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Office of Research Administration

A Brief History of The Office of Research Administration at Morgan State University

While academic research has been conducted at MSU for many decades, sponsored research administration was first formalized with the establishment of the MSU Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (OSPR) in 1988, with the appointment of Dr. Edet Isuk as the Founding Director and a staff member serving as the Secretarial Assistant. Prior to that, no single office was charged with reviewing, approving, and submitting research proposals for extramural funding. Organizationally, the Director reported to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Total extramural funding at the time averaged around $7M annually.

OSPR was tasked to assist PIs with concept development, identification of potential appropriate extramural funding mechanisms, proposal and budget preparation, and submission of competitive proposals. Additionally, following an award, OSPR was (and is) involved in some aspects of financial management of the award, including submission of the technical reports and close-out reports.

In 1997, Dr. Henry Williams was hired as the new Assistant Vice President for Sponsored Program, elevating the status of OSPR, and reporting directly to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Williams served in this position for five years, until 2002. His tenure marked an interval of considerable growth. The staff grew to 11, including the Title III Program staff. Similarly, the OSPR administrative functions expanded to encompass not only pre- and post-award administration, which includes proposal submission, budget review and oversight, but also research compliance, time and effort reporting, processing contracts and subcontracts, compiling grant and contract metrics and business development. Total extramural funding increased to $24M.

Following Dr. Williams’ departure in 2002, Dr. Mildred Ofosu joined MSU, serving as the Assistant Vice President for Research, a position that she held until 2020. Title III Program and staff were reassigned from OSPR to Academic Affairs shortly after Dr. Ofosu’s arrival. However, the OSPR maintained consistent growth in its extramural funding portfolio, as well as in the quality of its services to PIs/PDs. Total annual extramural funding grew to around $30M over that period.

In 2012, President Wilson decided to further enhance research and other sponsored programs by creating the Division of Research and Economic Development (D-RED) and hiring a Vice President to lead the newly established Division. Dr. Victor McCrary was appointed the inaugural Vice President, who led the Division from 2012 to 2018. During his tenure, there was an increased emphasis on:

  • Acquiring multi-year funding for major transdisciplinary projects such as ASCEND (A Student-Centered Entrepreneurship Development Model to Enhance the Diversity of Biomedical Research Workforce);
  • Establishing and equipping research centers, such as the PEARL (Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory); and
  • Establishing an Office of Technology Transfer.

In 2018, Dr. Willie May, the former Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the former Under Secretary of Commerce accepted to serve as the new Vice President for Research. In 2020, following the retirement of Dr. Mildred Ofosu, Dr. May selected Dr. Farin Kamangar to serve as the Assistant Vice President for Research, and OSPR became the Office of Research (ORA) Administration.

Under Dr. May’s leadership, there were major advancements in total funding, some of which include:

  • Renewal and substantial expansion of GESTAR (GESTAR II), a cooperative agreement receiving $28 million from NASA;
  • Renewal of ASCEND, a cooperative agreement receiving an additional $17 million from the NIH;
  • Receiving funding to establish RCMI at Morgan, a cooperative agreement receiving $15 million to establish research centers at MSU to establish health disparities;
  • Center for Advanced Electro-Photonics and 2D Materials, a cooperative agreement funded by the Department of Defense for $7.5 million;
  • A program to conduct research and education in equitable artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), a grant funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for $9 million

As a result of these developments, in 2022, the new funding commitments that MSU received reached $72 million.

Furthermore, under Dr. May’s leadership, MSU has:

  • Established multiple research centers, with over $15 million of recurring funds from the State of Maryland;
  • Enhanced its technology transfer program to be among the top 10 universities nationwide, when adjusted for research expenditures;
  • Substantially enhanced its research portfolio, encompassing both STEM and non-STEM research that address health disparities.

The timeline below shows MSU’s ascending path over its history. MSU’s strategic goals to further enhance its research program to become a Carnegie-classified® R1 (Doctoral University – Very High Research Activity) by 2030.

  • 2018: R2 Designation
  • 2017: Named State of Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University
  • 2016: Office of Technology Transfer is established
  • 2012: Division of Research & Economic Development is established.
  • 2006: R3 Designation
  • 1998: School of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences is founded
  • 1988: Office of Sponsored Programs and Research is established
  • 1984: School of Engineering is founded
  • 1983: First doctoral student graduates
  • 1975: Morgan State University
  • 1939: Morgan State College
  • 1890: Morgan College
  • 1867: Centenary Biblical Institute


For a more detailed history of MSU, please visit this link.