Select Page

Supplemental Block Grants to Rackham Programs to Support Ph.D. Student Engagement in Fall 2020 Curricular Development

Rackham Graduate School has introduced a new funding initiative to help departments address the challenges of remote and hybrid instruction for fall 2020. Rackham seeks to support this crucial curricular work by offering supplemental block grant funding to departments that will provide summer support for teams of up to three doctoral students. These students will be hired as temporary employees to collaborate with departmental faculty in preparing instructional resources for effective teaching and learning across a range of modalities consistent with individual departmental needs and the recommendations of the provost’s planning committees for fall 2020 instruction. Awards will consist of up to $4,000 per student.


The goals of this funding initiative are to address departmental needs for fall 2020 instruction, create opportunities for doctoral students to engage in professional development around online or hybrid teaching and pedagogy, and provide summer support to those students.

All departments and programs with Rackham students are encouraged to apply. The application is brief and the fund rate is expected to be high. The level of undergraduate enrollment will be one factor in determining the number of positions funded for each department.

Employee Expectations

Selected departments will have significant flexibility and discretion with regard to hiring, placement, and supervision of temporary summer employees.

However, candidates selected should be doctoral students who are in good academic standing and have experience with online teaching and remote learning platforms.

Suitable Responsibilities

Graduate students hired in this capacity will be expected to engage in some of the following activities:

  • Assist faculty with adapting course content from classroom to online environments
  • Support faculty in developing high-quality remote instructional practices
  • Explore optimal online delivery platforms for remote instruction
  • Research established high-engagement practices for online instruction
  • Help develop innovative approaches to remote teaching and learning
  • Be employed from July 1 through August 28, 2020

Prohibited Activities

Summer temporary employees will not be allowed to:

  • Engage in any teaching
  • Coordinate, lead, or assist in the instructional process or direct content delivery with undergraduate students
  • Direct any undergraduate students
  • Offer any office hours
  • Provide any tutoring to undergraduate students
  • Interface or interact directly with students receiving faculty instruction
  • Conduct research based on their own degree program
  • Fulfill any degree requirements through this temporary employment
  • Be employed beyond August 28, 2020

Application and Selection Process

To be considered for funding, interested departments will provide a brief summary of the project (approximately 250 words) that includes:

  • The curricular goal motivating the project
  • The planned strategy to achieve the goal
  • The role(s) that the requested graduate student temporary employee(s) will play in this project
  • The mechanism by which graduate student temporary employees will be selected, and
  • The structure and mode that the faculty lead(s) will employ to identify and select the graduate student temporary employee(s) and provide hands-on supervision

Departments must name one or more faculty leads in the application and provide a justification for the number of graduate student temporary employees requested.

Applications must be submitted by the departmental chair, graduate program chair, or director of graduate studies to establish departmental endorsement and oversight of the program.

Applications are due Monday, June 22, 2020. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and every application received within the submission window will be considered. All funding decisions will be made and communicated by Friday, June 26, 2020.

Rackham anticipates allocating funding to support up to 100 temporary graduate student employee positions.

Questions? Please contact Rackham Assistant Dean Ethriam Brammer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do programs and departments have to identify and select the temporary employees before applying for Rackham funding?
No, awarded departments must broadly advertise these temporary employment opportunities across campus after receiving funding approval from Rackham.
What is the pay rate for temporary employees hired through this funding opportunity?
All temporary employees hired through this initiative must be compensated at a rate of exactly $25 per hour.
Do all temporary employees funded through this opportunity have to work on the same course or with the same faculty member?
No, awarded departments best understand their own needs in order to prepare for fall 2020 instruction and, therefore, have broad discretion regarding what courses temporary employees hired through this initiative will work on and with whom.
Can temporary employees funded through this opportunity continue to work in this capacity through the fall semester if the awarded department still has available funds from this award?
No, the end date for employment for all those hired through this initiative must not extend beyond August 28, 2020.
Can funds granted through this opportunity be reallocated by the awarded department into a greater number of reduced temporary, partial appointments?
Yes, at their discretion, awarded departments may divide these awards into smaller appointments (i.e., two 10 hour per week [0.25 FTE] positions) in order to better address their own identified departmental needs.
Is there a sample job description for posting temporary positions supported by this funding opportunity?
Yes, download the sample Rackham template for positions created through this initiative.