From the Vice Provost of Graduate Education
A Response to GSAC
Administrators and faculty involved in doctoral education share the concerns raised by members of GSAC, because we want to attract the very best students to Penn and because we want to provide them the resources to do excellent work while they are here. We all recognize the critical role that Ph.D. students play in the teaching and research missions of the University. Our total support packages for Ph.D. students have kept pace with those offered by our peers and have exceeded increases in the local cost of living. We are also aware, however, that a few of our peers have recently announced substantial new efforts to increase funding of Ph.D. students. Penn can not and will not allow our support packages to fall behind those of other top-ranking programs and we have taken steps to maintain our standing.
The minimum (9-month) stipend levels for students supported by University Fellowships will increase next year from $10,800 to $12,000. We chose to offer a substantial increase in stipend because that offers the maximum flexibility to students who may then decide how to spend their dollars. Many graduate students are able to retain health insurance coverage under their parents' plans (or under a spouse's plan) at no additional cost. By offering a stipend increase rather than insurance coverage, these students receive more financial support, at the same cost to Penn.
There are numerous lower cost alternatives (than a one-bedroom apartment) for Ph.D. students who desire to live on campus. Ph.D. students are strongly encouraged to consider becoming Graduate Associates in the College Houses. As Graduate Associates, room and board on campus are covered. In addition to the financial benefits of becoming a GA, these essential College House positions provide leadership opportunities and a chance to become an integral part of the campus community.
I am very grateful to GSAC for their thoughtful recommendations about further improvements to graduate education at Penn. I have spoken with colleagues including Vice Provost for University Life Valarie McCoullum and Associate Vice President for Campus Services Larry Moneta specifically about the issues concerning graduate student space and housing options. They are very eager to review proposals in consultation with the Graduate Student Associations Council members and other constituencies around campus. We all look forward to meeting with GSAC and to working together over the coming months.
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 20, February 9, 1999