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Outstanding Leader Bridges Grants and Research

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Paulina Tagle is always interested in what researchers are doing. It’s an important component of what she does as director of the Office of Grants and Contracts, a business office that processes around 300 grant proposals and contracts each year.

“I love what I do,” she explains while sitting in a sunny, bright office located in Titan Hall. With only four other staff members, it’s a busy office but they work well together. “I work with an amazing team.”

In recognition of her efforts to motivate and lead the people she works with, for creating and sharing a strategic vision of the future and myriad other responsibilities and tasks that exemplify a leader, Tagle was honored April 19 as Cal State Fullerton’s 2018 recipient of the Leadership Award.

“Her office is in charge of the pre-award phase representing the beginning of the grant lifecycle, which includes processing limited fund/grant opportunities, submitting proposal applications and negotiating with award sponsors on behalf of CSUF,” explains Chris Liu, associate vice president for research and sponsored projects, who nominated Tagle for the universitywide award.

“In recent years, following the university’s strategic plan of growing grant revenue, her office has taken new initiatives to streamline process time and provide the best service for the faculty,” adds Liu.

“From fiscal year 2014-15 to 2016-17, CSUF external grant revenue grew around 25 percent (from $21 million to $26 million). For the first six months of the current fiscal year, our external grant revenue has already reached more than 80 percent of that achieved in 2016-17,” Liu says with pride.

And yet, there is no frenzy in the small office. There’s a sense of calm. “One of the things I have learned — and share — is that we should focus on what we can do. We work in a deadline-driven environment and emotions may sometimes run high; we must try not to take things personally,” says Tagle, who has served the campus for 13 years.  

Liu also notes Tagle’s willingness to share responsibility, authority and particularly information, her ability to communicate well and to make members of her team comfortable in exchanging ideas and reaching a common goal.

These are traits she has used working with her counterparts within the CSU, as well as with other units on campus. “Last year, she led a committee to streamline the process involving external grant applications to private foundations … which may be a challenging situation at times,” says Liu. “Her team got the job done within a month!”

“Our role is to assist faculty members and administrators, to make sure they qualify for the grants they are seeking, that their applications are all properly completed, and that they meet all the legal and compliance requirements,” Tagle says. “We feel that we’re part of these awards. We’re excited to hear what our investigators are doing and take pride in being able to help them receive the funding that moves their research and creative activities forward.”