New fund supports graduate education students presenting at conferences

Rider’s Department of Graduate Education, Leadership and Counseling increases financial assistance
Keith Fernbach

In an effort to allow students a greater opportunity to share their research on a national stage, Rider University’s Department of Graduate Education, Leadership and Counseling (GELC) has created a new initiative that will provide financial assistance to graduate students who are presenting at professional conferences.

The department has allocated up to $500 per semester for this initiative. The funds will be awarded based on the number of students who apply and are accepted in a given semester.

According to Dr. Christina Peterson, chair of the department, taking a proactive approach to encouraging student participation at conferences is a natural extension of Rider’s mission of preparing students to become leaders in their fields.

“Our faculty emphasizes research and scholarship as core components of graduate-level professional preparation,” she says. “Practitioners in the field need to be aware of current findings in the literature and must be able to evaluate research and conduct their own applied studies in order to maximize their impact on the populations they serve. Although our faculty are prolific in their own research, we felt that we needed a vehicle beyond advising and mentoring through which we could support student research.”

Dr. Bonnie Lehet, a GELC assistant professor and chair of the award committee, says that the program was established as a way to help students gain valuable experience outside of the classroom. “Rider does a very good job of supporting faculty as they present at national conferences and we wanted to extend the same opportunities to our students.”

Lehet adds, “This will give them a chance to share their work in front of a larger audience, and will not only benefit them in their academic and professional pursuits, but will also benefit Rider by showcasing the outstanding scholarship of our graduate students.”

Students who are interested in applying for funding can submit a proposal that includes a budget, the date and location of the conference, the title of their proposed presentation, and a letter from their program director attesting to their professionalism and good academic standing.  

Peterson says that having a standardized process for awarding funds was important so that students in all GELC programs can have equal opportunity. “This provides transparent criteria against which proposals are evaluated and ensures objective assessment in making award decisions,” she says.

The proposals will be evaluated by a cross-program faculty team to ensure objectivity in the decision making process.