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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Funding shifts for Summer Scholars

Tighter funding restrictions in place for popular university research program


With summer 2015 fast approaching, many students have submitted proposals in order to work with a faculty member this summer through the university-wide Summer Scholars Program. However, it seems that the competition to get into the program this year may be more intense than in the past as a result of changes to how university funding for the program is dispersed.

Every summer, numerous students engage in faculty mentored-research or creative programs, usually with the goal of getting either the faculty member or student published. Last week, an email was sent to all department heads and faculty looking to participate in the Summer Scholars Program outlining coming changes to the program.

According to the email, sent from the director of the program, Michael McCann, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the budget this year will allow for 95 students to participate—20 fewer spots than the 115 that were available in 2013.

Additionally, according to the email, “Departments and programs will no longer be able to supplement the program funding using operating budget funds or funds from specified giving lines…further, any additional gifts received, including gifts from faculty to support students, will be used as budget relieving, not as budget additive.”

This means that faculty members are unable to supplement their specific program with funds from either the department or their personal resources and any gifts or donations given to the department will not be used to increase the budget for Summer Scholars.

“I know that there is a budget crunch,” said Paul Klingsberg, Ph.D., professor of mathematics, “but if there are funds available I think that the Summer Scholars should be funded to the greatest extent.”

Randall Miller, Ph.D., professor of history, also expressed concern, saying, “It’s very disturbing to me…basically you are constricting the program to what the university raised generally as opposed to anything specific.”

Klingsberg, who participated as a faculty mentor in the program in 2013, stated that last year, due to financial issues, all participating faculty members were asked to give up their stipend in order to help with funding for the Summer Scholars Program. Faculty members participate in the program on a voluntary basis, but in the past have often been given a small stipend as a compensation for their time.

“Last year they asked us if anybody would voluntarily give up their stipend to fund more Summer Scholars and I certainly did, and I think everybody did,” said Klingsberg. “It was much more important to fund this…all of us thought it was worth putting our, you know, $500 in towards this, because this is more important than the bottom line.”

Miller, who is looking to work with a student this summer, explained that he understands why some funding processes are being changed; however, he is worried students, specifically his own potential mentee, will not be approved to participate in the program.

“The operating budget rule is basically part of, as I understand it, part of the larger university effort to change the way the operating budgets are organized and how the funds are allocated within that, and that really came into being this year…[but] I don’t know that the one [candidate] that I have is going to get funded,” said Miller.

Rosalind Reichard, Ph.D., interim provost, explained that the changes allow the university to provide funding upfront, and as a result, the departments will not have to pull money from any other places.

“It was expected that departments, if they could save money within their budgets…would be able to take some of their budget money and provide it to the Summer Scholars Program,” Reichard said. “So instead of that, what we’ve done is said, ‘OK, great, we’ve had a wonderful program, let’s go ahead and provide the money that you need up front, here it is.’”

Reichard explained that if the departments of faculty members did raise more money or received donations, that money would be underwritten and used as budget relieving instead of as a budget additive; this meaning, the money would not be used to build up or add to the budget of the program but rather to ease the department of past financial dues.

When informed of this news, Klingsberg said he was very upset. “I know that there is a budget crunch, but if there are funds available I think that the Summer Scholars should be funded to the greatest extent,” he said.

Summer Scholar student participants, after hearing the news, also expressed concerns. Jamie Palmer, ’17, who worked with the biology department last summer, has submitted a proposal to work again this coming summer.

“[The funding changes] definitely makes it more competitive…it definitely affects the number of students that can participate in the program, and it [makes it] more difficult for faculty to get the resources that they need,” Palmer said.

Stephanie Schallenhammer, ’16, is another participant who has worked with the chemistry department over the summer. “That’s a shame that they’re doing that [altering the budget],” Schallenhammer said, “because it takes away the opportunity for a lot of kids who actually want the lab experience…but [it] also takes away advanced ways for those professors to end up becoming published because they have lack of students.”

Reichard, however, maintained that the budgetary alterations would allow in- creased flexibility for those in the program. “[The departments are] not going to have to take money out of their budgets and funnel it over into [the] Summer Scholars Program. They’ll actually have more money [and] they can use it for other things,” said Reichard.

Klingsberg explained that he recognizes the budgeting issue, but does not see why it must take away from faculty support for students. “I can understand if before the budget crunch is resolved they have to cut back on the number of students…but if it’s temporary, one would hope that it would go back up when times got better…but changing the rules so that the departments can’t help put students into the program I find a little more disturbing,” said Klingsberg “I can’t see why they’re doing it; maybe there is a good reason.”

Both students and faculty alike are currently waiting to see how many submitted proposals will be approved in March and subsequently, how much money will be allocated to the Summer Scholars Program for 2015.

 

Erin Raftery, ’15 contributed interviews for this article.

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