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History of ORSP

See our full 100th Anniversary Timeline and Resources


Alumni Interviewees

We express our sincere gratitude to Dennis Cebulski and Jim Randolph, former directors, who, through conversations and interviews and extensive research, helped document the history and valuable context for the timeline narrative.

    Past and Present Stewards

    • 1950 – 1968 Pierce H. (Hal) Farrar, Associate Director 
    • 1968 – 2013 Dennis J. Cebulski, Assistant Director
    • 2014 – 2016 Dan Stanish, Data and Reporting Manager and Jane Santoro, Office Administrator
    • 2016 - 2020 Kullie Kennedy, Senior Project Representative and Jane Santoro, Office Administrator
    • 2020 - present  Jane Santoro, Office Administrator and Constance Colthorp, Communications Manager


    We thank the efforts of the ORSP 100th Anniversary Committee: Hilary Bond, Linda Chadwick, Constance Colthorp, Cindy Dames, Arielle Javarinis, and Jane Santoro.

    ORSP celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2020. An office to partner with sponsors was established by the Board of Regents, on October 1, 1920. Our first chair was Albert White. A key advocate was Mortimer Cooley, dean of engineering from 1904-1914, who wrote that the university was not only responsible for educating the state’s youth, but also to provide opportunities for “faculty and students to engage in research for industry” to serve the university, its students, and the public good. 

    ORSP Interactive Timeline

    We share a few images and facts on this page. For our full story, visit our 100th Anniversary Interactive Timeline

    Office of Research Administration, 1960s, Dress CodeORSP in the 1960s

    Snapshots from our office and its dress code requirements in the 1960s.   

    Poster and Brochure


    Text-Based Timeline 

    Date Event
    June 27, 1916 A committee of Chicago alumni of the College of Engineering approaches the Board of Regents embodying the importance of doing technical research. No action taken.
    February 6, 1919 The directors of the Michigan Manufacturers Association meet to bring to the attention of the University "the importance of cooperation between the University and the industries of the State along the lines of technical and scientific research." Study committee appointed.
    October 1, 1920 Department of Engineering Research established by Regents. Albert E. White from Chemical Engineering was named Director at a salary of $5,000/yr. with a total departmental budget of $10,000. The industrial firms using this department will provide funding of any additional expense.
    1923-1950 Occupied offices in East Engineering Building.
    February-March, 1933 Research work forced to stop temporarily because of the banking situation.
    1935 Research expenditures increase by 50%.
    1946 Acquisition of Willow Run for aeronautic research.
    January, 1948 The Engineering Research Institute (ERI) supersedes the Department of Engineering Research.
    1949 Reserve for participating departments has been in effect for some time. Discontinued in 1953.
    May, 1949 Engineering Research Institute placed under the direct supervision of the Assistant Provost.
    1950 Business operations and service units exclusive of photographic were moved to the Mary Markley House.
    January 16, 1950 Report Engineering Research Institute needs more space.
    November 1, 1950 Engineering Research Institute under the administrative supervision of the Provost.
    November 27, 1951 Harlan Hatcher inaugurated as President.
    April, 1953 Accounting records of Engineering Research Institute transferred to Accounting Department.
    June 30, 1953 Albert E. White retires after 33 years as Director.
    July 1, 1953 A. B. Hicks appointed Business Manager for Sponsored Research. He took over the business matters on campus and Willow Run, being responsible to the Vice President for Business and Finance. Richard G. Folson became Director for the Engineering Research Institute. He was chairman of the Division of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California-Berkeley.
    October 24, 1953 Cooley Building completed. The Cooley Foundation, established in 1941, had raised $100,000. Accumulated indirect cost reimbursement funds in the amount of $1,045,000 used to complete the financing of the building.
    1954 The director of ERI and his immediate staff moved to the Cooley Building, with the exception of P. H. Farrar, Associate Director.
    February, 1956 Instrument Shop transferred from College of Engineering to ERI.
    September 25, 1956 Robert E. Burroughs was employed as Assistant Director.
    February 28, 1958 R. G. Folson left to become President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
    March 1, 1958 Robert E. Burroughs named Acting Director of UMRI.
    June 13, 1958 Regental Bylaw 31.15 revised to have the University of Michigan Research Institute supersede ERI, extending the institute's support in all sponsored research to all units of the University.
    July 1, 1958 Robert E. Burroughs named Director of UMRI.
    September, 1959 The post of Vice-President for Research was created. Dr. Ralph A. Sawyer assumed this post in addition to his responsibilities as Dean of the Graduate School.
    January 20, 1961 The Office of Research Administration (ORA) superseded the University of Michigan Research Institute.
    1961 Business operations and ORA Personnel Office and service units (not including photographic) moved into the temporary classroom building.
    April 15, 1963 Research Activities Building completed. This building cost $312,000 which came from the accumulation of indirect cost reimbursement.
    May, 1963 Research Administration Building completed. The cost was $647,000 which came from an accumulation of reimbursed indirect cost. The ORA staff including service units moved into the building with the exception of the Personnel, Safety, Patents and Editorial Offices that remained in the Cooley Building.
    July 24, 1964 A. Geoffrey Norman appointed Vice-President for Research, superseding R. A. Sawyer.
    June 15, 1965 Space Research Building was dedicated. This building was financed by a grant of $1,750,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The building was built by about $350,000 less than this amount, the difference being refunded to NASA.
    January 1, 1968 Robbin W. Fleming assumes Presidency.
    June 14, 1971 President appoints committee to study the Office of the Vice-President for Research. Charles G. Overberger, Professor of Chemistry, named as chairman. James E. Lesch, staff assistant.
    October 10, 1971 Overberger Committee issues report.
    September 1, 1972 Charles G. Overberger appointed Vice-President for Research, superseding A. G. Norman.
    January 1, 1973 Willow Run Laboratory separates from the University and becomes independent; name changed to Environmental Research Institute of Michigan. (ERIM).
    July 1, 1973 The Office of Research Administration renamed the Division of Research Development and Administration (DRDA). James E. Lesch appointed Director of DRDA; superseding R. E. Burroughs who retired.
    December 31, 1976 Photography Service Unit closes.
    July 1, 1977 Instrument Shop (Service Unit) transfers to College of Engineering.
    January 1, 1980 Harold T. Shapiro assumes Presidency.
    February 28, 1980 President appoints committee to review the functions and responsibilities of DRDA. Raymond H. Kahn, Professor of Anatomy and Director of Research at Ford Hospital, named Chairman.
    July 1, 1980 Begin the use of modified total direct cost as base for indirect costs set at 58%. Salary and wage base set at 77.6%.
    September 22, 1980 DRDA Review Committee issues its recommendations.
    July 31, 1980 Technical Typing Service Unit closes.
    July 1, 1982 Reproductive Services Unit closes.
    November 29, 1982 PRISM (Programmed Research Information System at Michigan) is rolled-out at an initial development cost of $7,500. This is a database of proposals and awards, as well as other actions processed by DRDA. The database was based on SPIRES (Stanford Public Information Retrieval System). First record was proposal number 83-0937.
    February 8-18, 1983 DRDA moves to West Engineering Building. Industrial and Operations Engineering will extensively remodel and occupy the Research Administration Building.
    February 9, 1983 President appoints committee to advise on the question of whether to merge the positions of Vice-President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. Harold R. Johnson, Dean of Social Work, named Chairman.
    April 20, 1983 Administrative Merger Advisory Committee issues report recommending merger of the Vice-President for Research and Dean of Graduate School. (Report not implemented.)
    July, 1983 Alfred S. Sussman, Dean of the Graduate School, named Interim Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Research.
    August 15, 1985 Linda S. Wilson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Associate Dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, assumes position of Vice-President for Research.
    Jan., 1987 A review of DRDA is conducted under the auspices of the Vice-President for Research.
    June 30, 1987 James E. Lesch retires as Director of DRDA. Martin H. Tobin is appointed Acting Director while a national search is conducted.
    May 15, 1988 Dr. Alan Walter Steiss, Associate Provost for Research and Director of Sponsored Programs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, begins his appointment as Director of DRDA.
    September 1, 1988 James J. Duderstadt assumes presidency.
    December 19, 1988 - January 4, 1989 DRDA moves from West Engineering to Institute of Social Research Annex III. Physics will remodel and occupy the north end of West Engineering.
    June 30, 1989 Linda S. Wilson resigns as Vice President for Research to assume the Presidency of Radcliffe.
    July 1, 1989 William C. Kelly, Associate Vice President for Research and Professor of Geological Sciences named Interim Vice President for Research.
    November 15, 1990 William C. Kelly, Associate Vice President for Research and Professor of Geological Sciences named Vice President for Research.
    January 22-23, 1991 U-M Students Against U.S. Intervention in the Middle East (SAUSI) occupies Director's office for 24 hours to "expose the University's efforts to deceive its role in developing genocidal weapons."
    March 26, 1991 - Spring, 1992 Advisory Committee on Improving the Quality and Cost Effectiveness of the Operations of DRDA is appointed by Vice President Kelly, meets and issues final report.
    August 23 - 31, 1993 DRDA moves to Wolverine Tower, 3003 S. State and becomes the first University unit to occupy the building. ISR expands into old DRDA space. Graphic Services remains in the ISR building.
    September 1, 1993 Homer A. Neal, chair of Physics, assumes the position of Vice President for Research as William C. Kelly retires.
    July 17, 1995 DRDA begins the newly established Periodic Unit Assessment Process.
    December 12, 1995 DRDA invites Professor William G. Dow to its annual Holiday Party. Professor Dow, an early pioneer researcher and on the staff of the Engineering Research Institute shares his remembrances on the occasion of his 100th birthday and DRDA’s 75 th anniversary.
    December 31, 1995 Graphic Services Unit closes.
    March, 1996 Self review phase of the Periodic Unit Assessment completed and report issued.
    July 1, 1996 Homer A. Neal named Interim President as President James Duderstadt retires.
    July 1, 1996 Frederick C. Neidhardt, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and Associate Vice President for Research named Interim Vice President for Research.
    September 4, 1996 External Review phase of the Periodic Unit Assessment completed and report issued.
    November 15, 1996 Alan Steiss appointed to coordinate the University's efforts to develop a research management system, part of the M-Pathways project. He continues to teach in the College of Architecture and Design.
    November 15, 1996 Marvin G. Parnes, Assistant Vice President for Research appointed as Assistant Vice President for Research and Executive Director of Research Administration.
    February 1, 1997 Lee C. Bollinger Provost of Dartmouth College and former Dean of the University Law School assumes the position of University president.
    February 1, 1997 Homer A. Neal returns as Professor of Physics and Director of the ATLAS Project.
    January 1, 1998 Frederick C. Neidhardt named Vice President for Research.
    January 1, 1999 Fawwaz T. Ulaby, Professor of Electrical and Computer Science named Interim Vice President for Research.
    March 19, 1999 Fawwaz T. Ulaby named Vice President for Research.
    June 30, 1999 Alan W. Steiss retires from the University.
    June 30, 2000 Research expenditures for FY 2000 reach an all-time high of $545,418,039.
    October 2001 President Bollinger announces his resignations to assume presidency of Columbia University on January 1, 2002.
    October 19, 2001 B. Joseph White former Dean of the Business School named Interim President effective January 1, 2002.
    July 1, 2002 Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Iowa and Professor of Biological Sciences, assumes 13th Presidency of the University.
    April 19, 2004 Vice President Ulaby named Vice President of Research at Purdue University effective September 1, 2004.
    August 9, 2004 Vice President Ulaby decides to stay at Michigan until a new Vice President is selected.
    June 1, 2005 eResearch Regulatory Management (Human Subjects) was “rolled out”.
    June 30, 2005 Research expenditures for FY 2005 reach an all-time high of $778,061,728.
    January 1, 2006 Stephen Forrest, distinguished Physics professor from Princeton University, assumes role of the Vice President for Research.
    September, 2006 Approval and funding for eResearch2.
    November 17, 2008 eRPM (electronic Research Proposal Management) is “softly” rolled-out to DRDA staff and limited units. This is a database of proposals and awards and other activities and a management system of routing and approvals, based on Click Commerce. The first record was 09-PAF00003.
    December 24, 2008 PRISM data is migrated to eRPM. There were 91,316 proposal records. eRPM is rolled-out to the University research community on January 2, 2009.
    June 30, 2009 Research expenditures for FY 2009 reach an all-time high of $1,016,565,913.
    May – August 2010 DRDA space at Wolverine Tower is renovated with new paint and carpeting.
    October 1, 2010 DRDA celebrates its 90th Anniversary with a Staff Appreciation Luncheon.
    January 1, 2012 Division of Research Development and Administration (DRDA) officially renamed Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP).
    May 1, 2012 Daryl C. Weinert, Executive Director of the Business Engagement Center, named Associate Vice President for Research Administration – Sponsored Projects. Marvin G. Parnes returns to full time duties in the Office of Vice President for Research.
    May 2012 Research Administration Advisory Council (RAAC) was founded, with the primary intention of organizing and energizing research community around optimizing the pre- and post- award processes at the University of Michigan.
    November 2012 – February 2013 ORSP space renovated for additional offices and larger conference room.
    July 1, 2014 Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) changes name to University of Michigan Office of Research (UMOR).
    December 31, 2013 Stephen Forrest steps down as Vice President for Research and returns to the College of Engineering for teaching and research duties.
    January 1, 2014 S. Jack Hu, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, and the J. Reid and Polly Anderson Professor of Manufacturing Technology assumes two year interim appointment as the Vice President for Research.
    July 1, 2014 Mark Schlissel becomes University of Michigan's 14th president and will serve until January 15, 2022.
    May 6, 2015 ORSP rolls out new website including a new modern look, functionality, a new lifecycle logo, and content management.  
    July 1, 2015 Craig Reynolds is named Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.
    2016  S. Jack Hu is appointed as the Vice President for Research for two years. 
    August 20, 2018  Debut of Award Management functionality in eRPM.
    November 2, 2018 S. Jack Hu's is re-appointed for three years as Vice President for Research.
    November 2, 2018 Daryl Weinert, Associate Vice President for Research, Business Operations departs from U-M and moves to Carnegie Mellon University.
    October 8, 2018 Daryl Weinert announces his leave of University of Michigan for Carnegie Mellon to serve as Chief of Staff to the President and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
    March 4, 2019 Jack Hu announces his departure for the University of Georgia as its next Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
    April 23, 2019 Rebecca Cunningham is named Interim Vice President for Research
    March 26, 2020 Rebecca Cunningham is named Vice President for Research
    April 8, 2020 Rebecca Cunningham outlines plans for dealing with the unprecedented COVID-19 Pandemic with continuing updates at:
    February 26, 2020 Rebecca Cunningham announces the promotion of Craig Reynolds to Assistant Vice President for Research-Sponsored Projects in the University of Michigan Office of Research.
    January 16, 2022 Former president Mary Sue Coleman is named interim president after the U-M Board of Regents remove Mark S. Schlissel as president of the university, citing an inappropriate relationship with a university employee.
    July 13, 2022 Regents appoint Santa Ono as U-M's next president. 
    September 30, 2022 Craig Reynolds steps down as Assistant Vice President for Research-Sponsored projects, moving on to Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    October 1, 2022 Andrea Anderson is named Acting Director from October 1, 2022, to April 9, 2023.
    October 14, 2022 Santa J. Ono, Ph.D., to begin a five-year term as the university’s 15th president.
    April 10, 2023 Shandra White is appointed Assistant Vice President for Research-Sponsored Projects.  White had most recently served as the assistant vice president for sponsored research at Northwestern University. White was also the director of sponsored projects and research enhancement at George Washington University.





    ORSP Interactive Timeline

    We share a few images and facts on this page. For our full story, visit our 100th Anniversary Interactive Timeline!