$4.4 Million Federal Grant Awarded to Support Graduate Students

U.S. Department of Education funding will help underwrite 120 new fellowships in Native American Studies and STEM fields

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The U.S. Department of Education has awarded UCR more than $4.4 million for graduate student fellowships under the 2015 Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need program.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – UC Riverside has been awarded more than $4.4 million by the U.S. Department of Education to support graduate student fellowships. The university received five individual grants collectively accounting for more than 6 percent of the $29 million the Department of Education awarded under the 2015 Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN).

When combined with “matching” funds from the UCR Graduate Division, the three-year grants could increase the number of graduate student fellowships at UCR by as many as 120 in the areas of Native American studies, botany and plant science, biological science, mechanical engineering, and computer science, said Joseph W. Childers, dean of the Graduate Division.

GAANN is a needs-based fellowship program designed to help support domestic and permanent-resident graduate students who intend to pursue a terminal degree – typically a Ph.D. – in an area of national need, primarily in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields. This year, the Department of Education also accepted applications in some humanities and social sciences disciplines.

“These awards are especially important to UCR since they align with our goal to expand the diversity of our graduate student population to reflect the diversity of our undergraduate population,” Childers said.   “Since 2008 the number of graduate students who identify as members of under-represented populations pursuing advanced degrees has increased nearly 8 percent to approximately 22 percent of the total population of domestic students at UCR who are pursuing a Ph.D.”

Campus researchers submitted a total of 18 proposals, underscoring the importance of diversity recruitment in their graduate programs and the university’s commitment to becoming a destination campus for those seeking a diverse graduate community, Childers added.

Five of those proposals were accepted, and all received the full amount requested, a rarity in the history of the fellowship program, he said. The average award was $285,278 per year for three years. The fellowships will provide tuition of up to $15,213 and a stipend of up to $34,000 per fellow.

This is the first time UCR has been awarded five GAANN grants in one competition. Each grant funds six fellows. For every three GAANN fellows funded by the Department of Education, the Graduate Division will support one more. Childers said he plans to create a Society of GAANN Fellows on campus that will provide fellows with professional and supplemental training, such as communications skills and presentation of research papers.

Childers said funding fellowships in Native American Studies is especially significant because growing that program is a priority for the university. Unlike STEM fields, where research grants typically support graduate student fellowships, funding for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences is less plentiful. Graduate students in those fields typically rely on teaching assistant positions to support their degree programs. The GAANN fellowships will enable them to finish their degrees sooner, he said.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for people in Native American studies,” said Clifford E. Trafzer, distinguished professor of history and holder of the Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs. “Often people in this field are more disadvantaged economically. The GAANN fellowships will support these students and encourage top students to study at UCR. It will be a good recruiting tool.”

The GAANN grant and matching funds from the Graduate Division will support eight graduate students in Native American Studies each year for the next three years. UCR is one of the few universities in the U.S. to offer a Ph.D. in Native American history. The university also offers a Ph.D. in fields of study related to Native American music, dance, anthropology, literature, and ethnic studies.

Native American Studies provides excellent preparation for careers in tribal administration, human services, museum curatorship, library sciences, teaching, journalism, scholarship, law, health and inter-ethnic relations, Trafzer explained.

“UCR is known as the premiere university in the field in Native American Studies,” he added. “This grant speaks to our academic standing within the U.S. and the world in Native American Studies. It speaks to the program we have built here in different fields and disciplines, and our success in graduating good people. It speaks to our past, our present, and our future.”

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
E-mail: bettye.miller@ucr.edu
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Additional Contacts

Joseph Childers, dean of the Graduate Division
Tel: (951) 827-4302
E-mail: joseph.childers@ucr.edu

Michael Pazzani, vice chancellor for research & economic development
Tel: (951) 827-4800
E-mail: michael.pazzani@ucr.edu

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