Graduate Student Council

Web Bulletin Board


The current salary of graduate student teaching assistants at U.T. Dallas is just above the poverty level for an individual. Add a spouse or a child and the income is immediately below threshold. Since family medical costs are not covered by the University, opting for full family medical coverage can cut take home pay in half.

This policy discriminates against graduate students with families. The effect is that many choose to postpone having children until after their prime child bearing years. The costs to both society and the graduate students as individuals can be inferred.

Given the number of years students will spend in graduate school, UTD should consider adopting a more family friendly pay and benefits package. How much is reasonable? The current pay for a UTD teaching assistant is about half of what graduate students at U.T. Southwestern receive and a third of what external granting agencies will provide for annual living expenses.

David Wallace Croft
UTD Graduate Student

Activity for Year 2003

Valentine's Day Bake Sale

Peace Dance

Increase Community Service

GSC Elections

Working with other Graduate Organizations on campus

Library Committee

Meeting with Dr. Jenifer

Dance plan for the Fall

Continued monthly meeting to get the concerns of graduate students

Activity for Year 2002

One World Cultural Ball

Library Proposals

Things in Committee 2001

TA/RA Issues



Activity for the Year 2000


Dr. Franklyn Jenifer
President: The University of Texas at Dallas

Dear President Jenifer, I Attached is a petition that has been drafted by the Graduate Student Council. The signed support of over 325 graduate students from throughout The University of Texas at Dallas as well as verbal support from many faculty members and the Student Government Association identify the issues addressed in the petition as important. The elected representatives of the Graduate Student Council would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and the Deans of the seven schools within the university to discuss the issues mentioned and relate the concerns of the graduate student community at UTD. You may contact Carson Harrod, President: Graduate Student Council (extension 2524 or mailroom FO 3. 1) if you are willing to schedule a meeting.

Carson Harrod

cc. Dr. Hobson Wildenthal
Dr. Austin Cunningham
Dr. Richard Caldwell
Dr. George Fair
Dr. Rita Mae Kelly
Dr. Dennis Kratz
Dr. Bert Moore
Dr. William Osborne
Dr. Hasan Pirkul

Petition from the Graduate Students of The University of Texas at Dallas

We, the undersigned graduate students of The University of Texas at Dallas, would like to express our concerns about the financial dilemma that exists for stipended graduate students at UTD. The current stipend levels are not adequate to provide a living that is above the poverty line. In the last five years, tuition has increased over 60%, the cost of living in North Dallas has increased significantly, the teaching load has increased, and yet there has been no corresponding increase in stipends. The increased teaching load decreases the amount of time available for research as well as the progress of our graduate studies which is a major concern since the advent of the 100 hour rule.

The current financial situation is unacceptable and we are calling on the University and the Texas State Legislature to provide a remedy. According to President Jenifer, "If the University wants the best it has to pay for it." This reasoning clearly applies to attracting and retaining graduate students, as well as faculty and administration. Graduate students contribute significantly to the teaching quality provided by LTID to its undergraduates as well as contributing to the research here at UTD. The quality of the University is directly related to the quality of its graduate students. The present stipend levels are not competitive with other leading universities. As a result, current and prospective graduate students are deciding to go elsewhere.

To address the above issues, we are asking that the annual stipend levels be raised for graduate student employees.

We are also petitioning the UTD administration and the Texas Legislature to provide tuition waivers or reimbursements to graduate student employees, The graduate students of LTM request an immediate dialogue on these issues and that action be taken to resolve them.
February 2000

To: Dennis Kratz, Dean, School of Arts and Humanities
William Osborne, Dean, Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science
George Fair, Dean, School of General Studies
Bert Moore, Dean, School of Human Development Hasan Pirkul, Dean, School of Management
Richard Caldwell, Dean, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Rita Mae Kelly, Dean, School of Social Sciences
Austin Cunningham, Dean, Graduate Studies
Darrelene Rachavong, Dean of Students

From: Hobson Wildenthal, Executive Vice President and Provost

Date February 21, 2000

Subject: TA/RA appointments and stipends

Attached is a draft of a statement on policies and practices for appointing and compensating graduate assistants that President Jenifer requested me to prepare for our consideration. Please review this draft, discuss it with all appropriate parties, and return to me any and all suggestions for revisions, omissions, and additions.

Regarding an associated but temporally coincidental matter, I attach also a list, provided to me by Dean Cunningham, of doctoral students in your school who are near to or in excess of enrollment in 99 doctoral hours. Please inform me of which of these students currently hold Teaching Assistantships and which of them you expect to recommend for reappointment to Teaching Assistantships for next Fall.

Priscilla Beadle, Vice Provost
John Wiorkowski, Associate Provost
Mary Evans Sias, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs and External Relations Robert Lovitt, Senior Vice President for Business Affairs

Appointments and Compensation of Teaching and Research Assistants

Graduate Student Teaching Assistantships are budgeted ftom state-appropriated Faculty Salary funds and are construed as 50 % FTE employment positions in instruction or instructional support.

Graduate Student Research Assistantships are budgetedftom sponsored-research or private-fund accounts and are construed as 50% FTE employment positions in research, with duties so defined as to support the attainment of the goals designated by the pertinentfunding source.

Graduate Student Scholarships are financial awards that cany no obligation for performance of employment duties, but that can require the pursuit of a specified program of graduate study.

1. The minimum stipend level for Teaching and Research Assistantships at UTD for FY 2000-2001 will be $ 1 000/month. Individual academic units may set stipend levels higher than this minimum, based on such criteria as exceptional individual qualifications, progress toward the doctorate, market conditions, or extraordinary productivity.

2. In addition, Teaching and Research Assistants who:
a. have qualified for doctoral funding (Masters degree or 30 graduate credit hours, and admission into a doctoral program); - '
b. have achieved satisfactory academic progress toward the degree in terms of credit hour enrollment and grades during the previous semester, and
c. have not exceeded the 99-hour cap on total doctoral credit hours,
will receive $500 per semester scholarships, to be counted against tuition and fees charges, at the start of each semester.

2. In years following FY 2000-2001, the various TA/RA stipend levels will be incremented, at a minimum, by the same percentage as that set for the general faculty merit salary-increment pool. In addition, funding permitting, the fraction of tuition and fees covered by scholarship awards will be increased.

3. A graduate student classified at the Masters level (not yet qualified for doctoral funding) may not be appointed to a Teaching Assistantship for more than four semesters. A student qualified for doctoral funding may not be appointed to a Teaching Assistantship for more than 12 additional semesters, or a total of 16 semesters at UTD, including Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. The appointments of graduate students to Research Assistantships funded from non- state accounts are at the discretion of the Principal Investigator or academic administrator in charge of the restricted-funds budget from which the RA stipend is to be paid, and there is, accordingly, no limit on the number of semesters of appointment.

4. Graduate students enrolling for Fall 2000 and later semesters will not be appointed to Teaching Assistantships after they have accumulated more than 99 doctoral credit hours at Texas public universities. In addition, all such graduate students will be subject to the payment of tuition at non-Texas-resident rates after they have accumulated more than 99 doctoral credit hours at Texas public universities. These restrictions reflect legislative, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and The University of Texas System Regents regulations and policies.

5. The Dean of the School is responsible, directly and through designated subordinates, for setting specific stipend levels for Teaching Assistantships, appointing individual TA's, specifying and assigning their duties, evaluating their performances and monitoring their progress toward graduation, consistent with these general guidelines. These stipend levels, duty assignments and evaluation processes will be communicated in a timely and comprehensive fashion to the Dean of Graduate Studies to allow oversight for equity and consistency between different components of the university.

6. Faculty will not be granted workload credit for Dissertation supervision and other independent study instruction of graduate students who have recorded doctoral credit hours in excess of the 99-hour limit.

Some thoughts on Graduate Student Teaching and Research Assistanishipsfor Adninistrators and Students:

The matrix of stipends for Teaching and Research Assistants should be designed to reinforce good performance, but should balance flexibility with simplicity. At the least, stipends for students who have qualified for doctoral funding should be higher than for students who have not been qualified. A third, still higher level might be set for students who have satisfied all early requirements for progress toward the doctorate. Any further complexity in the financial support of Teaching Assistants should be provided in terms of special scholarships, where such funding is available, and in terms of supplemental compensation for exceptional productivity, such as when a graduate student replaces a faculty member as instructor of record in an organized class.

Each unit employing Teaching Assistants is responsible for developing clear descriptions of the duties required of students employed in these positions, descriptions that are detailed and specific enough to make meaningful evaluation of performance feasible and that permit external evaluation of the approximate equity of the workloads associated with the dfferent varieties of duties assigned. As with stipend levels, the number of position descriptions in a given unit should balance the virtues of completeness and accuracy with economy and simplicity. These generic job descriptions should be filed with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Each Teaching Assistant should be provided with the appropriate job description prior to commencing each semester of appointment and clear information regarding supervising authority and the criteria and structure of how performance will be evaluated.

As 50% FTE positions, Graduate Assistantships cannot be expected to provide an individual with more than 50% of the compensation that could be expected from 100% FTE employment at comparable levels of skill, experience, and educational attainment. Instruction, and, to a lesser degree, support of instruction, are only fractionally time-clock-amenable professions. What is necessary most essentially for adequate performance in these jobs is a level of knowledge and preparation sufficient to convey knowledge to the student, or to evaluate the student's performance, effectively. The time required for different individuals to reach these levels of sufficiency varies widely by individual.

That being acknowledged, the definition of a 50% FTE position remains that the holder of the position is expected to devote approximately an average of 20 hours per week of exclusive effort to the job. Assignments for TA's should be carefidly designed and monitored to ensure that, on average, this level of effort is being expended, but not exceeded, both collectively and individually. Equity for TA's as a group is important, along with equity individual by individual. In order to ensure that equity is maintained over the spectrum of assignments and supervisors that Teaching Assistants experience, all academic units should carefully develop job descriptions for each type of assignment given to TA's and develop policies and instructions by which supervisors monitor, evaluate, and report on the performance of TA's in these assignments.

Teaching Assistantships are integrally linked to graduate study in the appropriately linked academic field. Teaching Assistantships are designed and intended to provide pgg:ial financial support in return for services rendered for graduate students as they pursue their graduate studies, in employment settings that are synergistic with and supportive of these studies. The goal of a graduate student holding a Teaching Assistantship should be to progress as rapidly as possible to graduation with the desired advanced academic degree and thereupon to commence full-time employment as a credentialed professional. Graduate students holding Teaching Assistantships and admitted to doctoral study are expected to obtain at least nine hours of academic credit each long semester and at least six hours during the summer semester. Graduate students holding Teaching Assistantships who have not been admitted to doctoral study are expected to meet credit hour enrollment requirements set by their School or Department, these requirements being higher in some cases than those for doctoral students. Maintaining a satisfactory level of progress toward the degree Will be an important criterion in a student's reappointment to a Teaching Assistantship.

The combination of expeditious pursuit of the appropriate graduate degree and the adequate performance of properly specified Teaching or Research Assistantship duties is defined to be one of 100% effort. These are both professional pursuits, and as suck 100% effort is not to be measured in terms of hours, overtime, etc., but simply in terms of giving 100% effort to the combination of these two linked appointments. It follows that additional employment with the university or with an outside agency is incompatible with appointment to Teaching or Research Assistantship, and is a violation of the conditions of such an appointment. A graduate student certainly may pursue graduate studies while employed as a lecturer at UTD and/or at other institutions, or while employed outside of academe, but must not expect to combine such employment with a Teaching or Research Assistantship.

Satisfactory progress toward the doctorate by Teaching and Research Assistants is fundamentally and crucially important both for the student and the university. Such satisfactory progress is a responsibility that must be shared mutually by the student, the supervising professor, and the administration of the academic unit. During academic advisement at the beginning of the first semester of appointment, each Teaching Assistant, together with the appropriate academic advisor, should develop a complete plan of study leading to the doctorate, incorporating organized courses to be taken, the scheduling of these courses, required general exams to be taken, the content and scheduling of these exams, and the expected date of commencing dissertation work, such date of commencement allowing for at least six semesters for the completion of such work and the entire plan being consistent with the time limits on Teaching Assistant appointments. These plans should be -filed with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies during the first semester of appointment, and annual updates filed each following Fall Semester.