Grad News

Free Copy Cards for Grad Students

The Graduate Concerns Office is offering free copy cards ($10 value each) to FAU graduate students. The cards, provided by the Boca Graduate Grants Committee may be used at the FAU library or other copy machines that use departmental copy cards. Call 561/297-1170 for details, or visit the Agency for Graduate Concerns (UC Room 221) to get a card.

Graduate Grants – Going Fast!

The Boca based Graduate Grants Committee offers grants for graduate students to assist with the cost of research-related expenses, presenting their work and attending academic conferences and seminars. The Committee offers grants of up to $1,000 – each student can receive up to two grants per year.

This year, the Committee received over $50,000 worth of funding from FAU student government. The Committee’s chair, Lorinda Wood, says that the GGC has roughly $12,000 left to provide in grants.

Also, this year, the demand for grants has been up, with twenty more grants being processed compared with last year’s figures. Wood plans to request more funding from Student Government when the Committee runs out of money. Students are advised to hurry – awards are made on a first come first served basis.

The Broward Graduate Council has awarded 39 grants this year, an increase on last year’s awards.

Broward Graduate Council Calls for Members

The Broward based Graduate Student Council is looking for members to represent the interests of Broward Grad students, and vote on awards for grants. It currently has four seats available. Those interested should contact Randy Goin at [email protected]

Business & Education: Coffee & Donuts!

Business and Education students are a largely neglected part of the graduate student population. Many of them work full-time jobs and take evening classes, appearing and disappearing from the classes under cover of darkness, unable to see or get involved with graduate activities at FAU.

It seems that someone is finally taking notice of this large portion of the student body. The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is organizing two “Graduate Refresher” events, where they will provide drinks, snacks and information about themselves.

The events are set to occur on Jan. 28 at 3:30 p.m. in the education building and February 21st at 7pm in Fleming Hall.

College of Education to Hold Research Symposium

On March 29th, the Student Advisory Council and the College of Education are holding their first annual student research symposium. Aimed at Education Students it intends to provide an opportunity to present their work in a public forum.

There is currently a call for papers and the deadline is Friday, Feb. 15. Abstracts can be sent via email to Jennie L. Olaguibel at [email protected]

Graduate Assistants – Budget Cuts

FAU’s recent spate of spending cuts, hiring freezes and contract non-renewals have had mixed effects on Graduate Students. While many are feeling the pinch of departmental and administrative cutbacks, fears of widespread redundancies and abolition of student assistantships seem to have been unfounded. An initial recommendation by legislators to abolish graduate assistantships was reconsidered, and instead University Vice Presidents were given latitude to achieve spending cuts by their own means. This has meant that for much of FAU, graduate assistantships have been spared, although some departments have had more problems than others.

Adjuncts seem to have been the worst hit. Preliminary discussions among members of the FAU SACS accreditation committee on Research and Teaching indicated that FAU had a very large number of adjunct professors. Adjuncts, often hired on a semesterly basis, are much cheaper to hire than regular faculty and can be discarded when times are hard or they are no longer needed.

FAU has shed a number of adjuncts, and in some departments, for example FAU psychology, graduate teaching assistants have taken up their class load. Some departments have woken up to the fact that while adjuncts can be cheaper than regular tenured faculty, teaching assistants are cheaper still.

Graduate students in some departments have been hit harder than others: at the end of the Fall semester, posters appeared in the Science and Engineering building advertising TA’s and inviting students to apply. Normally TA’s are not awarded competitively, however Engineering seems to be bucking the trend.

At a recent GSA meeting, Jennie Olaguibel reported that the college of education had not renewed a couple of graduate assistantships. Since assistantships are awarded on a semesterly basis, if your contract is “not renewed” it’s a bit like being fired. Other departments moved to only employ their Ph.D. students in assistantships, dropping the Masters’ students from the payroll.

For international students, losing an assistantship can be very serious. Those on F-1 (student) visas are only allowed to work on campus for a maximum of twenty hours. In addition they must show proof of income of over $27,000 per year to cover living expenses and classes. For these students, losing one’s assistantship is serious indeed.

For US citizens, losing an assistantship also causes hardship: Having to take another job – perhaps off campus – means extra commuting time and a less student friendly schedule.

Dr Nathan Dean, University Vice-Provost had indicated that FAU would do everything it could to protect its graduate assistants. They have largely been spared the rod of cutbacks, but reducing the overall money at the University will still have knock on effects, as departments are forced to reduce the amount they spend and make their staff work harder. One effect may be that TA’s are forced to teach more classes, but with the University currently undergoing its accreditation review it will have to be very careful about the workloads and responsibilities it places on its graduate assistants.

Another major effect of FAU cutbacks is that the number of graduate classes on offer is being reduced. Limiting class choice means problems for staying in full-time status (affecting financial aid), and potential delays in graduation as students have to wait to take required courses. Reducing the number of undergraduate courses will also have the effect of reducing the numbers of teaching assistants needed – meaning fewer jobs for grads – especially over the summer.

One of the most sinister aspects of the whole issue is that Graduate Students were largely ignorant of what was going on. The Graduate Student Association and Agency for Graduate Concerns repeatedly asked students to let them know if jobs were under threat. The response from students was minimal – noone seemed to know what was going on, or at least no one was telling.

While FAU’s critics might attribute this to a conspiracy of silence, the problem seems to be as much with students as with administration. Nathan Dean announced the proposed cuts at a Graduate Student meeting attended by members of the Graduate Concerns office, Graduate Studies office and Graduate Student Association as well as other grad students from around FAU.

It is perhaps a function of the disparate workings of graduate school that despite reports in the University Press and meetings of graduate groups, for the most part FAU grads remained largely ignorant of the whole matter. If things had gone differently, and assistantships been abolished, no one would have known until it was too late to do anything. As such it seems that FAU graduate students remain divided, largely uninformed and above all a vulnerable community.

If you have any news, comments or information about graduate life at FAU, contact Roger Sambrook at [email protected]

Upcoming Events

“Graduate Refresher” (Coffee Break)Monday, January 28, 20023:30-4:30 p.m. Education Department, Boca campusCoffee, Tea, Soda, & Snacks provided!Contact: [email protected]

Storytelling with Jim MayThursday, February 21, 200212:30pm Free Speech Lawn, Boca campus.Contact: Caren Neile [email protected]

“Graduate Refresher” (Coffee Break)Thursday, February 21, 20026-7 p.m. Fleming Hall, Boca campusCoffee, Tea, Soda, & Snacks provided!Contact: [email protected]

Grant Writing Workshop (Video and Q & A Panel)Tuesday, March 12, 20022-4 p.m. Live Oak Pavilion (behind University Center), Boca campus How to write a grant and get it!; Everyone welcome!Contact: [email protected]

1st Annual Student Advisory Council – College of Education Research SymposiumFriday, March 29th, 20028am-2pm. FAU College of Education.Contact: Jennie L. Olaguibel [email protected]

Graduate Organizations

Agency for Graduate Concerns (AGC)University Center 221.Tel (561) 297-1170Email [email protected] page: www.fau.edu/agc

Graduate Student Association (GSA)Graduate Grants Committee (GGC)University Center 221Tel (561) 297-1169Email [email protected] http://www.fau.edu/academic/gradstud/gsa.htm (or ggc.htm)

Broward Graduate CouncilTel: (954) 762-5615Fax: (954) 762-5290 Email: [email protected]://www.gradcouncil.fau.edu/

Office of Graduate Studies and AdmissionsAdministration Room 201Email: [email protected]: (561)297-3624Fax (561)297-2117Web: http://www.fau.edu/academic/gradstud/grad.htm