Contract Specialist - Institutional Awards / Research Administrative Services

Updated: about 1 year ago
Deadline: 08 May 2023

This position is a part of the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA).

This position offers a comprehensive benefits package which can be viewed at: Faculty & Staff Benefits .

Working for the University of Alberta 

The University of Alberta acknowledges that we are located on Treaty 6 territory, and respects the histories, languages and cultures of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and all First Peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our vibrant community.

The University of Alberta is teeming with change makers, community builders, and world shapers who lead with purpose each and every day. We are home to more than 40,000 students in 200+ undergraduate and 500+ graduate programs, over 13,000 faculty and staff, 260,000 alumni worldwide and have been recognized as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for over a decade.

Your work will have a meaningful influence on a fascinating cross section of people—from our students and stakeholders, to our renowned researchers and innovators who are quite literally curing diseases, making discoveries and generating solutions that make the world healthier, safer, stronger, and more just.

Position summary

The Contract Specialist specific to the Institutional Portfolio is responsible for independently negotiating and processing a high volume of complex and specialized research funding applications, agreements and awards. Critical to the performance of the job functions are the ability to review and interpret policies, procedures and sponsor terms and conditions and to apply these policies and procedures in the administration and processing of research applications, awards, and agreements. Key aspects of the job include the ability to analyze and problem solve.

Reporting to the Senior Finance Analyst this position will work independently to analyze, interpret, negotiate and process the applications, awards, and agreements assigned while brain-storming, consulting and interacting with co-workers, supervisor, the Associate Director and others as required to finalize the release of research funding. The Contracts Specialist will work collegially with all members of Research Services Office (RSO) to ensure that collectively all applications and awards are processed in a timely and effective manner while providing high-quality service to their clients.

This position is responsible for using professional judgment to ensure that University guidelines and solid financial, legal and contractual practices are applied at all times in the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) application program delivery and application development, negotiating agreements and award management for the life of the project as well as other programs/projects as assigned.

This position will liaise and provide support to outside agencies, central units and RSO staff.  The position will also be expected to provide advice and guidance to department administrators and researchers.

This position requires a highly motivated and organized self-starter and must be able to work independently and in a team environment.


Application development, Negotiating and Processing of Agreements/Awards

  • Develops and delivers programmatic training and process for upcoming institutional calls for proposals
  • Negotiates, reviews, drafts and approves research applications/agreements/awards on behalf of the university
  • Ensures negotiations balance the legitimate needs of sponsors with researcher interests and University principles
  • Ensures all required collaborating agreements for a research project are in place and the terms and conditions are consistent; ensures that requirements of government-funded programs are met
  • Ensures all proposed sub-grants and sub-contracts are identified and completed
  • Authorizes the release of funding once University and sponsor terms and conditions have been met
  • Consults with Facilities and Operations on space enhancement budgets, scopes of work and timelines
  • Consults with Technology Transfer Services on intellectual property obligations, licensing clauses and other issues that impact technology transfer and the commercialization of research
  • Consults with Risk Management and Legal Counsel where sponsor compliance with University policies and procedures is at risk
  • Collaborates with others in the proposals, contracts/agreements to ensure compliance with University and sponsor policies and procedures, including human ethics, animal care and biohazards
  • Reviews proposed budgets for completeness and accuracy, advising applicants on errors, discrepancies and sponsor policies; ensures budgets are identified for collaborators and co-applicants
  • Identifies and confirms university cash and in-kind commitments to the proposed project
  • Reviews existing funding agreements to ensure the terms and conditions are consistent with the applicable funding program and meet the eligibility requirements
  • Collaborates with researchers and faculty-based research staff on innovative ways to address funding challenges presented by particular programs and situations, liaising with others to solve agreements and management issues
  • Works collaboratively with researchers to ensure timely submissions of grant and contract proposals
  • Liaises with sponsors on grant and contract administration issues
  • Communicates information on individual agreements/awards to researchers and administrators
  • Coordinates the preparation of research proposals and contracts, including working with sponsored projects offices and researchers at other institutions
  • Provides guidance and professional support in all aspects of research administration related to negotiation and finalizing of agreements
  • Approves grant applications on behalf of the institution valued at up to and including $2,000,000 total project cost
  • Approves agreements on behalf of the institution valued at up to and including $1,000,000 total award amount

Information Management

  • Ensures that all critical documents are in place that define terms and conditions of research agreement/award including government related documentation. Required documentation includes scope of work, budget, required University signatures, and declarations on certifications
  • Approves and authorizes the creation of projects in PeopleSoft for funding resulting from research agreements that comply with University and sponsor policies and procedures and recommends to the Assistant Director that terms and conditions are correct prior to award generation
  • Ensures that indirect costs are captured, invoicing criteria, reporting obligations and handling of unspent funds are provided for in research agreements
  • Develops and maintains a high level of expertiseon the principles of research funding administration as well as University and sponsor policies and procedures
  • Ensures that agreement documentation is entered and managed appropriately in database and paper filing systems (e.g., sponsor deadlines, guidelines and procedures, conditions and obligations of acceptance of funding, application and award documents)
  • Contributes to development of policy and procedure manuals and other information tools to ensure the accountable administration of research funding agreements/awards
  • Participates in workshops to assist researchers with research administration
  • Investigates potential funding opportunities and provides information
  • Arrives at innovative solutions and resolutions in situations where rules and regulations continue to be redefined


  • Undergraduate degree; graduate degree preferred; a combination of post-secondary training and experience will be considered
  • Minimum 5 years’ research administration work experience, preferably in a post-secondary environment
  • Excellent budgetary and demonstrated extensive knowledge of MS Excel skills and understanding
  • Excellent negotiating skills
  • Interpreting and applying policies and procedures
  • Strong proficiency in Windows using Microsoft Office (Word, Excel), Google Apps, Internet and databases; required.
  • Proficient understanding and training in PeopleSoft application and tools are desirable
  • Strong analytic and communication skills (listening, verbal, written)
  • Skilled in multi-tasking and prioritizing multiple demands; keen attention to detail
  • Strong time management and work flow skills and the ability to manage a high volume of files with conflicting priorities
  • An understanding of the University’s policies and procedures with respect to research administration is an asset
  • A thorough understanding of the principles of service excellence and a demonstrated ability to deliver superior customer service to clients
  • Excellent interpersonal skills

Note: Online applications are accepted until midnight Mountain Standard Time of the closing date.

We thank all applicants for their interest; however, only those individuals selected for an interview will be contacted.

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