Undergraduate assistantship availability postponed

By Gus Bode

Approved positions to be posted the second week of school, at earliest

Factoid:For more information and updates on assistantship positions, visit the Financial Aid website at www.siuc.edu/~fao/jobs/undergradassist

A larger-than-anticipated volume of undergraduate assistantship applications from University departments and colleges will postpone students from applying for approved positions until the second week of school.

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Daniel Mann, director of the Financial Aid Office, said the committee formed to review and approve all assistantship requests initially hoped to have the jobs posted on the Financial Aid website the first week of school. But with 479 undergraduate assistantship applications submitted, Mann said the committee wants to review each position carefully and fairly.

“This is a brand new program, and we really didn’t know what to expect,” Mann said. “But after seeing how many applications came in, we thought we should use more time to review all the applications.”

Ann Acton, chair of the review committee and associate director of the Financial Aid Office, said she and the other seven committee members reviewed all the assistantships during the weekend, specially ranking them before meeting again Wednesday.

“Each position request will be ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, and then [each committee member’s] rankings will be combined for a total overall ranking,” Acton said. “Then we will look at them in descending order, starting with the ones that have the top rankings, of course, moving down until we have no more funding available.”

Acton said a major challenge for the committee is picking from a large group of justifiable assistantship positions. She said there is no doubt that the committee, which includes two college deans, two faculty members, a member of the graduate school, the Undergraduate Student Government president and the Graduate Professional Student Council president, will be unable to grant funding to several positions because of monetary restrictions.

Chancellor Walter Wendler has allocated $750,000 from the $8.5 million generated from tuition increase for the new program. That amount is not enough to fund all applications submitted to the committee.

“If we were able to fund them all, we have applications totaling $2,481,600,” Acton said. “We can’t tell how many we will have until we get to the end, but probably between 100 to 125 applications will receive funding – that means a lot of good ones will have to fall to the wayside.”

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Mann said assistantship applications came from all parts of the University, with about half requesting 20-hour positions paying $800 per month and the rest including 10-hour positions paying $400 per month and 15-hour positions paying $600 per month. He said the largest challenge for the committee is to balance needed assistantships across all areas of the campus.

Patty Cosgrove, an assistant director for the Information Technology Department, said the lab area alone applied for 6 assistantships, all 20-hour positions, to lead an IT Network Engineering Team.

Supervised by Jerry Richards, IT Central Campus LAN Administrator, Cosgrove said the team will provide technical support for all campus units, performing duties including hardware and software installation, setting up and configuring new computers within offices and dealing with security issues such as computer virus problem solving.

Like many other assistantship applications from colleges and University departments, Cosgrove said this team not only provides experience for undergraduates, but also is new and needed on campus.

“We do not have a team that does on-site technical support,” she said. “It is a big hole on campus that needs to be filled.”

Mann said the committee plans to meet Friday as well to finalize their decisions and post the available positions as early as the following Monday on its website.

He said he noticed how excited the departments and students are about the assistantships from the high volume of applications and undergraduate inquires about positions.

“We have tried to implement this in a very short time period, and as we go through this, we will be looking at how we want to do this for next year to make the process a little smoother for both the departments and for students,” Mann said.

Reporter Samantha Edmondson can be reached at [email protected]

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