Petition for a Just Implementation of Notre Dame’s New Graduate Stipend Funding Structure
In the fall of 2014, Notre Dame’s administration announced its intention to restructure incoming graduate students’ funding packages, and to require departments to formally implement a much stricter timeline from admittance to completion than had previously been enforced. The reasoning given for this decision was that the administration feels that: (1) Notre Dame graduate students have on average spent too much time in their PhD programs (thus using up resources that could be spent recruiting and funding additional grad students), (2) students who eventually drop out of the grad school often don’t do so until they are well into their program (again, using up funds that Notre Dame doesn’t see as a worthwhile investment), and (3) an increasing number of graduate schools throughout the country are moving toward an accelerated PhD-timeline as a result of competitive job markets and increased difficulty in recruitment due to a larger, more competitive applicant pool.

We have received conflicting information about all of the proposed changes over the past year and a half, and have not been given clear, official details about the plan and its implementation. We acknowledge that the administration has the authority to make such decisions and we do not specifically take issue with the goals set out here, nor with the vision they express. Rather, we are deeply worried that the implementation of the new funding structure and timeline is unduly burdensome to those students who started their programs before these changes were communicated and may now find themselves under constraints they could not have reasonably foreseen when they accepted Notre Dame’s offer. Current graduate students and their advisers designed their timeline to completion based on the expectation that the funding structure would remain the same as in the past. If these students are compelled to accept the new funding structure, their work and ultimately their job prospects are likely to be adversely affected. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the precise impact of the new structure, since details remain unacceptably vague. For example, students currently in their fifth year have been told that they may need to apply for special funds to finish their PhD, and that they would need letters explaining why an “exception” should be made in their case. The lack of clarity and absence of reasonable prior notice about the proposed changes -- especially when combined with the looming possibility of reduced funds and the failure of any financial or other support that would offset the disadvantages facing students under the current proposal -- are among our most pressing concerns. We offer the following suggestions as a good first step toward addressing them:

Give a clear, public explanation of the changes, when they'd be implemented, and what mechanism interested parties can use to communicate questions and concerns with the dean’s office about these changes.

Guarantee students funding that, minimally, is in accord with what was the norm in their department when they were recruited and accepted their offers.

We ask the administration to see that the absence of transparency with regard to the proposed changes puts undue stress and anxiety on a population that is already heavily burdened and dependent on the support and encouragement of the institutions its members have selected as their academic home. We ask that you help minimize these pressures, and do right by the graduate students that you recruited and promised to support. We appreciate the administration’s hard work and support, and look forward to efficient discussion and collaboration on this issue.

Sincerely,

Benjamin Rossi, Philosophy
Paul Blaschko, Philosophy
Peter Finocchiaro, Philosophy
Jude Galbraith, HPS
Luke Riel, Philosophy
Jordan Rodgers, Philosophy
Robert McFadden, PhD in Literature
Sara Morrow, Anthropology
Liz Jackson, Philosophy
Joao Santos, Mathematics
Evan Claudeanos, Philosophy
Andrew Klein, English
Caitlin Smith, English
Andrew Brenner, Philosophy
Mousa Mohammadian, HPS
Justin Christy, Philosophy
Fr. Raphael Mary Salzillo, OP, Philosophy
Rachel Jonker, Philosophy
Jamee Elder, HPS
Ting Cho Lau, Philosophy
Daniel Immerman, Philosophy
Patricia Blanchette, Philosophy
Amanda Bohne, English
Courtney Smotherman, Ph.D. in Literature
Paul Weithman, Philosophy
Anna Siebach Larsen, Medieval Studies
Graham Clay, Philosophy
Marjorie Harrington, English
Mark Roosien, Theology / PhD
Allison Murphy, Philosophy
Holly Levin-Aspenson, Psychology
Amy Seymour, Philosophy Department (Alum)
Xavi Lanao, Philosophy
Dimitris Apostolopoulos, Philosophy
Hannah Zdansky, Ph.D. in Literature
Robby Gustin, Philosophy
Eric Hagedorn, Philosophy (Asst. Prof. St. Norbert's)
Cesar Lopes Gemelli, PhD in Literature
Mark Puestohl, Philosophy
Mae Kilker, Medieval Institute
Michael Rauschenbach, Philosophy
Deborah Forteza, Literature
Anna de Bakker, Medieval Institute
Richard Fahey, English
Jack Himelright, Philosophy
Roberto De La Noval, Theology
Michael Rea, Philosophy
David Squires, Philosophy
Matteo Bianchetti, Philosophy
Mallika Sarma, Anthropology
Joel Schmidt, Medicine
John Hanson, HPS
William Smith, Philosophy
Chloe Uffenheimer, Philosophy
Pablo Ruiz de Olano, HPS
Callie Phillips, Philosophy
John Marchese, Ph.D. in Literature
Emily Biffis, Romance Languages and Literatures
Margaret (Pegg) Garvey, PhD in Literature
Nevin Climenhaga, Philosophy
Cesar Soto, English
Katie Comeau, Sociology
Martin Sastri, Medieval Institute
Rachel Hanks, English
Jeff Tolly, Philosophy
Megan Welton, Medieval Institute
Brian Long, Medieval Institute
Belen Vicens, History
Jordan Corwin, Philosophy
Catherine Brix, Ph.D. in Literature
Sarah Schramm, Philosophy
Monica Solomon, Philosophy
Margaret Schmitt, Philosophy
Tobias Flattery, Philosophy
Bryant Vande Kolk, Physics
Sebastián Murgueitio, HPS
Mic Detlefsen, Dept of Philosophy
Fred Rush, Philosophy
Mette Evelyn Bjerre, Sociology
Bradley Rettler, Ph.D in Philosophy
Kenneth Boyce, Philosophy Department (Alum)
Robert Garcia, Texas A&M Philosophy
Andrew M. Bailey, Philosophy
Stephanie Larew, Psychology
Dana Townsend, Psychology & Peace Studies
Katherine Bermingham, Political Science
Valeria Canelas, Literature
Fernando Bizzarro, Political Science
Emily Maiden, Political Science & Peace Studies
John Lindblom, Theology
Alejandro Castrillon, Political Science
Judith Biesen, Psychology
Gabriella Jiang, Psychology
Amanda Nowak, Psychology
Enmanuelle Pardilla-Delgado, Psychology
Sid Simpson, Political Science
Mengyu Gao, Psychology
Julaine Zenk, Psychology
Emily Vanderbleek, Psychology
Tony Cunningham, Psychology
Scott Hagaman, Philosophy
David Everson, Sociology
Hilary Davidson, Sociology
Jonathan Gondelman, Political Science
Kathryn Sawyer, History
Stefanie Israel, Sociology
Hallie Nuzum, Psychology
Bry Martin, History
Caroline Hornburg, Psychology
Maxwell Bullard, Psychology
Maryann Kwakwa, Political Science
Michael Rubbelke, Theology
Joseph Pauszek, Psychology
Bocchia Pietro, Literature
Ashley Edewaard, Theology
Xia Allen, Psychology
Patrick Miller, Psychology
Breanna Nickel, Theology
Cara Aspesi, Theology
Jonathan Riddle, History
Michele Stanbury, Medieval Institute
Lorenzo Dell'Oso, Literature
Elisabetta Drudi, Literature
Christopher Menzel, Philosophy, Texas A&M University (Notre Dame PhD)
Christopher Menzel, Philosophy, Texas A&M University (Notre Dame PhD)
Anuchka Ramos-Ruiz, PhD Literature
Aurelio Valarezo-Duenas, History

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