Fostering research: Wallace receives MSU administrator award

May 20, 2018

Marcy Wallace has been recognized by Michigan State University for her outstanding efforts to advance the university’s research mission. The Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Award celebrates individuals for both their contributions and quality of their work.

Wallace, director of the Institute for Research on Teaching and Learning (IRTL) in the College of Education, has nearly 29 years of service with the university. Wallace helps facilitate faculty and student grant proposal submissions.

Marcy Wallace headshot

She is also a founding leader of and serves on the executive committee for SPROUT (Sponsored Program Research Opportunities & University Training) at MSU. SPROUT is comprised of individuals like Wallace who provide college-level research administration support across all colleges at MSU. The committee and the Essentials of Research Administration (ERA) training program, an initial yearlong series with annual topic refreshers for all research administrators on campus, were developed in 2002. Wallace and others at the university found that they were in a unique position in their colleges, but similar in types of services they provided.

“We asked: What is this research administrator job, what do we need to know to be effective and how do we make it better for everyone at the university?” Wallace said. “I am proud that what we envisioned in the early days happened due to the dedication and professionalism of research administrators across campus.”

That question has filtered into her everyday work, including advising a graduate assistant who is creating and providing tools for other graduate students on how to compete successfully for external funding for research.

Research and leadership

After earning her Ph.D. in 2005 in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy, Wallace taught a variety of courses, including a college-wide course on Approaches to Educational Research and a Kinesiology course on the responsible conduct of research.

The degree was a highlight of her career, but so too was the research associated with it. In one grant-funded project, she studied large-scale national and state data from other education colleges, examining how teacher preparation, characteristics and professional development impacted and linked through teacher practice to student achievement. In another, she considered math and science coursework from middle school through college, and questioned how course trajectories, as well as racial and gender disparities, predicted college majors and employment in math and science related careers, especially teaching.

Wallace has always been curious—”I find taking questions and searching for answers to be fulfilling,” she said. “There is a beauty and an art to research.”—and that has fueled her career in the college. In her nomination letter for the award, Associate Dean for Research Ann Austin mentioned how Wallace’s curiosity and compassion have made her an effective leader.

“Her leadership style combines commitment to vision and purpose, with respect, care and kindness for those who report to her and the faculty whose research work she supports and facilitates,” Austin wrote. “Given Marcy’s own research background in education policy research, faculty members know that they are supported by a colleague who understands the research process.”

Together in 2017-18, Austin and Wallace established two new programs in the college: the Pre-Tenure Scholars Program and the Post-Tenure Fellows Program. The aim is to help faculty at different crew stages deepen research skills, focus research trajectories explore available university research resources and discover pertinent grant possibilities.

Wallace, who will retire from MSU on June 30, 2018, and fellow MSU administrator Kathleen Mills from Center for Global Change and Earth Observations in MSU’s College of Social Science were recognized for their service to the university in April 2018.

The Unit Research Administrator Spotlight Awards are supported by Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA), the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and Contract and Grant Administration (CGA).

Related links

Learn more about the award and the recipients on MSU Today.