Purpose

To assist in funding highly ranked new and early career (RA1) graduate students who do not have a confirmed source of external funding.

Rationale

The number of active graduate students, and specifically those enrolled in Ph.D. programs, continues to decline in the College.

The Executive Committee voiced their concern that a rising pattern of risk aversion among faculty to accept new graduate students in the absence of guaranteed support is contributing to a slowing of admission of graduate students, and is contributing to decreased research activity in the College and problems maintaining sufficient enrollment in graduate classes.

There are several possible reasons that numbers of graduate students involved in advanced research within the College of the Environment are down:

  • Faculty demographic shift
  • Increased funding competition and uncertainty
  • Funding shifts to post-doctoral researchers as GSRA costs increase rapidly

Policy

In response to a decline in the number of graduate students in some units, the Dean’s Office created GROE​ to incentivize:

  • Faculty to accept a promising new grad student even if they do not yet have grant funding in hand to pay for that student;
  • Faculty to submit a grant proposal that includes full grad student support as close as possible to the application deadline for new student admission into the unit’s graduate program (see below).

A graphic showing the graduate student recruiting season, with April 15 listed as the acceptance deadline and May 1 listed as the GROE final check on Acceptances.

GROE funding will provide a bridge to successful grant and contract support by PI’s, and enhance research activity at the unit level. Preference will be given to recruiting new Ph.D. students over existing Ph.D. students and terminal Masters students, except in programs where a Masters is the only degree awarded.

Program Objectives:

  • Encourage more robust research activity within units
  • Encourage a larger research-focused graduate student population
  • Somewhat diversify the financial risk of accepting new graduate students among PI, unit and College

Program Details

The Dean will provide up to 24 quarters of RA support annually.

GROE awards will be either for one year (four quarters) or for two years (eight quarters), at the unit’s discretion. No single student will be supported by GROE for more than two years. All GROE funding for a student must be used within 4 years of its allocation to the unit. Supported students, the grants and contracts to which the GROE funding is bridging, and any ICR that may be generated, must reside entirely within the College of the Environment.

Constraints

Graduate support for ≥75% of the grant tenure must be included in any submitted proposal.

Any ​GROE​ award must be 1:1 matched by the department/school. Acceptable categories of unit support include fellowship or scholarship funds (endowment funds), or departmental funds paying for TA-ships. Grant funds where the applying faculty member is the PI are not acceptable. In rare cases, departmental training grants, or other short-term opportunities competitively awarded to students (e.g. GO-MAP, Top Scholar) may be used as the match – please check a priori with the Associate Dean for Research.

Relative to the annual graduate recruitment cycle outlined above, there are three categories of fundability:

  1. FAST-TRACK – The faculty member already has a proposal containing full graduate support submitted and the outcome is not known by Jan-March when offers to students must be made. The faculty member has a great prospective student in mind to recruit and does not otherwise have the funds to do so. Decisions on such applications will be made rapidly.
  2. TIER TWO– The faculty member has a great prospective student in mind to recruit and does not have the funds to do so. There is no current proposal in submission but the grant deadlines for proposals to specific (known) organizations can be met within 12 months after the GROE application. Higher rankings will be shorter lead times within that year’s cycle.
  3. TIER THREE – Everything else.

Mechanics:

Who applies: Faculty interested in applying for a GROE award must approach their Chair/Director for approval. The applications are submitted to the Associate Dean for Research by the Chair/Director.

Application cycle : Applications may come to the Dean’s Office at any time; however, specific attention to the grad recruitment cycle (above) and the associated categories of fundability is strongly advised.

Number of applications per unit : Multiple applications from a single unit, during any one academic year as well as in total, will be considered. However, funding balance across all units will be a consideration.

 

Flowchart of GROE funding

 

Application types : There are two forms of GROE possible: full award and backstop. In both cases, the initial award will only cover a single funding year. A second year is possible in the case where the grant used to support the application was not funded and the faculty member resubmits immediately (within the next funding cycle) to support the same student.

Full Award : The Dean’s Office commits 2 quarters of support and the unit also commits 2 quarters. Funding starts when the student arrives. Unit funding must be spent first. Funding may alternate (every other quarter) or proceed sequentially (unit first, Dean’s Office second). The entire year of funding is paid out regardless of whether the grant was received. If the grant does come through, a second year of GROE will not be awarded.

Backstop : The Dean’s Office and the unit commit to a 1:1 split of any expended support for the new student until the grant is received, or a year is expended, whichever comes first. If the grant is received within a year from the start of GROE funding, the remaining unit and Dean’s Office funds are essentially placed back into the main funding pool for the next applicant to GROE.

In both cases, the initial award will only cover a single funding year. A second year is possible in the case where the grant was not funded and the faulty member resubmits immediately (within the next funding cycle) and to support the same student.

It is the responsibility of the unit Chair/Director to clearly state in the letter of application which model the unit wishes to fund.

Application Submission and Award Procedure

Faculty interested in applying for a GROE award need to submit the following information to their unit chair/director:

  • GROE model being requested (see above)
  • Student name (if known)
  • Student status (recruit or current student)
  • Faculty PI name (and advisor(s), if different from the PI)
  • Preferred start of GROE funding
  • Title and eGC1 number of grant proposal submitted (if already submitted)
  • Grant proposal submission date (past or anticipated)
  • Funding source applied to (e.g. agency and program or RFP)
  • Award notification date (estimated)
  • Short justification: (see example below):

[Student name] completed their undergraduate degree at [institution name] in [year of undergraduate matriculation] with a GPA of [number]. Their GRE scores are in the [ordinal number] percentile in every category. They have extensive research experience and have worked in several labs during their academic career and have experience working with [describe area(s) of research]. They have the exact skill set the PI is looking for in a graduate student. All of their letters of recommendation are very positive. They have been admitted into [department name]. Having the ability to offer them an RA will greatly increase our chances of recruiting them.

Unit chairs/directors, and their executive structures, are responsible for prioritizing all requests within the unit for submission to the Dean’s Office. The unit head will submit a prioritized list of GROE proposals to the Associate Dean of Research. A statement committing matching funds from the chair/director is also required.

The Associate Dean of Research will review applications as they come in. Although applications will be accepted at any time, because we anticipate this fund will be used to recruit new graduate students, we expect GROE applications to largely coincide with the graduate application cycle. Regardless of award date, acceptance of the award by a particular student must be made by April 14, at which time unclaimed GROE awards are placed into the next yearly cycle for competition.

If a recruited student chooses not to accept the award, then the unit director may ask for consideration of the next student on the priority list. A reasonable maximum number of pending requests for any unit would be for 8 quarters of GROE support. This would provide alternative choices if first offers are not accepted.

Reporting

One year following the start of GROE funding, a short report must be submitted to the Associate Dean of Research containing:

  1. Supported student name, advisor name, unit name
  2. Grant(s)/contract(s) applied for (please include eGC1 number, agency, requested/awarded amount), award decision(s) and date of decision.
  3. Plan for continued support of the student

Award Evaluation

Evaluation of requests for GROE funding will consider the following elements:

  • College-wide distribution of funding
  • Prioritization by Chair/Director
  • Evaluation of future funding potential
  • Quality of student (where prospective student has been identified)

Post-Award Evaluation

After three years, the Dean’s Office and Executive Committee will evaluate the impact of the program in terms of:

  • Attitude of faculty, and of unit chairs/directors, towards the usefulness of the program
  • Number of supported students who transitioned to funded grants and contracts
  • Student numbers and G&C activity trends in research labs with and without a GROE funded student

Effective Date: September 4, 2019

Last Review Date: September 4, 2019

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