URSA finds funding for fellowships

Following unexpected budgetary issues, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity has now obtained the necessary funds to offer Research Scholar Fellowships for this academic year.

David Eaton, an URSA board member, said there were multiple signals at the beginning of the school year that money was going to be tight for fellowships.

He said although the $19,000 budget URSA is allotted for the year was left untouched, as of Tuesday it had yet to receive the additional funding from the Provost Office it requires to offer research fellowships.

In past years, the research fellowships awarded by URSA have been worth approximately $2,000 each: $1,500 in stipend money and $500 for supplies a student may require for their work.

This year, URSA will be offering three $1,000 research fellowships with an accompanying $500 supply budget to each recipient.

Jody Cofer, program coordinator of URSA, said typically the office can expect anywhere from 12-25 research fellowship applications.

He said the number of participants vary from year to year and it affects funding.

As uncertainty about funding loomed last week, URSA issued a release which said the Sept. 5 deadline for research fellowship applications was being moved back as options were explored.

“To put it bluntly,” Cofer said, “we give out money and we give out resources to enable students and mentors to go out and do these projects. If we don’t have resources then we’re not in business.”

However, on Wednesday, URSA released a new statement which said funding had been found and named the new deadline for submission Sept. 24.

Prior to finding funding, Eaton proposed to the rest of URSA’s board that if additional funding was not found, instead of offering one or two reduced fellowships, they instead offer more grants, which he said could be used around campus.

Cofer thanked Bob Jackson, associate vice president of Institutional Advancement, the Murray State Foundation staff, Provost Jay Morgan and Interim President Tim Miller for aiding URSA in their search for funds.

Although URSA has now secured the money to provide research fellowships again this year, the money is being provided through scholarships, rather than fellowships, in conjunction with the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Scholarships.

Cofer said this could potentially affect a recipient and impact their financial aid situation if the recipient were already at their need level for scholarships.

He said it would bring down the amount which could be awarded to them. Cofer said they will take this into account when they select fellowship recipients.


Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor