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“In Sanskrit, veera means hero, and it stands for courage,” Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan told a crowd gathered in the Student Life Center to celebrate the successful implementation of the Vanderbilt Electronic Research Administration system. “It took a lot of courage for each and every one of you to undertake this project over two long years.”
Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver and Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs Douglas Christiansen joined Raghavan in speaking at the VERA celebration May 24 and shared their appreciation for the Vanderbilt community’s hard work, creativity and teamwork in launching VERA.
Raghavan opened the event by highlighting major milestones in the implementation, from the initial selection of Huron as the system vendor through the process of configuring and testing the VERA system to the phased system launchand the continuous improvement that followed. She also lauded instrumental teams and individuals, including the Leadership Advisory Committee, Research Administrator Working Group and the Vanderbilt University Research Council, as well as faculty and staff from across campus.
The event marked the culmination of the VERA implementation, which required more than two years of deep collaboration led by the Sponsored Programs Administration within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Academic Affairs Process and Solution Implementations within the Office of the Vice Provost for Enrollment Affairs. Other teams were heavily involved, including research administrators and faculty across all schools and colleges, as well as Research Finance within the Office of Finance and Vanderbilt University Information Technology. Working together, these partners enabled Vanderbilt to transition from the old, outdated Coeus and PEER systems to the new VERA system from Huron, using a phased launch approach that allowed end users to gradually learn and adjust to the new system.
In his remarks, Christiansen spoke about VERA as a transformative application that links the research enterprise to the student experience to leave a meaningful impact on society.
“When we see the tie between research, the experience of our undergraduate and graduate students, and our faculty who are succeeding with their research endeavors, I hope we can realize that VERA is more than a research application. It’s a sophisticated and expansive system that will streamline and continue to transform Vanderbilt University to the next level of excellence as we think about the creation of new knowledge; the undergraduate, graduate and faculty research experience; and ultimately making society better through Vanderbilt’s research,” he said.
Raver focused on the impressive output of the teams involved, not only in advancing the university’s research and academic mission but also the lives and careers of the individual faculty who use the VERA system to submit proposals and receive awards from external sponsors.
“You have provided unbelievable support and guidance to colleagues across the university, and the metrics of that include over a thousand support tickets, hundreds of office hour sessions, submission of more than 900 proposals and receipt of more than 500 awards from federal sponsors—just phenomenal levels of productivity. Those dollars are because of the work that each of you does,” Raver said.
The celebration highlighted individuals and teams who made critical contributions to the VERA implementation. While this event marked the formal conclusion of the VERA implementation process, the SPA team and its partner offices will continue to offer support and guidance to VERA users, including continued process improvement, trainings and other forms of engagement.
VERA users are always welcome to email VERAhelp@vanderbilt.edu or contact Hilda McMackin, director of research administration systems and reporting, and Laurel Duncan Biqiku, training and policy manager in SPA, with questions or concerns.