Hearts and minds connect in service to Puerto Rico


Published: March 28, 2019

By Sally Crocker

RobynOne of Robyn Remotigue’s most prized possessions is a painting that highlights the word “service,” recently presented in thanks by a university colleague in Puerto Rico.

In the wake of 2017’s devastating strike of Hurricane Maria, residents have struggled to repair the damage and resume important community services. Schools, too, were hit hard.

So when a traveling team of board members and educators representing the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA) offered to bring free professional development workshops to the universities there who are still impacted by the disaster in many ways, it was a time of sharing information, offering support, extending goodwill and exchanging many heartfelt hugs.

“A warm embrace, even a kiss on the cheek, is a fairly common greeting in Puerto Rico, and as about 200 attendees arrived, we found ourselves welcomed in the most touching way,” Remotigue said.

A member of the board and traveling workshop faculty for NCURA and Director of Research Services for the UNTHSC School of Public Health, Remotigue has spent more than 20 years in the field of research administration and was eager to volunteer her time for this visit.

“Some of the attendees had traveled up to three hours to reach us, between mountains and on still damaged roads under construction. Many had never met their colleagues from other parts of the island, and they were so grateful that NCURA could bring everyone together in this way,” she said. “It was a very humbling experience.”

The workshop presenters themselves traveled close to an hour to reach the event location at Ana G. Méndez University, offering two days of information on critical research administration issues, as well as current hot topics of interest to the audience.

Attendees were fellow research administrators, faculty and university leaders from among Puerto Rico’s 58 local colleges and universities.

With a colleague from Auburn University, Remotigue presented on Research in Compliance, Subcontracts and the Importance of Sub-recipient Monitoring, Review and Negotiation of Agreements, and Research Award Management.

At a reception following, Ana G. Mendez University leader Dr. E. David Méndez Pagán presented NCURA’s team with very personal, meaningful gifts of thanks, created in his own studio.

An artist as well as educator whose works are displayed across the campus, he sent each lecturer home with a signed, numbered painting reflecting themes of service and continuing good friendship.

“Amid all the struggles that the island has faced since Hurricane Maria battered through, it was powerful to connect with our new friends and show support,” Remotigue said. “I feel very honored to have been a part of this effort.”