Meeting 3: May 7, 2014

Issue remaining from April 29, 2014 agenda that were not discussed, Program Websites for Admissions. At present information about admission criteria exists in multiple places (Mizzou Online, some program web sites, graduate school site, graduate catalog). Ideally there should be one site for admissions criteria (possibly a template) that is obvious for perspective students; all other possible site locations can link to this one site eliminating multiple contradictory or confusing sites and making it necessary to only manage one site.

Challenges are that many programs do not have their own web sites. A task force working on the Graduate Catalog last year discovered that some programs do not have their own site and rely on the Graduate Catalog or graduate web site. Can Graduate Studies help them with web site development??

Funding

The Chancellors directions to the task force suggested funding for graduate students might be best in a central location like the Office of Graduate Studies. However, it is important the task force members understand the funding options, policies and budget as part of the overall mission of evaluating the graduate school inventory of functions. Personnel resources are dedicated to managing student funding.

The task force was provided the budget of all GO funded and endowment funded fellowships administered by the graduate school. The graduate school has a balance of ~$2.5 million GO budgeted for graduate student fellowship support, and of this, ~$1.2 million is distributed annually to support students in a variety of academic programs. In addition, an endowment balance of ~$1.2 million provides an additional $800,000 in fellowship support annually.

Graduate Fellowships are administered primarily by Mannie Liscum with administrative and fiscal support from graduate school staff. Each year, the graduate school relies on evaluations and feedback from faculty who serve on the fellowship review committees (6 panel members on 5 panels). Contacts and DGS review and keep track of which students accept the fellowships and the acceptance model they elect. Fellowships are a 3-5 year commitment but GO and endowment income may vary from year to year requiring significant planning. These funds support a large number of students, approximately 200 applicants and awards per year depending on funds.

Recommendation:
Reaffirm that the office of graduate studies is the ideal place to administer graduate student fellowship funds (Passed unanimously)

There was also discussion regarding the exemplary job Mannie has done in creating a transparent and efficient process for managing and evaluating fellowships.

Faculty Fellows in Graduate School

Distribution of travel fellowships, GFS awards and recruitment supplemental fellowships is managed by one of our faculty fellows (this year, Mary Grigsby). Although the services of the faculty fellow were introduced as part of the discussion around fellowships and funding, the committee digressed to discuss the roles of the graduate school faculty fellows.

The graduate school currently has two faculty fellows, Angela Speck from Physics and Astronomy who leads the Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL: http://www.cirtl.net/) and Mary Grigsby from Rural Sociology who in addition to managing travel and fellowships, teaches a significant portion of the Preparing Future Faculty course and supervises the minor in college teaching. Faculty Fellows importantly contribute to graduate education in ways that match their interest. Mary has elevated the importance of the teaching portfolio as part of the PFF curriculum and this year developed and organized a post conference workshop for the Celebration of Teaching conference on graduate student mentoring. As a result, the graduate school will sponsor an external, expert presenter on mentoring graduate students, Susan Gardner from the University of Maine.

Faculty Fellows are part of the graduate school functional inventory. PFF will be discussed in more detail with Professional Development. It has an enrollment of >100 graduate students or postdocs, is a yearlong course for 1 credit per semester. Over a 4-5 year student life span, PFF probably reaches 25% of our on campus students. Considering that only 49% of our PhD students define themselves as seeking academic jobs, we are impacting 50% of students who will be or want to be future faculty. One goal is to expose them to the academic environment beyond what they see at MU by partnering with different types of colleges to create shadowing experiences.

CIRTL represents a network of 22 institutions whose goal is to improve STEM education. The CIRTL Network has NSF funding which passes to the network members for on campus programing.

Tuition Waivers

Tuition waivers currently go to graduate students with a qualifying assistantship at 0.25-0.70 FTE from an academic program or 0.5-0.7 FTE in a non-academic unit if it has relevance to the student’s academic profile. Compared to other research intensive institutions we are generous: some only offer waivers at 0.5 FTE but provide in state tuition for 0.25 FTE. There currently are no limits at MU on the number of students on tuition waivers with the exception of a few programs which have caps (MBA program) or no waivers (Engineering 3 plus 2). The graduate school does not regulate tuition waivers but follows the policies established by GFS and budget office. Thus, with few exceptions, students supported by an assistantship receive a tuition waiver. Waivers are given to students and not programs. An assistantship at 0.25 FTE is compensated $5100 for the academic year; the university writes-off >$15,000 in tuition revenue for that academic year. This year tuition waivers reached >$39 million.

The current policy for students supported on grants is that the grant pays the tuition. The graduate school works with PIs and programs according to the grant policy: i.e., some NIH grants cover 60% of tuition and fees, we calculate what the remaining 40% is and waive that amount. All tuition paid by grants is returned to the Budget Office (and GO accounts) and does not exist in the graduate school accounts.

The Task Force charge is to assess the inventory of the Graduate School and determine what portions could be more efficiently managed at the program level rather than in a central location such as the graduate school. Could programs manage the tuition waivers better than the graduate school? At present the graduate school staff have ~ 0.7 FTE dedicated to managing waivers, student insurance, grant payback of tuition and verifying qualifying assistantships for tuition waivers. Alternative models could be developed possibly assigning X number of waivers per unit or program including units such as student services and graduate studies which employ GRAs. Programs could then link the assistantship to the waiver/insurance. Finance office would be required to verify the qualifying assistantship? Is this a form of “cap”. Concern was expressed about limiting the number of waivers as graduate students play an extremely important role in meeting the teaching needs in A&S for all colleges; could dramatically impact undergraduate education.

  • Considering that our stipend level is also very low and needs to increase, perhaps we should be thinking about a 10 year plan to phase in better support for grad students.
  • Need data on number of students paid minimum stipend, number on 0.25, or 0.5 assistantships.
  • Revenue generating programs like MPH do not offer assistantships to their students. However, students are resourceful and find assistantships in other programs. Thus, tuition revenue for MPH is down due to our waiver policy.
  • Should assistantships from programs be “stipends/fellowships” with waivers to distinguish them from employment style assistantships? We have students out there whose programs do not support them.

The charge of the task force is to examine current graduate school functions and assess whether they should remain in the graduate school or move to academic units. However, regarding tuition waivers, do we think the waiver policy in general should be re-evaluated to address some of the issues raised in this discussion?

Recommendation:

Tuition waiver administration should remain within the office of graduate studies until a larger conversation can occur regarding long term plans for graduate student support and the tuition waiver policy. Motion Passed (one abstention)

Suggest - new DGS training include information on tuition waivers.

Resources