Experienced grants administrator brings innovative mindset, strong customer focus to high-volume Northwestern role
Northwestern has recruited Shandra White to serve as its executive director of Sponsored Research, the administrative unit responsible for supporting University investigators in proposing and managing sponsored research funding. She will begin her tenure effective October 1, reporting to Associate Vice President for Research Rex Chisholm within the Office for Research.
White brings nearly 20 years of experience in university research administration, with most of her professional efforts focused on managing a diverse array of federal and private grants and contracts. Since 2011, she has served in the Office of the Vice President for Research at George Washington University (GWU), including as director of research enhancement and director of sponsored projects, overseeing a team of 40 staff members who support a varied and growing research enterprise of more than $245 million in annual sponsored expenditures. At GWU, White has been credited with developing and implementing an intensive 18-month training program that enhanced her team’s effectiveness and provided improved customer service to university researchers. She also spearheaded structural changes that streamlined processes and better aligned resources to strengthen performance, while working to create an inclusive, respectful office culture.
“We are very pleased to welcome Shandra to Northwestern,” said Chisholm. “Her leadership, experience, and relationships within the sponsored research world make her a valuable asset for the University. In particular, we see her providing significant benefits for Northwestern researchers by bringing an innovative mindset and a collaborative, ‘service-first’ approach to the team here. In doing so, Shandra will support our strategic efforts to create additional administrative efficiencies within our thriving research ecosystem.”
White joins the University at a time of sustained, vigorous research growth: over the last fiscal year, annual sponsored funding rose to a record high of nearly $800 million, increasing 13.6 percent from the previous year. Since 2009, this funding has risen 67 percent, even as federal funding has grown more competitive. White joins a Sponsored Research team at Northwestern that, over the past fiscal year alone, has reviewed and submitted more than 3,500 proposals totaling some $3.4 billion and executed more than 4,400 contracts, in addition to setting up more than 3,000 awards to enable the new record-setting research funding total.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Northwestern research team, especially at this time, when so much great research across all disciplines is taking place here,” said White. “I’m passionate about building an effective, efficient, and collaborative environment and working alongside colleagues to provide researchers with exemplary service that furthers their transformative science and scholarship. At Northwestern, that research portfolio is truly rich, and includes a remarkable clinical-trial space that also excites me.”
White is a graduate of Virginia’s Regent University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration on human resources management. In addition to her leadership roles at GWU, she previously worked as a grants administrator and senior financial services manager within the Office of Sponsored Programs at George Mason University. Her professional experience includes extensive mentorship and team building. She also has advised university leadership on best practices and recommendations on all aspects of managing research funding in a diverse portfolio, including schools of medicine, public health, engineering, law, international affairs, and the arts and sciences.