Interim Provost A. Scott Weber announced on Wednesday he will provide bridge-funding to all UB colleges, fully covering the Ph.D. stipend increase for 2020-21 and covering 50% for 2021-22.
For the original Ph.D. Excellence Initiative, a UB initiative announced on Aug. 26 which increased the Ph.D. stipend floor to $20,000, UB planned to provide bridge-funding fully covering the increased stipends for 2019-20, 50% for 2020-21 and 25% for 2021-22. The College of Arts and Sciences then paused recruitment for funded Ph.D. students in 23 of its 29 departments on Sept. 19. After CAS faculty voiced concerns about the way the decision was made, CAS Dean Robin Schulze, along with chairs from across CAS departments, compiled a resolution asking Weber for additional funding for the stipends on Sept. 27.
“Expanded bridge-funding will support Ph.D. stipends while providing a more flexible window to ensure decanal units move forward with academic-focused evaluations of their programs and with strategies they seek to improve Ph.D. program excellence,” Weber wrote in an email.
Schulze wrote the increase in bridge-funding will provide CAS with the necessary “flexibility” to recruit more Ph.D. students for fall 2020 “while pursuing the objectives of the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative.”
Schulze said the committees will provide departments with concrete information about the number of funded Ph.D. students they can enroll in fall 2020 beyond the Schomburg and Presidential candidates within the next two weeks.
“We need the input of as many people as possible to answer the difficult questions these vital conversations will undoubtedly generate, as well as to design processes and plan for the implementation of the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative,” Schulze wrote in an email.
Vice Provost of Educational Affairs Graham Hammill said Ph.D. students will have “long-term benefits” through the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative. In October, 1,016 Ph.D. students will receive the stipend raise to $20,000, making UB one of the top-five public Association of American Universities.
Kenneth Dauber, English professor and member of the Faculty Senate, said CAS faculty is still “very angry.”
“The CAS faculty remains extremely unhappy,” Dauber said. “There have been people saying they have no confidence in the dean, no confidence in [top administrators] and they see this top research university extraordinarily compromised.”
Weber said the “long-term investments” of the Ph.D. Excellence Initiative will be discussed at a meeting on Oct. 8.
“I believe absolutely that we need to support our Ph.D. students better and recommit to the ideal that they are co-investigators vital to the university’s success as a research institution,” Schulze wrote in an email. “I am confident that with all faculty engaged, we will enhance both current and future students’ experiences at UB and help our students achieve successful outcomes.”
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Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.
Brittany Gorny is the senior news editor.