URICA’s Boes Named Employee of Year

Advancing the mission of interdisciplinary research centers and institutes, Boes has overseen immense growth in sponsored awards

Joe Boes, senior director of University Research Centers and Institutes (URICs) administration and operation, has been named Northwestern’s Employee of the Year.

Boes was recognized alongside six other finalists and presented the honor by Northwestern President Morton Schapiro during an event in Evanston on June 4.

“The moment my name was called I was in disbelief,” says Boes. “One of the most meaningful parts about the Employee of the Year honor is how the selection comes to be.  My accomplishments motivated the submission of a nomination, and that nomination detailed achievements that the selection committee chose from among all the other incredible finalists.”

Boes has worked at Northwestern since 2007 and has held various positions in research and financial administration. Prior to joining Northwestern Research in 2017, he was the associate director of research administration in the Feinberg School of Medicine Basic Sciences Administration office. As senior director of URICs administration and operation, Boes provides strategic administrative leadership and oversight of all aspects of research administration, financial, and personnel operations for Northwestern’s nearly 50 URICs. These institutes and centers bring together talent and ideas from across the University to spur creative collaboration at the intersection of fields.

Through the start of June, URIC research proposals have risen to $291 million this fiscal year, a 56-percent increase over last fiscal year and a 117-percent increase over 2017. In the first nine months of FY19, awards have risen 25 percent, to more than $40 million.

“The preeminent and incredibly ambitious faculty we support are setting the stage for explosive growth, with a proposal volume that has already exceeded last year’s total submissions,” says Boes, adding that the volume has doubled over the past three years. “I am so incredibly proud of the URICA team who has supported this expansion and thrived amidst the challenges that accompany growth and a budget transformation that greatly increased the scope of our work.”

Over the past 18 months, Boes and his staff — business administrator Alexandra Manetas and senior research administrators Brittany Patrick and Frank Cutting — have implemented significant changes to enhance faculty support, including an overhaul of the Annual Report process to improve efficiency and metrics-driven strategy; aligning the centralized research administrative team for URICs; and enhancing the URIC community by connecting peers and sharing best practices.

“Joe really encapsulates a lead-by-example attitude and his work ethic is astounding and inspiring — he is constantly creating new processes and metrics that help streamline the URIC world and supports our senior research administrators with the grant proposal process,” says Manetas. “He always has time for his team and will listen to our ideas, give suggestions and support, and empathize with our frustrations. To be able to do what he does while also being transparent, patient, understanding, and positive makes him one of the best managers I’ve ever worked with.” 

“Those who know me well know that I never stop thinking about the next opportunity and possibility to make things better,” Boes says.

His team is working to implement numerous initiatives, including one to increase autonomy and efficiency of URIC staff by developing fundamental resources and improving resource dissemination with the aim of better empowering staff at all levels to maximize their impact and grow professionally. Another initiative would establish an integrated and efficient system for URIC business management that will provide an on-demand overview of the most critical URIC information, presented in a flexible format that can meet the needs of key stakeholders, including University leadership, faculty directors of individual URICs, and administrators overseeing operations.

Since 1978, Northwestern’s Office of Human Resources has annually recognized employees who go “above and beyond” their normal duties and are “dedicated and effective.” Boes is the 75th employee to have received the award. He joins past Northwestern Research winners Chad Goeser (Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center, 2018), Eric Betzold (Institute for Policy Research, 2017), and Kathleen Cook (International Institute for Nanotechnology, 2013).

By Roger AndersonJune 14, 2019
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