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Michael Hastings Named Director of UMaine Grants Office

Contact: Nick Houtman, 207-581-3777, houtman@maine.edu

ORONO, Maine — Michael M. Hastings, a resident of Hampden and a former congressional staff member for Maine senators William Cohen and George Mitchell, has been appointed as the director of the University of Maine Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP). Most recently, Hastings was the director of the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center located on the UMaine campus.

In his new role, he will have responsibility for ten staff members who work with UMaine scientists on grant proposals and ensure that research activities comply with federal and state reporting requirements. The ORSP also helps to identify potential sources of new research funding, including government agencies and private foundations.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2004, UMaine received $56.7 million in grants and contracts, its largest annual amount ever. All of the increase over the previous year’s funding came from federal sources.

To continue that growth, Hastings wants to identify new sources of research support and to make sure that officials who manage those funds are aware of UMaine’s expertise. “All federal funding for research came about as a result of legislation,” he explains, “and we need to work more closely with program officers at the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and other agencies.”

In turn, scientists need to be aware of agency priorities and pending research topics before formal requests for proposals (RFPs) are published, Hastings adds. “When an RFP is published, we should already have something ready to go. The RFP should not be our first look at a program area.”

Hastings credits increasing staff productivity for keeping the number of ORSP employees stable in recent years, despite increases in research funding. “I’d like to use computer technologies further to free up staff time to help faculty with research grants and to focus on sectors such as biotechnology, defense, health and other areas,” he says.

In addition to his experience with aquaculture and federal policy, Hastings managed activities for Catholic Relief Services in Africa between 1984 and 1991. In that capacity, he arranged for food shipments to Sudan and Liberia to help people affected by civil strife.

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