The Graduate Student Funding Task Force was established by Dean Tom Reynolds in fall 2017 to examine the state of graduate student funding at UNC Charlotte. It was also tasked to make recommendations on how the university might better ensure sustainable and scalable funding for graduate students and make more effective and efficient use of institutional and extramural resources.
During the 2017-18 academic year, the Task Force met regularly and collected, reviewed and synthesized relevant data to assess the nature and scope of current graduate student funding at the university. It also reviewed best practices and supporting data, and conducted a series of open forums to hear concerns and solicit ideas and feedback from UNC Charlotte students, faculty and staff. The Task Force’s effort was conducted within the context of a mutually agreed upon set of goals and principles to guide its work and discussions.
Three critical themes prevailed throughout the effort. First is that graduate student support should be comprehensive. It should include compensation packages that consist of a graduate assistantship stipend as well as tuition and fee support; transparency and consistency of work expectations and supervision; and opportunities for professional development. Second is that such overall support should be extended to both masters and doctoral students. Third is that compensation packages should, at a minimum, help ensure graduate student well-being and productivity by being set at thresholds that approximate a living wage in the context of Mecklenburg County. Key findings related to assistantship stipends and workload, tuition support, and the research agenda drove the creation of interconnected recommendations to help build a new model of graduate student funding at the University that should be both sustainable and scalable for the foreseeable future.
While we recognize that the various components of graduate student support are interrelated, for the sake of clarity we provide below an overview of our key findings and overarching recommendations grouped into two primary categories: Graduate Assistantships and Tuition and Fee Support. Details of these and other findings, and of our specific recommendations, follow in the body of the report along with supporting evidence and commentary.