After four weeks with UArizona Research, Innovation & Impact (RII), Anteneh Belete Shibeshi, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutics at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, is hopeful about establishing a similar unit at home.
Shibeshi’s Tucson visit is the final phase of his participation in the University Administration Support Program (UASP) Fellowship in Research Management funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and implemented by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). Shibeshi and five of his colleagues from Addis Ababa University, along with other faculty and administrators from Africa and Eurasia won this highly competitive opportunity. Each award recipient visited a different U.S. research university with the goal of joining forces afterward to advocate for the new office at their university.
Dr. Shibeshi says onsite learning with RII has been invaluable. “Addis Ababa University is a research institution about the same size as the University of Arizona, but for many reasons, our level of research engagement and research funding is low. We cannot change everything, but my time at the University of Arizona shows me things we can do to reach success.”
Dr. Shibeshi made several observations at UArizona he hopes his home institution will eventually replicate:
- Buy-in from university leadership. “Because establishing a grants office is already in our strategic plan, I don't think convincing senior management will be a problem. The challenge will come with securing buy-in from those who control the channels we will need to implement the plan.”
- Financial self-sustainability. “Our administration will want to see that we bring money to pay the university administrative fee, cover expenses created by the new office, and provide money for research.”
- Staff professionalism and dedication. “Your people are committed to their jobs and believe that what they do is important. At home, we sometimes forget that. I can see that your agile and efficient service attracts resources.”
- A culture of rigorous research to the highest standards. “Implementing processes like what you have here will require cultural change, but I think our researchers will adapt once they see that policy and guidelines are in place and that following them produces good results.”
Dr. Shibeshi recognizes that establishing a research office is a tall order, so his priority is focusing on building AAU’s research operations of pre- and post-award services. As he is one of 6 UASP fellows from AAU, he’s optimistic.
“Addis Ababa University is the oldest and most prestigious university in Ethiopia, and our city is often called the capital of the continent. We have what we need to establish a successful research grants office. Of course, the model at the University of Arizona will need to be adapted to our circumstances, but I believe we can do this.”