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Graduate students travel grant cut, substituted by decreased ’emergency’ fund

Recent University of Miami budget cuts may cost graduate students valuable funds for travel to present research and prepare for future careers in their respective fields.

Graduate students were dealt a blow  in January when the University of Miami decided to suspend the Provost Travel Grant, but the grant was recently substituted by the Graduate Research Supplemental Fund (GRSF), according to John Constantinide, parliamentarian of the Graduate Student Association (GSA).

The Graduate Research Supplemental Fund provides $100 per student, while the suspended Provost Travel Grant gave up to $450 to accommodate students presenting or performing their work at academic and research conferences nationwide.

While Constantinide said that the GSRF provides students with money for conferences, in-field research, renting facilities and exhibiting works, Julia Mortyakova, president of  the Graduate Student Association, said that the GRSF was an emergency measure created by the GSA.

The suspended Provost Travel Grant, Mortyakova added, was an invaluable resource for graduate students because they are consistently presenting.

“Certain departments strongly encourage students to perform at conferences because it’s very important for their future careers,” Mortyakova said.

Mortyakova added that the university is a research institution and allowing students to present research around the nation shows our school in a respectable light.

The Provost Travel Grant had a downside: it was given to graduate students only once for their degree.

“In terms of the GRSF, so far it was for this semester, because we don’t know if the Provost Grant will come back,” Mortyakova said.

Along with the travel grant, the university suspended full health coverage benefits for doctoral students. The provost’s office and the graduate school would have subsidized health care for research, teaching and graduate assistants starting in August 2008.

“Recently, because of the economic downturn, the provost’s office was unable to fund it,” Constantinide said. “Instead of getting health insurance paid for, they’re getting $1,000 credit.”

Plans are now being changed, Mortyakova said, as she recalled the health insurance subsidy being graduate school dean Terri Scandura’s big initiative.

And budgetary cuts still leave graduate students with problems regarding housing.

Both Mortyakova and Constantinide confirmed that Dean Scandura and graduate school assistant dean Sandra Abraham, along with GSA members, met with the Red Road Commons representative. They expressed their concern to the representative that graduate students would not be able to afford housing.

“He didn’t take our concerns seriously,” Mortyakova said.

All graduate concerns can be discussed at the GSA Senate meetings.

Gabriela Halder, a senator for GSA, said that without the organization she could not get valuable information.

“It’s also helped me to meet a lot of people in high positions,” she said.

Four other meetings will be held this semester.

GSA Senate Meetings
Mon., March 2 – 5-6 p.m. Room 241 in the UC
Mon., March 23 – 5-6 p.m. Room B in the UC
Mon., April 6 – 5-6 p.m. Room 241 in the UC
Mon., April 20 – 5-6 p.m. Room B in the UC

February 25, 2009

Reporters

Andrea Concepcion

Contributing News Writer


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