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Women's history month

Research administrator manages change

This is the fifth in a series of articles honoring MUSC women who have changed the face, landscape and direction of MUSC and the medical center. This year's theme is Women Taking the Lead.

by Cindy Abole
Public Relations
Grants and Contracts Accounting director Velma Stamp’s world is marked by rules, regulations and change. Through it all, she’s managed to collaborate with other specialists to make improvements and streamline systems.
Grants and Contracts Accounting director Velma Stamp.

Stamp manages the reporting on more than $200 million of MUSC’s sponsored research grants and contracts. She also administers 2,000-plus active projects while ensuring that the university stays in compliance with numerous federal guidelines and regulations. She also leads a staff of 20 trained grants administrators, auditors and other specialists who provide guidance and support to the campus’ research community and department admini-strators.
“You can’t be a good leader without enjoying what you do,” said Stamp. “I enjoy my work and that makes leadership easier. It allows me to focus on other areas from understanding structure within an academic medical center, management and supporting staff in their needs.”
But Stamp didn’t intentionally choose her career path. Throughout her career, she’s had the right mix of support, guidance and opportunity that has turned a job into a challenging and rewarding profession within the research administration field.
Originally from Charleston, Stamp grew up not far from where she was destined to spend her mid-career years. She attended the High School of Charleston, now home to the College of Health Professions, and just a block from MUSC’s main campus.
A good student, Stamp graduated in 1979 with a degree in accounting from South Carolina State University. She cut her teeth as a government auditor with the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) in Washington D.C. There she worked for the Department of Defense auditing contracts and subcontracts awarded to private industry. It wasn’t long before Stamp realized that her work and position were a good fit. As one of only a handful of female auditors working in her area at DCAA, Stamp rose quickly through the ranks becoming senior auditor and holding other management positions within her 17-year career. In 1989, she relocated to Atlanta and became senior auditor at Georgia Tech auditing several millions of dollars worth of federal grants and contracts connected with the institution.
She came to MUSC in 1997 and learned to work on the opposite side of the table, changing her mindset from a rules-driven auditor to a service-oriented grants administrator. It was at this time that she was  considering and working toward management at the next level. To do this, she needed to acquire other skills and training. She sought the guidance of campus mentors, Lisa Montgomery, vice president for finance and administration,  and Deborah Deas, M.D., senior associate dean for strategic diversity initiatives, College of Medicine (COM) and professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
“I have truly enjoyed working with Velma. She is a person of strong character and integrity, which are important attributes in the position she holds. Velma is a very talented leader and is well respected by her staff and colleagues across campus. I’m incredibly proud of her and all that she has accomplished,” said Montgomery.
In 2007, she was named to succeed David Welch as Finance & Admini-stration’s Grants and Contracts Accounting director after his retirement. She worked hard to streamline operations to improve customer service, provide education programs and training to ensure compliance and other support.  She recently played a vital pivotal role in  negotiating an increase in the university’s Facilities and Administrative Rate with the federal government in the recovery of indirect costs required to support sponsored awards and continually manages the annual A-133 audit of federal grants and contracts required by the federal government.
Stamp led a major reorganization of their unit’s departmental structure by creating new sections to prepare entry-level staff and hired managers in other specialty areas. In the area of support, she organized teams of three grants administrators to assist customers/departments and expects further changes with the future realignment of COM’s structure.
In addition to COM's realignment, they are currently focused on recent funding opportunities offered through President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Recovery Act allocated about $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health to award grants to institutions  for biomedical/behavioral and clinical research facilities. These restricted, two-year grants will require increased reporting requirements and activities that will be managed by the Grants and Contracts Accounting staff.
As a leader, she is supportive to staff in their professional needs. She’s also a role model and mentor to black students and others in the community, some of whom worked as summer interns in the Grants and Contracts Accounting office.


Friday, March 27, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.