The Collegian
Saturday, September 24, 2022

UR raises Richmond Guarantee stipends

<p>Students walk on the path next to Ryland Hall.&nbsp;</p>

Students walk on the path next to Ryland Hall. 

Several modifications to the Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship, including changes in student and faculty stipends, the application process and summer housing, will take effect in 2022.

The Richmond Guarantee has been raised from a stipend of $4,000 to $5,000, and students will be able to use this money to support a 10-week internship or period of faculty-mentored research, according to a Jan. 14 memo from the Undergraduate Research Committee.

All of these changes aim to encourage students to pursue their interests, develop close relationships with faculty mentors and prompt contemplation of future goals, Lori Schuyler, vice president of planning and policy, said. 

Dan Palazzolo, interim dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, explained how fortunate the University of Richmond is to have its research program while also stressing the importance of remaining conscious of aspects that can be improved. 

The School of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship is "about doing research and being mentored by faculty,” Palazzolo said. “If you can remove the bureaucratic elements and obstacles to that, then you’re going to get a better output.”

The committee, Schuyler and Palazzolo, collaborated on restructuring the A&S Summer Research Fellowship, the URC wrote in the memo.

Stipends can be prorated for students who wish to work anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks, the URC wrote.

David Brandenberger, chair of the URC and professor of history and global studies, described how the increase in the Richmond Guarantee will allow students to pursue their educational and professional interests more easily.

“Students can afford to devote themselves to either an unpaid internship or research so they can be working on things which contribute to their academic trajectory,” Brandenberger said. 

Junior Kelsey Hart said she planned on using her Richmond Guarantee this summer to support a research project on an inherited brain degeneration disorder called Machado-Joseph Disease.

“I think that it’s really great that stipends are being increased because I know that in the past most of the money that students made went to their housing,” she said.

Additionally, School of Arts and Sciences faculty will receive an increased stipend for mentoring or supervising undergraduate summer research, the URC wrote. For the first three students, faculty will receive $4,500 total and an additional $300 for each additional student up to a maximum of eight.

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In the past, the review process required students to prepare detailed applications and was criticized as a result, the URC wrote.

“Early February deadlines sometimes forced underprepared students to submit proposals prematurely,” the URC wrote. “Early deadlines frequently forced faculty to invest heavily in aiding underprepared students to develop meaningful proposals.”

While the Feb. 15 application deadline and March 4 notification date will remain approximately the same, the application process has been simplified and consolidated into a system called Slate, the same program that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions uses, the URC wrote.

Students will still present their findings at the A&S Student Symposium in the spring of 2023, but this revised application process gives students enough time to identify what they are passionate about, Brandenberger said. 

“We’re interested in a short statement about what they plan to do, but we’re not asking for the colossal level of detail we used to,” he said. “We’re listening to the faculty members who are doing the mentoring and supervising, and they said that it’s much more productive to put all that information together later in the semester.”

Unlike previous years, students participating in research will now be able to choose different lengths of housing ranging from five to 10 weeks, according to the URSF website.

"This policy will create an easier way for students to live, create more opportunities for more students, and make their day-to-day life a little bit more convenient as well," Palazzolo said.

Students who wish to conduct research, but are unsure of where to start, should identify a potential mentor and make contact with them, Brandenberger said.

The School of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowships can serve all students well, regardless of what they want to do, Schuyler said.  

“I ultimately became a historian because of a great research project that I did as an undergraduate,” she said. “I never knew that I loved research so much until I got into the archives.” 

Contact news writer Mado Long at mado.long@richmond.edu. 

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