance 2, CFR 200, A-133 or Single Audit, and Cost Accounting Standards coupled with a thorough understanding of the various sponsoring agencies' regulations.
  • Previous experience directly negotiating contracts and/or grants with industry. Demonstrated proficiency and accuracy in Award Processing.
  • Excellent presentation skills and ability to effectively coordinate and provide training and educational opportunities to the campus community.
  • Strong communication skills to effectively convey information, provide guidance and when dealing with a difficult situation to mediate an equitable solution.
  • Well-developed writing skills.
  • Ability to exercise diplomacy, establish effective working relationships, and maintain a high degree of professionalism when working with staff and faculty across campus, as well as sponsor representatives.
  • Demonstrated experience and ability to work effectively with various computer systems and on-line submission portals required.
  • Demonstrated ability to work under the constraint of deadlines, demonstrated ability to prioritize workload effectively to meet deadlines and assure timely processing of awards.
  • Certified Research Administration certification is required (or obtained within 2 years).
  • Successful contract negotiation experience.


Preferred Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

Experience using the Kuali system is preferred. 


Additional Details

May be required to work some nights & weekends. 

The position may be based either at the flagship campus in Amherst or at the Mt Ida campus in Newton with regular visits to each (travel reimbursed).


Work Schedule

M-F 8:30-5:00


Salary Information 

Level 27

PSU Salary Chart


Special Instructions to Applicants

Review of applications will begin December 8, 2019 and continue until the position is filled.  Required application materials include: a cover letter, resume and names and contact information for three professional reference.

UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University.  To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans.  It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.


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