Brown, Howell named UL System Content Experts

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Tracy Brown, left, and Carla Howell.

NATCHITOCHES –  Northwestern State University Chief Technology Officer Tracy Brown and Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs Carla Howell have been selected to serve as a University of Louisiana System Content Expert for the next year.

The UL System is seeking to draw on the intellectual capital of its faculty and staff by creating a network of content experts to provide support in the areas that align with its strategic framework. The goal is that the network will grow and provide the best support possible to those who are focused on student success and diminishing the achievement gap.

The content expert areas will be mental health, online teaching and learning, financial aid, grant writing/research resources and information technology. Brown will be a content expert in information technology. Howell will be a content expert in grant writing/research resources.

Howell will design and implement system-wide workshops and programming to improve grant writing skills; develop crowd-sourced resource and grant opportunities lists and identify state/federal/community resources that can be used by faculty, staff and students to apply for grants and other initiatives focused on best practices.

Brown will be expected to arrange virtual meetings to address technology frequently asked questions and innovations; pull together IT professionals from within the UL System together to discuss topics of interest; develop programming to disseminate technology information and identify and develop resources that will benefit faculty, staff and students.

Brown has nearly three decades of experience in educational technology. He previously held the positions of deputy chief information officer and associate director of technical services at NSU. Brown also served was a network administrator for the Sabine Parish School Board and worked for the Natchitoches Parish Library as the automation and user support specialist.

In his role as CTO, he supervises technology resources, evaluates technology and develops partnerships with key stakeholders, both within and outside the university. Other areas include project development, organizational workflow and student satisfaction and success. Brown says his objective is to apply his knowledge and directly impact any project and maximize the limited resources that are available.

Brown is an active participant in the LONI community and is a co-chair of the Network Technical Advisory Group, which serves in an advisement capacity to the LONI Management Council. He is a member of the Council of Information Services Directors (CISD) and was the 2019 chair of the LONI Summit Planning Committee. He is also a member of the Natchitoches Parish Library Board of Control. Brown regular consults with sister institutions to provide guidance, insights and recommendations.

Howell joined the NSU staff in 1991 and has held positions in research and sponsored programs within the University of Louisiana System for 28 years. She received a B.S. in accounting with a minor in business administration from NSU in 1996. As director of the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), Howell is responsible for the overall management of pre-award grant and contract administration. She is tasked with increasing and sustaining successful grant and contracts activity by working with faculty and staff in researching and identifying prospective resource opportunities at the federal, state, local and private funding levels.

Since joining the Office of Sponsored Programs in November 2002, she has been involved with the submission of over 1,250 proposals exceeding a request of $209 million and the acceptance of over 927 awards bringing in $128 million.

In 2006, Howell was designated as a certified research administrator by the Research Administrators Certification Council and continues to maintain recertification by demonstrating ongoing participation, continuing education activities and providing annual CRA exam questions. She has been a member of the National Council of University Research Administrators, Society of Research Administrators, Council for Resource Development, Council on Undergraduate Research and National Association of College and University Business Officers as well as various NSU councils and committees.

During these recent and unprecedented times, the U.S. Department of Education’s CARES Act funding was announced to help universities operate under COVID-19 uncertainties. NSU was one of the first ULS institutions to submit and receive all available funding. As the NSU grants.gov delegate, Howell was called upon by three system schools to mentor and assist with the CARES Act’s perplexing and daunting guidelines. She continues to maintain relationships and communicates with her cohorts to share informational announcements, troubleshoot concerns, and discuss collaborative opportunities. Howell performs all electronic research administration system activities such as user account creation, modification, updating institutional information, and other electronic research administration duties representing the university. This includes managing all the various grant submission processes to federal, state, local and private agencies as the centralized office on campus.