Trying to find a ‘yes’ answer in a ‘no’ world is how Kathie Veach describes her job as a coordinator of grants and contracts in the Center for Prevention Research and Development. A certified research administrator, Veach helps researchers find funding for their projects and administers awards once they are obtained. Veach started her career at the UI as an account technician I in the department of nuclear engineering in 1993, then joined the department of computer science in 1996 as an account technician II. After a mentor encouraged Veach to further her education beyond the associate’s degree in computer science that she had earned at Southern Illinois University, Veach earned her bachelor’s degree from the Board of Governors program at Eastern Illinois University. She has worked for the CPRD, part of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, since last May.
What does the Center for Prevention Research and Development do?
The center’s mission is to improve systems and programs that serve communities, school reform, after-school programs and family life, especially in disadvantaged communities. We collect a lot of data and conduct a lot of surveys. One program we administer is the Carol White Physical Education program, a federal grant program that aims to improve or expand physical education and after-school programs for sixth through 12th grade. The center has about 35 employees and three divisions: child and family ecology, school reform and innovation, and state and community systems.
What do you do each day?
The business office is the less glamorous side of research, and I sometimes refer to us as the Internal Revenue Service of research. We look for funding and help researchers apply for it. Once it’s awarded, we review statements to make sure researchers’ spending is timely and appropriate. Each award has its own rules. You have to be a detail-oriented person.
What’s involved in becoming a certified research administrator?
The first requirement is an academic degree combined with three to eight years of experience in research administration. Candidates take a four-hour exam encompassing the research administration “body of knowledge,” which includes project development and administration, legal requirements and financial management practices.
What is the most challenging and most rewarding part of what you do?
Explaining to people why they need to do what I’m asking them to do. And my favorite part is when an award comes in on a proposal that I’ve helped submit.
What do you enjoy doing away from work?
I like to make quilts, especially by machine appliqué. I make them for myself and as gifts and have given four or five away. I also like to cross-stitch. I read a lot of books, especially light fiction such as Janet Evanovich and J.D. Robb.
My husband is a fifth-generation bricklayer, and members of his family have worked on many of the buildings on campus, such as the Digital Computer Laboratory and Memorial Stadium. It’s fun to walk around campus and see all of the buildings that his family had a part in constructing. On one of our first dates, my husband, Frank, took me on a tour of the Illini Union and showed me all the fireplaces that one of his grandfathers had constructed.
We met through a mutual friend and decided that we weren’t going to get serious about each other, and we’ve been married for 15 years. We participate in historical re-enactment events together, portraying 1740s Illinois, which was the period during the French and Indian War. We travel throughout the state and meet lots of interesting people.