Office of Sponsored Programs

Procedure  |  Contract and Grant Responsibilities

Forms for approving proposals for submission to funding agencies, as well as activations for authorizing the Grants Accountant to assign an account number, have occasionally been signed by non-permanent, full-time persons. Past history has demonstrated the need for permanent, full-time staff to have the overall responsibility for proposals and funded projects. In view of this, the following policy is to be followed.

Any individual who holds a full-time position, such as tenured, tenure track, non-tenure track research, director of a state designated Center or University Center may serve as a Principal Investigator (PI)/Project Director for sponsored activities, and be responsible for a contract or grant. In addition, an individual who holds the position of Lecturer, Instructor, Adjunct/Affiliate, Emeritus, or part-time faculty (50% appointment) may serve as a PI/Project Director for sponsored activities if he or she receives the approval of his or her chair and dean as shown by their signatures on the Proposal Endorsement Form  and a tenured or tenure-track research faculty or director is named as co-investigator on the project.

Post-Doctoral Fellows who have the approval of the Department and Dean of the relevant College or School as indicated by signature of the individual named in the Proposal Endorsement Form may serve as PIs.  Undergraduate and graduate students may not be designated as PIs.  When a Sponsor's program guidelines require the student to be listed as PI on the proposal application, the student's mentor/advisor shall be the PI on the Proposal Endorsement Form and responsible for the conduct and oversight of the project. 

The forms used to propose and to activate a project and any expenditure document (including an IDT) are to contain the signature of the project's permanent, full-time faculty or professional staff member. Any requests to the funding agency must be initiated by the project's permanent, full-time faculty or professional staff member and must be processed through Research & Economic Development.

* Personnel categories for research proposals (reproduced from the NSF Grant Proposal Guide, Exhibit II-7).

1.  Senior Personnel

  • (co) Principal Investigator(s) -- the individual(s) designated by the grantee and approved by NSF who will be responsible for the scientific or technical direction of the project. If more than one, the first one listed will have primary responsibility for the project and the submission of reports.
  • Faculty Associate (faculty member) -- an individual other than the Principal Investigator(s) considered by the performing institution to be a member of its faculty or who holds an appointment as a faculty member at another institution, and who will participate in the project being supported.

2.  Other Personnel

  • Postdoctoral Associate -- an individual who received a Ph.D., M.D., D.Sc. or equivalent degree less than five years ago, who is not a member of the faculty at the performing institution, and who is not reported under Senior Personnel above.
  • Other Professional -- a person who may or may not hold a doctoral degree or its equivalent, who is considered a professional and is not reported as a Principal Investigator, faculty associate, postdoctoral associate or student. Examples of persons included in this category are doctoral associates not reported under B1, professional technicians, physicians, veterinarians, system experts, computer programmers and design engineers.
  • Graduate Student (research assistant) -- a part-time or full-time student working on the project in a research capacity who holds at least a bachelor's degree and is enrolled in a degree program leading to an advanced degree.
  • Undergraduate Student -- a student who is enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a bachelor's or associate's degree.
  • These categories include persons working on the project in a non-research capacity, such as secretaries, clerk-typists, draftsmen, animal caretakers, electricians and custodial personnel regardless of whether they hold a degree or are involved in degree work.


Updated January 8, 2020

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