Graduate scholarship office lacks experience
By John Mitchell
Published on Wednesday, January 12, 2005
As the application deadlines for many grants approach, the scholarship advising office remains in turmoil after the departure of former Scholarship Adviser Marilyn Grundy. Although many students are happy to see Grundy go, her exit leaves the office without an experienced staff.
According to Assistant Dean of the College Mary Liscinsky, Grundy left to pursue graduate study. Some students, however, have speculated that the former Scholarship Adviser was fired as a result of her performance on the job in an office that, they say, lacks the organization and responsiveness to oversee 200 graduate fellowship applications annually.
"Her job was just too big for one person ... she did not know my file in depth," Welton Chang '05 said of his experience with the office.
According to Cortelyou Kenney '05, Grundy was "a total space cadet ... really incompetent."
Kenney had planned to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship, but after Grundy did not respond for two months with suggestions on her application, Kenney decided not to compete for the honor, she said.
Student complaints may help to explain Dartmouth's performance in recent high-profile scholarship competitions. During the last three years, Harvard students have won 14 American Rhodes Scholarships; one Dartmouth student received the same honor.
The scholarship advising office, which consists of two employees, only one of whom is full-time, is still experiencing difficulties since Grundy left. Kristin O'Rourke, the new scholarship adviser, said she is "not quite up to speed" on the workings of the office yet. Corey Hall, her part-time counterpart, expressed a similar lack of confidence.
O'Rourke began work two weeks ago, while Hall has worked in the office for roughly two months.
O'Rourke described the scholarship advising office as an intermediary between students applying to scholarship programs and the Committee on Graduate Fellowships. The scholarship advising office submits applications to the committee and forwards the committee's recommendations to individual scholarship offices.
The Committee on Graduate Fellowships, however, seems to fill the void left by the scholarship advising office's limited role. Committee chair Dorothy Wallace said the committee has served varying purposes in the different application processes. In general, its responsibilities include writing letters of support for applicants "similar to composite letters for medical school" and choosing "who gets awards and how much they get from a pool of money available."
"We are advocates for the students applying for the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships," history professor and committee member David Lagomarsino said. "The idea is to give as much support as possible."
Students receive feedback from the committee through interviews and essay review, Lagomarsino said.
The committee also includes a supportive cover letter emphasizing the highlights of the application before sending application materials to either the Rhodes or Marshall Scholarship office.
The committee additionally oversees several grants and loans of Dartmouth money, including Dartmouth's general fellowships.
The committee's opinion of the individual applicants holds a great deal of weight during the competition for these prizes.
Awarded in the spring, these scholarships are based on financial need and academic merit and are doled out at the committee's discretion, although the awards usually do not exceed $3,000.
The combined intention of the scholarship advising office and the Committee on Graduate Fellowships is to increase the competitive edge of Dartmouth applicants in the contest for these coveted prizes.