Purdue Profiles: Scott Levans

November 12, 2014  

Scott Levans

Scott Levans, contract analyst in Sponsored Program Services. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
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To Scott Levans, creating contracts between outside entities and individuals and groups affiliated with Purdue is like putting together puzzles -- often challenging but, when complete, always rewarding.

Levans is a contract analyst in Sponsored Program Services. The contracts he processes involve everything from academic programs to student organizations to patient privacy to data use and more. Levans strives to make sure that each contract is as mutually beneficial as possible to Purdue and its partners.

What is your group's role at the University?

My group, Sponsored Program Services Contracting, falls underneath the larger umbrella of Sponsored Program Services, or SPS. SPS offers pre-award services, which assist faculty and staff in submitting funding proposals, and post-award services, which assist in the administration of externally funded projects and programs. Contracting fits in the middle of that process -- we review proposals sent to sponsors, draft agreements between sponsors and faculty and staff, and negotiate the terms of all such agreements and contracts.

Purdue has seven full-time contract analysts. Four of my colleagues work on contracts related to industry and foundations, one focuses on agreements with federal entities and one focuses on subcontracts and contracts with state entities. I process miscellaneous contracts, which means that I work with anything that doesn't fall into the categories I just described.

What are some examples of contracts and agreements you process?

Many of the contracts I work on are student-driven. For example, I work with academic programs and businesses to create contracts that allow students to complete specific internships as part of their majors. Many academic colleges, schools and programs have such agreements in place, including Nursing, Nutrition Science, Pharmacy and many others. I work with Krannert School of Management to create contracts through which graduate students get real-world experience as required by their degree programs.

I also work with a lot of student organizations to create contracts related to their relationships with outside entities. For example, if a local business wants to donate gear to the Purdue Electric Racing team, I'll draw up the agreement that makes everything official. My work also involves study abroad programs. When Purdue partners with another university abroad, I create the agreements through which our students attend their institution and their students attend Purdue. Similarly, I work on agreements that involve visiting scholars and scientists.

All of these types of contracts are just some of the things I work on -- other contracts I handle involve things as varied as the Purdue Technical Assistance Program's consulting agreements, health care and patient privacy concerns, and data use.

What are some challenges of your position?

Beyond the sheer variety of the contracts I handle, there are some key considerations that can be challenging. One thing I always keep in mind when creating contracts is the importance of managing Purdue's risks. Oftentimes, prewritten agreements come to us that aren't as beneficial for Purdue as they could be, so it's my job to work on the University's behalf.

There are so many considerations involved in each contract that often it's really like a puzzle. It can be fun to come up with creative solutions so that each puzzle fits together in a way that's as mutually beneficial as possible.

What are some differences between your group and Procurement Services?

Essentially, if it involves money coming into the University, SPS Contracting handles it. If it involves money used to procure goods and services for Purdue, Procurement Services handles it. Occasionally, when a relationship between a Purdue entity and an outside entity is complex enough to involve both functions, we work with Procurement Services to decide the best approach.

In SPS Contracting, we handle a large volume of agreements and contracts. In fact, that number has increased since I began my job in SPS in February 2012. In 2013, we processed 3,900 contracts and agreements, which is the most we've ever done.

This year, just in September, we processed 426. We're on track to easily surpass last year's total. That trend is a great thing for Purdue -- it means that more money and more projects are flooding into the University. It's a testament to the quality and work ethics of our faculty, staff and students.

Writer: Amanda Hamon Kunz, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu 

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