Kimberly Eck, assistant vice chancellor for research development in UT’s Office of Research and Engagement, has been named president of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP).
With approximately 1,000 members, NORDP is a professional organization dedicated solely to research development (RD). The discipline encompasses a set of strategic, catalytic, and capacity-building activities that advance research, especially in higher education. RD professionals help researchers become successful advocates for their research and institutions create programs that spur discovery.
“NORDP is at a critical point as an organization, having rolled out a new three-year strategic plan,” Eck says. “In 2019, we had to cancel our much-anticipated annual conference because of COVID-19, so we’re reimagining how to deliver our networking and professional development opportunities in new ways. Like many other organizations, we’re thinking creatively,” Eck says.
Additionally, Eck notes, NORDP is deeply committed to fostering a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity in all its form “to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.”
For example, NORDP recently launched a series called “How to Start NORDP’s Conversation: A Journey to Justice,” which will provide a forum for conversation about current events that provides a safe space for NORDP members to share feelings, connect with colleagues, and suggest actions to take together and at home institutions.
As president, Eck will serve for a period of one year, from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. She was vice president/president-elect last year and will serve as immediate past president in 2021-2022. She will lead an all-volunteer organization, coordinating committee initiatives, building consensus, and listening to member needs. She plans to host virtual office hours and launch a new website summarizing actions related to NORDP’s strategic plan.
Eck is the assistant vice chancellor of research development at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, leading a team of RD staff who provide programming to increase the competitiveness of external proposals, facilitate internal and external collaborations, build research capacity, and support all forms of creative activity and scholarship. She manages several internal funding mechanisms on behalf of ORE and has taken an active role in initiatives to increase faculty diversity at UT. She also serves as adjunct assistant professor in UT’s Department of Public Health.
“It’s always encouraging to see UT talent share their leadership on a national scale,” says Matthew Mench, UT’s interim vice chancellor of research and engagement. He notes that Eck recently co-authored a paper titled, “Defining Research Development: A First Step,” in Research Management Review, which established the first evidence-based definition of research development. Eck’s current research includes exploring gender inequities within RD; how RD influences scientific and societal advances, and how RD is translated and measured.
“Since her arrival at UT, Kimberly has built a nationally recognized and highly innovative research development team,” Mench says.
Eck received her PhD in epidemiology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, her master’s of public health in epidemiology and behavioral Science from St. Louis University, and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining UT, she was associate vice president at Geisinger Health System and a manager at the Research Foundation for SUNY. In addition to her work at UT and NORDP, she has served on the Educational Investment Committee at the United Way of Greater Knoxville, the Tennessee Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, and the Pride Center of the Capital Region.