Fund aids grads in research phase

The Columbian School of Arts and Sciences dean’s office will use an anonymous $10,000 donation to establish a fund to support graduate students who are completing their dissertations.

The new fund will help CSAS graduate students who are working on dissertations pay the $680 per semester continuous research fee, which will be implemented this fall.

“I’m tickled that it happened,” said Christopher Sterling, CSAS associate dean for graduate studies. “Grad students need money the most and have it the least. Whoever the donor is – thank God.”

“The amount of money coming from students due to the increased fee will still be greater than the amount returning to students from this new research support fund,” said Student Association Graduate Sen. Emily Cummins (CSAS). “But the establishment of this fund is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Last fall’s fee increase provoked heated reactions from CSAS graduate students, who complained that the hike was unjustified.

CSAS Dean Lester Lefton, however, said this fund was not created as a result of CSAS graduate student complaints.

“This has nothing to do with the new graduate fee,” Lefton said.

Lefton said the fund came from an anonymous donor who specified the donation should go to graduate students in the dissertation phase.

Lefton said the fund will be distributed this year to between five and 10 students. The grants awarded will vary from $500 to $2,000 and will be based on the applicant’s prospectus.

Lefton and Sterling will choose the recipients of the grant. Lefton and Sterling will consult with CSAS faculty members to make the decisions.

Lefton said the decisions will be based on the merit of the students rather than their financial need.

“We understand the needs they have, but this will not be based on need but on the quality of the proposals,” he said.

Cummins said she supports the allocation method and believes students who need and deserve financial support will benefit.

“Allocating grant money on a competitive basis and earmarking social science researchers are both appropriate decisions,” Cummins said.

Sterling said he is unsure of the number of applications he will receive by the Feb. 15 deadline, or the competitiveness of the grants. He said he expects to receive more than the two applications he has so far.

Cummins said an SA Senate resolution will be sent to the Academic Affairs Committee next Tuesday, a move she said she hopes will encourage the administration to make the fund a permanent part of GW’s budget.

“The administration is consciously strengthening its support of graduate students,” Cummins said. “The SA wants to make sure that this dissertation support fund will last for years and years.”

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