Conference funding changes

Dear Graduate Student,

As you may be aware the Graduate Student Government has been the sole centralized source of conference funding for many graduate students in recent times. The GSG had originally decided to offer conference funding to graduate students in an effort to supplement already existing sources of funding that students may have had access to from their supervisors, departments, or colleges. However, with time the demand on us grew so much that in the budget year 2014-2015 2/3rds ($100,000) of our budget was going towards funding conference attendance. This had proven to become a huge budgetary constraint for us because no matter what we did we could never meet the overwhelming demand for conference attendance funding with our meager funds. Moreover, the job of accepting, and processing conference attendance applications was proving to be onerous. We could not effectively make a value judgment on the nature of the conference and/or the quality of work of the attendee and so we were operating on a first come first serve model almost exclusively.

At our first meeting with the (then) new Provost James Bean we brought up our budgetary and personnel constraints. Provost Bean agreed that the GSG is not the most suitable nor the most effective home for centralized conference funding.

So, last year (which also happened to be our 20th anniversary!) we decided to ask you what you wanted in our annual survey. Overwhelmingly graduate students told us that they would prefer that the student fee did not go to conference funding and that they wanted to see more on campus programming from us. We had already stepped up our on campus programming last year and the great attendance was the final push that we needed. The GSG senate took your needs to heart and agreed to cut $40,000 from the individual conference attendance line item of the GSG budget.

We also presented our survey results to the university’s senior leadership team (SLT) in January – the reception was great. At our follow up meeting in March with the SLT the university committed to make up the $40k shortfall in the conference attendance line item in the GSG budget. Also, we have been promised an online application system which would take away much of the processing from the GSG.

While we switch to a centralized online application model, the GSG will still be accepting and processing conference funding applications. However in an effort to make the application and approval process more fair we have agreed to a priority model of approvals. The priority goes as follows:

  1. Panelist/Presenter (PhD)
  2. Poster (PhD)
  3. Panelist/Presenter (non PhD)
  4. Poster (non PhD)
  5. General attendee

Please note that approvals and awards are never guaranteed. The approval and amount of the award can differ depending on the availability of funds.

Please bear with us as we go through the changes of the conference application and awarding process as we work with the Provost’s office to make the process more efficient and equitable.

If you have concerns or questions about this please do not hesitate to email us at


Graduate Student Government