Explore Magazine Volume 3 Issue 2



By John V. Lombardi

The Graduate Fellowship Initiative continues the University of Florida's drive to enhance and expand graduate education. Recent endowment gifts, an expanding research enterprise and increased funding from the Florida legislature afford a unique opportunity to recruit outstanding new graduate students with full support packages.

Graduate education is a primary mission of the University of Florida, and the production of master's and doctoral degree graduates represents one of the key contributions a major research university makes to its state.

Critical to the university's academic and research mission, graduate students bring new ideas and insights to the research process. As a result, strong research programs attract the best graduate students. Over the past five years our faculty, staff and students produced tremendous growth in our sponsored research activity. Between FY 1995 and FY 1997, our external research funding increased by 22 percent and royalties and license fees grew by 230 percent. According to the latest data from the National Science Foundation (FY 1996), UF now ranks 12th among public universities (and 20th in the nation) in science and engineering R&D expenditures.

The increasing emphasis on high technology brings with it a critical need for a well-educated, highly skilled workforce.

More than 70 percent of UF's graduate degree recipients remain in Florida after graduation. Our graduate programs supply many of the employees in the high-tech workforce, as well as many creative entrepreneurs who form new high-tech companies. Strong graduate programs not only help retain Florida's "best and the brightest," they also attract talented individuals to the state to help build our economic future.

In Fall 1997, the University of Florida enrolled 7,671 graduate students. We rank 12th among our peer institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU) in total numbers, but at 19 percent our graduate student population as a percentage of the total student population is far below the average for the top 10 AAU public universities (27%), and well below the average for all AAU publics (22%). To remedy this under representation, we mapped out an 8-year plan for graduate enrollment at UF that increases our proportion of graduate students gradually to 26 percent by 2006.

Competition for high-quality graduate students is tougher than ever with today's strong labor market. To meet our enrollment goals we must increase our financial support for graduate students so we can compete against other top research universities. Only 8 percent of our students receive their primary support from fellowships compared to an average of 14 percent of graduate students at the other 31 AAU public universities.

Increasing our level of funding for graduate assistantships and fellowships also will help us attract bright students who would otherwise choose to work in business or industry. The length and cost of a graduate education can discourage many superb potential graduate students. The financial assistance of fellowships and assistantships reduces the cost to a manageable level.

The University of Florida designed the Graduate Fellowship Initiative to meet the competition, expand the graduate program and attract the very best students. The initiative offers four years of support. Some packages may include up to two years of graduate assistantship, and all include payment of tuition and fees plus an award of a nationally competitive stipend.

The university's fellowship opportunities for graduate students include:

* Alumni Graduate Fellowships

* Named Presidential Fellowships

* Graduate School Fellowships

* Graduate Minority Fellowships

* Individual college, department, and program Graduate Fellowships

The University of Florida has the faculty and staff, the research laboratories and libraries, and the support to continue to build the graduate programs the state requires and the university needs.

For more information on this initiative, visit the Graduate Fellowship webpage at www.graduatefellowships.ufl.edu or write: University of Florida, Graduate Fellowship Initiative, Box 115515, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Related web site:
Measuring University Performance: Graduate Growth