Gateway combines conference funds

Career Education and the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, which previously had separate funds for students attending conferences, combined those funds into URSCA’s budget, according to Director of Career Education Jim Fitch.

Fitch said the goal of consolidating the funds was to make access easier for students. Previously, students had to go to URSCA to fund part of the cost and Career Education to fund the other.

It was something that makes life easier for students

— Terry Bensel

“Students won’t be pinballing around as much as they were,” Fitch said.

According to Terry Bensel, associate provost and director of the Gateway, URSCA funds covered costs such as conference registration, while Career Education covered the cost of transportation.

“It really didn’t make any sense to go to two different offices to get funds for essentially the same thing,” Bensel said.

Associate Professor of Psychology and URSCA Director Aimee Knupsky said URSCA received two endowed funds from the provost’s office last year. The two funds combined allow the office to distribute approximately $5,000 annually.

Knupsky said those funds were supplemented by a $5,000 donation from an alumnus. Combined with Career Education’s funds designated for conferences, the office has approximately $20,000 to support students who wish to attend such events this academic year.

In the past, students had to request reimbursements for costs incurred during conferences, according to Knupsky. Beginning in the summer of 2016, students traveling to conferences receive a “Gateway Award,” meaning students would receive funds requested from the office up front.

The application, available on URSCA’s website, requires students to submit an estimated budget. Students presenting at professional conferences can receive a maximum of $500, while students attending undergraduate conferences or not presenting at the conference can receive up to $200.

Knupsky said URSCA plans on making half of its funds available for conferences each semester.

Bensel said the movement of conference funds to URSCA is the first step in an attempt to make the Gateway’s funds more readily accessible to students.

“It was something that makes life easier for students,” Bensel said.

Knupsky said the idea of making the funds accessible through one application was first conceived during the last academic year.

According to Bensel, the Gateway is working on an application students can submit to apply for funding through the Gateway as a whole, rather than through each of its individual offices. Bensel said a “prototype” of that application has been completed, but the office is finalizing internal processes to determine what funds the financial support would come from.

Bensel said a complication of having a program in which the office determines what funds are appropriate for each application is that many sources of funding are constrained by donor requests. The Gateway hopes to have this application finalized by the end of the fall 2016 semester.