Strategic goal 2: Foster success of USU’s graduate students
Funding for graduate student support
For the third year in a row, the Utah legislature allocated new funding targeted at enhancing graduate education at USU. Part of the new recurring funds that were allocated for FY17 will help meet critical graduate student support needs in each of the colleges, with the specific uses for those funds being determined by each college. Other new funding will support new faculty hires in areas that will contribute to graduate education, including a new emphasis on Data Science that is being developed by the colleges of Science, Engineering, and the Huntsman College of Business. The Library was the final recipient of a portion of the new funding, in recognition of the critical role that the library plays in supporting graduate education and research.
Supplemental language tuition
In recognition of the important role that facility in a foreign language can play in some fields of study, the Office of Research and Graduate Studies established a limited fund to cover tuition for foreign language coursework. Limiting funding to coursework that is included on a graduate Program of Study will ensure that the student’s supervisory committee has determined that the language study will contribute to the student’s graduate program.
In FY16, the final 13 fellowship slots were allocated to departments. From this point forward, the total of 51 fellowships slots (allocated to colleges based on proportion of PH.D. enrollments) will become open when a current Fellow “Graduates” from their slot.
The nature of the award remains the same: a $20,000 minimum income for students, with an average of $10,000 per student per year coming in the form of a fellowship stipend from RGS, the rest funded by students’ home departments. In addition, RGS covers 100% of tuition (excluding differential tuition) for the Fellows during their four years of fellowship funding.
In addition, this year the Presidential Doctoral Research Fellowships program graduated its first two fellows: Troy Munro and Maureen Frank.
First ArtSTEM fellow graduated
Matt Fiske, the first graduate student to be supported by an ART-STEM Fellowship, completed his degree in spring 2016 and has accepted a prestigious 1-year residency at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, MT. Matt completed his MFA degree in the Department of Art and Design, working with Professor of Ceramics John Neely. The STEM components of Matt’s graduate program included both geology and material science. His integration of those STEM fields with his focus on ceramics is an outstanding example of the goal of the ART-STEM fellowship, which was created to encourage collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Enhance recruitment efforts
The Graduate Student Recruitment Team aims to recruit an increased quality, quantity and diversity of students by supporting projects, processes and initiatives that produce measurable changes.
These recruitment efforts fall under one of two categories: department support and central recruitment.
Department support, when enacted systematically and efficiently, is a crucial component of graduate student recruitment as contact with potential students often occurs on the department level.
Central recruitment consists of projects and initiatives supporting faculty and department recruitment needs. Centralized projects and resources have the potential to improve graduate school recruitment throughout all programs and fall into one of these three areas: branding, lead generation and evaluation.
Three tactics were identified FY16 to aid in departmental recruitment:
In June 2016, the recruitment team invested in a membership with Gradschoolmatch. Gradschoolmatch, is an online hub where an advanced algorithm uses each program’s profile information to generate a list of students that would be a good fit for the program. Currently, all USU programs are on Gradschoolmatch, giving faculty another tool to find students and allow them to directly message students who are currently making a short list of programs.
The recruitment team recognizes that Gradschoolmatch is a new tool, and is dedicated to increasing awareness of the tool and training on how to best utilize it to faculty throughout FY17.
RGS knows that visiting a prospective institution makes a difference in a student’s decision. Because of this, in FY17, RGS will support departments interested in bringing students who have been made offers to USU for campus visits. RGS support will come in providing programing for weekend visits and covering the cost of the programing provided. Departments will still be responsible for covering the travel costs of visiting students.
The new industry standard in graduate student recruitment is that students make decisions based on the personal attention and immediate service that they get.
To better track graduate student information requests and prospective students’ progression in the graduate admission process, the recruitment team has employed Ellucian Recruit, which is already being used to process student applications. FY17 will bring further development of workflows and tools to aid in recruitment tactics.
Graduate Training Series (GrTS)
Now in its third year, the Graduate Training Series (GrTS) provides monthly opportunities for graduate students to augment their studies with professional development that will prepare them for the next steps in their career paths. Drawing from experts across campus, GrTS provides graduate students from across disciplines skillsets that will set them apart as strong professionals in their fields.
In addition to the workshops, resources were made available online (grts.usu.edu) to those who were not able to attend.
Student Research Symposium
Student Research Symposium (SRS), one of Research Week’s most attended events, is USU’s largest showcase of student research. Intended to give students a platform to share their research with their peers, faculty judges, and the campus community, SRS features over 300 graduate and undergraduate researchers.
To refine the goals of SRS, the Project Management and Communication division issued a survey to past participants and results indicated that students highly valued SRS as a training opportunity to improve their presentation skills. For the second year, students could submit their posters and slides to PMC prior to SRS to receive evaluation of their work based on a best practices rubric. This feedback was emailed back to students and submissions demonstrating best practices were awarded “Excellent Communicator” badges that students could display during their poster or oral session. As in previous years, students presented in discipline specific sessions where they received email feedback from some of the 60 faculty judges.
Graduate Student Travel Awards
The Graduate Student Travel Fund promotes student involvement in their disciplines by partially funding travel costs associated with professional presentations at regional, national, and international conference. The travel fund is a dollar-for-dollar matching grant between RGS and an applicant’s department. Depending on if an applicant is attending a regional, national, or international conference, RGS will provide up to $200, $300 or $400, respectively.
This year RGS received 367 applications for travel funding, awarding 313 (85.3%) of applicants. For FY16, RGS awarded $88,600 worth of travel fund grants, which were matched by $88,600 in department funds.
Ellucian Recruit was implemented in fall 2015 as the new software platform for undergraduate and graduate applications. Recruit automates a number of processes that were previously done by Graduate School admission processors such as facilitate communication with applicants, allow departments and programs to customize their applications if they require additional application materials, and provide a web-based interface through which applicants can monitor the status of their applications. One notable outcome of this transition to Recruit is a reduction in the number of admission processors that the Graduate School employs to deal with the large number of applications that are submitted from November through February (over 1,900 applications this past year).