OVPRI names new lead for Sponsored Programs Administration and Compliance


The Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Innovation has appointed Jean Mercer as senior assistant provost for Sponsored Programs Administration and Compliance. Mercer brings more than 25 years of research administration experience, including pre- and post-award reporting, compliance with new federal regulations and research administration staff training and development. She will begin her new role on March 20. 

“I am delighted to welcome Jean to our team,” said Padma Raghavan, vice provost for research and innovation. “Her many years of experience and leadership across a range of areas in sponsored projects and compliance will greatly benefit our research community, empowering our faculty and research administrators to advance high-impact research and innovation.”  

As senior assistant provost, Mercer will oversee an expansive portfolio, including grant proposal submission and non-financial award set-up under Associate Director Michelle Wachter, negotiation and management of contracts and subawards under Associate Director Sara Maddox, research administration systems reporting under Director Hilda McMackin, and training and procedures under Laurel Duncan-Biqiku within Sponsored Programs Administration. Additionally, Mercer will oversee Research Integrity and Compliance functions under Assistant Provost Liane Moneta-Koehler. 

I look forward to working with the SPA and Research Integrity and Compliance teams in supporting Vanderbilt’s research community—and to helping further grow the university’s reputation as a nationally ranked research institution,” Mercer said.  

Mercer began her career in 1996 at Indiana University, where she worked for 20 years at the department, college and university level, ending as their director of grant services. There, she managed a large staff and implemented a new grant administration software system before moving to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 2016.  

In Knoxville, Mercer served as associate vice chancellor for research administration, leading teams and initiatives across a range of relevant areas. 

As a certified research administrator, Mercer has engaged deeply in critical national conversations in the field over the course of her career, including as a recurring presenter and contributor to the Society of Research Administrators International, university administrative representative at the Federal Demonstration Partnership meetings and university representative at the Council on Governmental Relations. 

Mercer earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in international business from the University of Colorado. She earned a master’s degree in research administration from the University of Central Florida. 

Vanderbilt Sponsored Programs Administration serves as a central resource for research faculty, providing guidance and support on processing proposals and negotiating grants, contracts and other agreements. Research administration systems and reporting, as well as training and procedures related to sponsored programs and the Vanderbilt Electronic Research Administration system, also fall under SPA’s purview. 

Vanderbilt Research Integrity and Compliance program began in 2022 and coordinates with a network of offices and schools to help faculty, students and staff to meet regulatory, legal and ethical obligations that accompany research.