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Faculty and authorized professional staff at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) are encouraged to seek and obtain external financial support for research, scholarship, creative activities, training and instructional projects that further the mission of CMU. These sponsored projects serve to expand the educational opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students at CMU, support research activities, encourage scholarly inquiry and the development of new knowledge, and enhance the academic structure of CMU and its ability to fulfill its responsibilities to the State of Colorado and the nation.

Research at CMU includes explorations that lead to the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge, the development of new applications of existing knowledge, the development of new paradigms for teaching and learning, and/or the related creative activities in the fine arts.


Principal Investigator/Project Director (PI/PD): The Principal Investigator /Project Director (PI/PD) is the primary individual responsible for the preparation, conduct, and administration of a research grant, cooperative agreement, training or public service project, contract, or other sponsored project award.  The PI/PD is responsible for conducting the project in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and institutional policy governing the conduct of sponsored research.

CO-Principal Investor or CO-Project Director (COPI/COPD): COPIs/COPDs are key personnel who have responsibilities similar to that of a PI/PD on research projects. While the PI/PD has ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the project, the COPI/COPD is obligated to ensure that the project is conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and institutional policy governing the conduct of sponsored research.


The following University personnel may serve as a PI/PD on externally funded projects:

  • tenured and tenure-track faculty;
  • full-time non-tenure track faculty (instructors holding a .8 FTE appointment);
  • full-time Western Colorado Community College faculty;
  • emeritus faculty (on a case by case basis and approved by the Vice President of Academic Affairs);
  • visiting lecturers and adjunct faculty (on a case by case basis and approved by the Vice President of Academic Affairs);
  • professional and administrative staff holding at least a .5 FTE, including staff at Western Colorado Community College; and
  • other individuals associated with the University, who do not meet the criteria listed above may be
    assessed on a case by case basis and approved by the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Persons eligible for designation as a PI/PD are also eligible to be designated as COPIs/COPDs.

When a funding agency has restrictions on who may serve as PI/PD on a particular project or program that are more stringent than this policy, the sponsor’s requirements will take precedence over institutional policy for that particular project. In the case where a funding agency may require, allow or expect an individual to serve as a PI/PD who, under University policy would otherwise be ineligible, the individual will have their department head or a tenured faculty member in their department serve as a COPI/COPD.

Students may not be designated as a PI/PD.  When a funding agency’s program guidelines require the student to be listed as the PI/PD on the proposal application, the student’s faculty advisor/mentor shall be the PI/PD on record on University’s proposal certification form and be responsible to CMU for the conduct and oversight of the project.


The primary responsibilities for the origination, development, and preparation of proposals rests with the PI/PD.  All proposals must be germane to the interests and/or expertise of the PI/PD, be truthful and accurate in their content, and not contain plagiarized materials or research data that has been fabricated or falsified.  The PI/PD is responsible for compliance with all applicable University policies and procedures related to the research in question.  In addition, the PI/PD is responsible for ensuring compliance with all applicable federal, state, and agency regulations related to the project.


While awards for successful proposals are made to CMU, the PI/PD is responsible for, and held accountable for, the fiscal management, the laboratory/project management, technical execution, and completion of the project, including submission of all required reports to sponsors. 

To support the PI/PD in carrying out these responsibilities, the University provides administrative services and has established procedures to help meet both the funding agency and University administrative requirements.  Information, assistance, and support are provided to the PI/PD by the Office of Sponsored Programs.

Although CMU is legally responsible and accountable to the sponsoring agency for the performance of the activity funded and the proper use of funds, without the full cooperation and vigilance of the PI/PD the University cannot perform its stewardship role.  The responsibilities of the PI/PD include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Be knowledgeable, about funding agency, CMU, state, and federal guidelines and regulations relative to the conduct of research, training, and public service programs and be willing to adhere to such guidelines and regulations. Such regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:  Intellectual Property, Animal Care and Use, Human Subjects, Biosafety, Misconduct in Science, Data Retention, Time and Effort Reporting, Travel Authorization and Reimbursement, Responsible Conduct of Research, and Cost Transfers.
  2. Conduct the work supported by the funding agency in a timely and professional manner.
  3. Comply with the specific terms and conditions of each award as stated in the award documents and with all administrative requirements as set forth in all applicable CMU, state, and federal regulations.
  4. Assure that expenditures made prior to the receipt of a fully executed award are incurred only after obtaining specific authorized approval.
  5. Ensure that all costs charged to the award specifically benefit the project and are allowable per the terms and conditions of the award.
  6. Maintain budgetary control by reconciling the award budget and taking immediate action to resolve errors or discrepancies noted during the reconciliation and to follow up to ensure the errors are corrected. If an award is over-expended, or if an unauthorized expenditure is disallowed by the University, the funding agency, or auditors, the PI/PD is responsible for clearing the expenditure either through transferring the charge to another allowable university account or by personally reimbursing CMU.
  7. Ensure that all cost sharing and/or matching fund commitments set forth in the award are met and documented.
  8. Comply with the reporting requirements of each award which may include periodic technical progress reports, annual technical reports, reports of inventions, reports of publications generated, and financial reporting requirements. Although the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Controller or his/her designee is responsible for the preparation and submission of the financial report, the PI/PD must review and approve the financial report.
  9. Ensure that any subcontractors comply with the terms and conditions of each subcontract and with the reporting requirements passed down to them.
  10. Acknowledge sponsor funding in support of related publications and presentations.
  11. Keep and maintain on campus all research or programmatic records, including human subject consent forms, lab records, primary data, correspondence, notes, reports, samples, specimens, computer programs, and publications.
  12. Provide oversight of all persons working on the project, including visiting scientists, trainees, post docs, students, and other staff to ensure that they follow proper laboratory and research procedures, understand and comply with all applicable rules and regulations, and adhere to high ethical standards in carrying out the project.
  13. Keep and maintain on campus all research or programmatic records conducted or produced by themselves, their staff or students in the course of the grant or contract for the period required by the audit retention clause of the award.