PEERD Experts

Michael Spires

Mr. Spires is an academically well‐rounded scholar, a published author and seasoned presenter, and an experienced reviewer. He has been working in research development full‐time for nearly 14 years, mentored by one of the thought leaders in the field. He has done extensive service to the profession, including multiple leadership positions within NORDP. He has been a mentor, both formally and informally, to a number of research development professionals in his career. Oakland University is the fourth institution where he has either established or helped to establish an RD function where none existed before: two emerging research institutions in different states, an R1 in a third state, and a major non‐profit research institution. His work has included both faculty‐centered and project‐centered positions, representing the two most common styles of RD currently practiced.

Past Experience

Mr. Spires’ research development career stretches back to the early days of the field, before NORDP was incorporated. He was the first RD professional at the Smithsonian Institution, where he supported all of SI’s museums and research centers. He has given nearly 50 workshops, seminars, presentations and short courses, on multiple topics, presented both individually and in teams. Data analysis is part and parcel of his daily responsibilities. He and his colleagues put together a databook of more than 200 pages to support Oakland University’s presidential leadership retreat in summer 2019, which focused on OU’s research mission and how to provide better support to researchers and scholars. Collecting and analyzing those materials also provided an opportunity to survey current best practices across the profession and how they are being implemented elsewhere. He also conducts assessments of research potential for faculty candidates brought to OU for interviews. These require close analysis of CVs and other supporting documents and of funding histories and trends at relevant sponsors, culminating in a written report provided to the search committee and administrative officials.

NORDP Involvement

Mr. Spires has been an active member of NORDP since 2011. In that time, he has served on and chaired multiple committees: Conference Committee (2012‐13, 2015‐18; conference chair, 2016‐17), Enhancing Collaboration Working Group (co‐chair/chair, 2014‐15), Executive Conference Committee (2016‐18), Nominating Committee (2015‐16), Certification Working Group (2015‐18 and 2020-present), and NORD Task Force (2015‐present). He served on the Board of Directors from 2014‐18, and as Secretary (2015‐16), Vice President/President‐Elect (2016‐17), and President (2017‐18). While on the Board, he also served on the Executive Committee (2015‐18) and the Governance Committee (2015‐present). He was the lead for the2015 revisions to the NORDP Bylaws, and also coordinated arrangements for the 2015 Board Leadership Retreat in Boulder, CO. Mr. Spires spearheaded the development of the first RD Fundamentals short course (presented as a full‐day workshop at the 10th Annual Research Development Conference in Arlington, VA, in 2018), and wrote much of the course material.


Mr. Spires has 3 Master’s degrees--M.A., University of Colorado Boulder (classics); M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign (library & information science); M.A., Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL (modern European history)—and a B.A. from Knox College (chemistry and classics). Before starting his position at the Smithsonian, he had completed all the required coursework for a Ph.D. in history from NIU.