Tracy Eisenhower

Tracy Eisenhower

Following a national search, a higher education professional with two decades of experience in sponsored research, grants management, and administration has been selected as the executive director of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Research Institute by the IUP Research Institute Board of Directors.

Tracy Eisenhower, of Indiana, begins her work in the position today.

“I thank search committee chairperson Robin Gorman and the search committee for their careful and diligent work to identify the best candidate for the position,” IUP Research Institute Board President David Antolik said.

“Dr. Eisenhower has done a stellar job as the interim executive director of the Research Institute and is absolutely deserving of the permanent role. I, and the IUP Research Institute Board of Directors, are confident that Dr. Eisenhower’s historical knowledge and passion for IUP and its research mission will continue to position the Research Institute for ongoing success and new opportunities, especially as IUP moves forward with a proposed college of osteopathic medicine.”

The IUP Research Institute, created in 2004 as an independent entity, advances IUP’s research agenda and educational objectives. The only program of its kind in the State System of Higher Education, IUP’s Research Institute provides services to IUP, Commonwealth University, and PennWest University, working to connect researchers from across the state, facilitate collaborative grant proposals, and provide management of grant awards focusing on compliance of activities, expenditures, and deliverables.

IUP has an affiliation agreement with the Research Institute to serve as the fiscal and administrative agent for sponsored research and other externally funded projects conducted by the faculty and staff of IUP. The Research Institute is governed by a board of directors, with IUP President Michael Driscoll and Hilliary Creely, IUP dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research, as ex-officio members.

In addition to pre- and post-award services, including maintaining the compliance required for state and federal awards, the Research Institute team of 10 employees is committed to helping IUP faculty, staff, and students be successful in sponsored research, including through its PI (principal investigator) Mentorship Academy; workshops, presentations, and trainings; and cosponsorship of IUP’s annual Research Appreciation Week.

The Research Institute team has a myriad of professional certifications and expertise, holding memberships in many professional organizations in order to assist researchers at every stage of the grant lifecycle, including reviewing proposals, developing budgets, negotiating and accepting contractual terms and conditions, ensuring allowable expenses during the period of performance, and working directly with funding agencies to manage deliverables and submit required reports.

Eisenhower and her team attend and actively participate in professional organizations like the Society for Research Administrators, the National Council of University Research Administrators, the National Organization for Research Development Professionals, and the University Connected Research Foundation.

Through the Research Institute, IUP was the only Pennsylvania university chosen for the University Administration Support Program Fellowships in Research Management funded by the International Research and Exchange Board. This program included a number of virtual training sessions presented by Eisenhower and the research team to select international educators, culminating with a month-long visit from researchers from Ethiopia and Nigeria.

Eisenhower has been a member of the Research Institute team since 2004, serving as the interim director since December 2022. She has worked in a variety of positions at the Research Institute, including as a pre- and post-award specialist, senior grant and contract specialist, and associate director. She has also been a consultant for the Office of Sponsored Research, Division of Research Administration on policy and procedure development and implementation for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Prior to her work with the Research Institute, she was associate director and co-investigator for the National Institute for Corrections Education, responsible for the execution of projects and activities for the project, which had a $1 million annual budget. She also has worked as the administrative assistant and campaign project manager for the Division of Institutional Advancement and with the IUP School of Continuing Education.

Eisenhower is a three-time IUP alumna, having earned a doctorate in administration and leadership studies in higher education, a master’s degree in industrial and labor relations, and a bachelor’s degree in English literature. She also holds a certified research administrator certification and a human resource generalist certification.

Eisenhower has been an invited presenter to a number of conferences and events, including the National Organization of Research Development Professionals, the Society for Research Administration, and the Council for Undergraduate Research. She also has provided training as a volunteer to the United Way of Indiana County on grants, contracts, and budgeting. In addition to her degrees, she has completed a number of training courses and workshops to maintain currency in the profession.

“I am excited that Tracy Eisenhower has accepted the position of executive director of the IUP Research Institute,” said Richard Neff, Indiana Regional Medical Center chief medical officer and member of the Research Institute Board of Directors. “I believe that she has the experience, imagination, drive, and determination to help the Research Institute take research across IUP and the other Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools that the Research Institute contracts with to the next level.

“I am particularly excited about the opportunities to impact the health and welfare of rural Pennsylvanians with real-world research as IUP looks towards the proposed college of osteopathic medicine,” he said.

“I’m very honored and pleased to have been selected for the executive director position to continue the important work of the Research Institute,” Eisenhower said. “The team is extraordinary in their professionalism, expertise, and commitment to IUP and its success, and I am proud to serve in this leadership role.

“My future plans for the Research Institute include continuing to build a more cohesive work team and strengthening the partnerships among the Research Institute and various offices and individuals across campus, building on our already positive reputation across IUP, the Commonwealth, and PennWest campuses. We are lucky to have such a deep breadth of expertise within the Research Institute team, and we are appreciative to our board of directors and IUP leadership for their continued support. I am confident that, together, we will attack challenges and transform them into opportunities and continue to develop a legacy of research excellence,” she said.

“I also want to increase the visibility of the Research Institute executive director and the professional team across the campuses we serve by visiting and touring laboratories, meeting with researchers to learn more about their grant activities, expertise, and research passions. This knowledge will improve our ability to connect researchers across campus and grow interdisciplinary—and possibly inter-university—partnerships and opportunities. This will be imperative as IUP progresses with its plans for the proposed college of osteopathic medicine,” she said.

Annually, IUP has traditionally been successful in securing close to $12 million in sponsored research and grants; during the 2022–23 academic year, IUP received almost $20 million for sponsored research and projects during the last fiscal year, almost double from previous years’ funding totals.

“IUP’s ability to secure funds for research starts with our exceptional faculty, staff, and students, but IUP’s research infrastructure, especially our Research Institute, is key to our ongoing research success,” Creely said.

“Dr. Eisenhower has done an incredible job in supporting IUP’s research mission and in positioning the Research Institute as a proactive partner for faculty and staff in their work to secure and to manage grants and sponsored research,” Creely said. “She is a proven leader, and we are very fortunate to have her in the executive director position,” she said.

Funding for the 2022–23 fiscal year includes the largest grant commitment in IUP history—$11 million for cybersecurity education (a total of $4.5 million of this grant is included in IUP’s  2022–23 totals) and additional projects with local, state, national, and international impact.

Of the nearly $20 million in grant funds, more than $11.4 million is for public service programs; $3.6 million is for programs for academic and student support; more than $3.2 million is allocated for research projects; and more than $1.5 million is for scholarships.

“In addition to supporting our researchers and our students, the programs funded by these dollars impact Indiana County, our commonwealth, our nation, and communities all over the globe, and we are very proud to be a partner for IUP’s ongoing success in securing funding for its sponsored research,” Eisenhower said.

The largest increase in funding is from federal sources; the top five agencies to fund IUP projects are the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Commerce (all federal agencies); the remaining top funding source for sponsored research is the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Funding success is shared throughout IUP’s colleges and departments; all of IUP’s academic colleges received research funding, with three colleges home to funding of more than $1 million each. In all, eight departments, programs, or colleges received more than $1 million in funding during the 2022–23 fiscal year.

International projects funded during the past fiscal year include ones in Germany, Honduras, China, Guatemala, Mallorca, and Taiwan, including an archaeology field school where students worked to discover artifacts at the site of a World War II American plane crash in Germany.

Closer to home, funding was secured to support childcare for students who are parents; the establishment of makerspaces in Indiana, Armstrong, and Cambria counties; support for students who pursue education degrees to teach science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) in high schools; and excavation at the Jurassic National Monument site in Utah.

In 2022, in recognition of IUP’s research commitment and success, IUP was ranked as an R2 Doctoral University–High Research Activity (R2) by the National Center for Postsecondary Research’s 2021 Carnegie Classification. IUP is one of only two public universities in Pennsylvania and one of only 93 public universities with this ranking in the United States. More than 3,900 colleges and universities are included in the ranking system.