Sponsored Programs Administration appoints new leaders

By Jane Hirtle

Michelle Wachter
Michelle Wachter

Michelle Wachter has been named assistant director of Sponsored Programs Administration, and Janiece Harrison, formerly the full-time director of SPA before retiring in December 2018, has been named interim director while the office launches a national search to find a new full-time director.

Wachter will report directly to the director of SPA; oversee all pre-award proposal review, approval and submission and non-financial post-award functions; act as the SPA liaison with Research Finance on financial post-award functions; and support the advancement of research administration university-wide in close collaboration with the SPA leadership team and research administrators across all schools and colleges.

“Michelle brings expertise, team spirit and leadership to the assistant director role, the same skills she has demonstrated so impressively by managing the submission of over 2,000 proposals and set-up of more than 900 awards every year to advance research at Vanderbilt,” Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan said. “She exemplifies excellence, sound judgment and a willingness to find the right solutions to challenging problems. She will be a dedicated leader to our Sponsored Programs Administration team as well as a trusted partner to our interim and future directors of SPA.”

Janiece Harrison
Janiece Harrison

Wachter earned her M.S. in public administration and is a certified research administrator with more than a decade of experience in research administration. She has been with SPA since its inception in 2016, rising to the role of proposals and awards manager in 2019.

As assistant director to both the interim and future full-time director of SPA, Wachter will provide continuous support and leadership in research administration across the university through that transition of leadership as well as the phased implementation of the new Vanderbilt Electronic Research Administration (VERA) system, which is set to replace the outdated Coeus and PEER systems beginning this fall.

In her role as interim director, Harrison will join Wachter in working closely with Director of Research Administration Systems and Reporting Hilda McMackin and Assistant Provost for Process and Solution Implementations Greg Kyle along with other key members of the VERA implementation team and the university research community at large.

The search for a full-time director of SPA is ongoing. Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply. Contact for more information.