Research administration vice president to leave U

by Bei Hu

A.R. “Tony” Potami, whose name is almost synonymous with research administration, will leave the University on Aug. 15 to head the William C. Norris Institute.
“It’s an opportune time for me to try something new,” Potami said, because the University’s research grant management is stable and well organized.
Potami, 53, has been associate vice president for the Office of Research and Technology Transfer Administration since 1990. In September, he will become the first president and chief executive officer of the Norris institute, a Bloomington-based nonprofit organization that takes technology developed by universities and individuals and makes it available to businesses.
“The University of Minnesota has been a very important part of my life,” Potami said. He called his departure from the University “the most difficult decision I’ve faced in my professional career.”
He added that he fully intends to work closely with the University to develop joint programs in the future.
The National Institutes of Health officials put the University on a probationary status in August, 1995 because they were concerned about grant management at the school. The Office of Research and Transfer Administration was responsible for administering most of the grants, and Potami helped NIH officials investigate grant administration at the school.
Winifred Schumi, an assistant director of information services at the office, said it will take time to find a replacement for Potami because he has been involved in its operations for so long.
Potami has directed the office since its creation in 1983. He also headed the Office of Research Administration between 1974 and 1983, before it’s name was changed to the current title. Both offices were designed to help University researchers get external funding from federal and state governments, nonprofit foundations and private companies.
The funding awards processed by the grant administration offices grew from $36 million to $347.7 million between fiscal years 1975 and 1996. The transfer administration office has also helped the University get 3,400 patents since 1983.
William Norris, former Control Data Corporation chairman and founder of the institute, praised Potami for his unique experience, which includes strong relationship with the University and acquaintance with business and education circles throughout the state.
“I don’t know anyone who knows the elements of technology transfer better than he does,” Norris said.
The institute has been working with the University’s College of Education, Institute of Technology and individual faculty members.
The University has appointed Edward Wink, senior administrative director of laboratory medicine and pathology, as interim director of the transfer administration office.