20 Chapter VI from the Graduate Programs Handbook of Policies and Procedures for Students and Faculty, Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, August 2001


As a general rule, the department has very few internal means to support graduate students during their studies here. The most important means of modest student support are teaching assistantships and associateships. A few students get research assistantships; others compete for Graduate School Fellowships and Minority Graduate Student Fellowships. Many students find ways to support their studies from sources outside the department, including teaching assistantships in the Writing Program, Women's Studies, Legal Studies, the Inquiry Program, and the Internship Office. A few have developed research assistantships in the Department of Psychology, and others have worked for the University of Massachusetts Archaeological Services in providing contracted survey, curatorial, and cultural resource management services. Some students, as part of a financial aid package, receive work-study support; the department has had some modest success in turning work-study support into assistantships. Finally, several rely on external or personal sources of funding.

A. Tuition Waivers.

The Graduate School grants a waiver of tuition to graduate students who receive any form of fellowship or assistantship support so long as the stipend exceeds a particular minimum, currently $2,500 per semester. This policy extends as well to employment off-campus, when such employment is considered an integral part of the graduate student's educational program. The test of whether such employment is integral to a student's education, according to the Graduate School, is a declaration by the GPD to that effect. So, if you think your work qualifies you for a tuition waiver, check with the GPD, or the Business Manager of the Graduate School.

B. Teaching Assistantships and Associateships.

1. Introduction. 

Teaching assistantships and associateships are not scholarships; rather the graduate student is employed for up to 20 hours per week to assist an instructor in teaching introductory level anthropology courses to undergraduate students. The faculty choose those graduate students who have demonstrated a strong capability to teach well. Teaching assistantships and associateships, of course, provide a graduate student with invaluable professional experience. Students who demonstrate exceptional teaching skill may be appointed as teaching associates who teach their own independent courses under the mentorship of a faculty member. In addition to an annual stipend paid weekly, teaching assistants and associates receive a waiver of tuition.

Students should gain some teaching experience even before applying for assistantships -- for example, by presenting oral class reports, by offering a lecture in one of the introductory courses, or by volunteering to organize a discussion section. In such cases, the student should arrange for the course instructor to evaluate such contributions and to place a written copy of this evaluation in the student's file.

Students desiring graduate teaching assistantships or associateships must apply each academic year whether or not they have held such positions previously. Renewal is in no case considered automatic. As a rule, assistantships and associateships are granted for an academic year, but under special circumstances may be granted for a single semester. The deadline for filing applications is announced by the department chair in the MegaMemo. Application forms are available from the graduate secretary.

Preference is given to students who have been in the program for at least one semester or who have not held assistantships or associateships for an extended period of time. Various factors determine the number of semesters for which assistantships or associateships may be renewed, among them the number of qualified applicants and the number of positions available to the 21 department; the maximum number for several years now has been six semesters. The main consideration in the granting of graduate teaching assistantships and associateships is the quality of undergraduate instruction. Selections are therefore made by the department's Executive Committee on the basis of its estimation of the teaching potential of each applicant. Only written evaluations and other information in the students' files are used in evaluating applicants. Financial need plays no part in the awarding of teaching assistantships and associateships.

All graduate students in good academic standing in the department are eligible to apply for these positions. The department deems it unwise for graduate assistants and associates to elect more than nine credits per semester while holding a full appointment. Further, those on a full appointment are required to be enrolled on a full-time basis (see Chapter V, paragraph E).

2. The Application Process.

a. Application. The departmental chair calls -- at least once and sometimes twice each year -- for applications for teaching assistantships and associateships to commence the following semester. This call appears in the MegaMemo. The graduate secretary has application forms and accepts completed applications.

The student submits a cover letter, a completed application form, teaching inventory, and a current CV. S/he should make sure that her or his file is in order. Complete files should minimally contain: course/teaching evaluations for courses applicants have taught or assisted in teaching at UMASS or elsewhere; current transcript; letters of evaluation of teaching experience and/or of core program courses (as relevant); and copies of publications and other relevant papers.

The student may also wish to include a cover letter as her/his introduction to the Executive Committee; its purpose is to provide information not included elsewhere in the application materials. The letter may contain such items as supplemental areas of study (language, background research, complementary courses outside the department), and fieldwork or other issues which may have affected the rate of progress through the program.

b. Assessment of applications. The department's Executive Committee is responsible for reviewing all application packets and applicants' files and for developing a rank ordering of all applicants, following the guidelines set forth below in sections 3 and 4. The Chair informs each applicant of: 1) her/his point score broken down by category, and 2) rank out of total number of applicants.

c. Assignment to courses. The Chair assigns those on the ranked list to specific courses primarily on the basis of the best match between the needs for instruction and the candidates' qualifications. In making assignments, the Chair considers applicants' preferences and tries to assign individuals so that cumulatively over the duration of their graduate student teaching careers here, they teach across the anthropology curriculum. Those applicants not appointed to teaching positions remain as alternates to be appointed in rank order as positions may become available throughout the academic year.

Additionally, when assigning individuals to teach stand alone courses, the chair normally considers only those who, at the beginning of the appointment, 1) will have a minimum of two semesters of assisting or teaching experience, of which a minimum of one semester of assisting or teaching experience is in this department; and 2) will have taught not more than one stand alone course in this department (this excludes courses taught in 22 other departments and through the Division of Continuing Education). Then the Chair appoints candidates to courses normally in rank order from the top of the list.

3. Applicant Tiers.

As the first step in the ranking process, applicants are separated into the following tiers, then ranked within each tier according to standards of teaching and academic excellence, outlined in the criteria listed below in section 4.

a. First tier: applicants who at the time of the effective date of their appointment would begin their first through fourth semester of being a teaching assistant in this department.

b. Second tier: applicants who at the time of the effective date of their appointment would begin their fifth or sixth semester of being a teaching assistant in this department.

c. Third tier: applicants who at the time of their application meet either of these conditions:

1. are in their first semester of graduate study in this department, or

2. have completed six or more semesters of teaching service in this department.

d. Fourth tier: applicants who...

1. have submitted a late application, or

2. at the time of their application are on provisional status. e. Fifth tier: Ineligible for appointment. This includes applicants... 1. who are on probation in the department. 2. who have more than one incomplete grade.

3. whose teaching evaluations manifest a pattern of strongly negative response and /or failure to perform duties at the minimum standard acceptable to the department and the University.

Applicants must submit all application materials to the graduate secretary on or before the deadline, normally a Friday. The graduate secretary will promptly inform the applicant whether the application is complete, and if not, exactly what materials remain to be filed. In such instances, the applicant will be expected to file the missing materials promptly. Applications that remain incomplete by noon on the date when they are reviewed (normally the following Wednesday) shall be considered formally late.

Upon request, the Executive Committee provides students placed in this tier with reasons for this assignment.

4. Ranking Criteria.

Applicants within each category are ranked according to the Executive Committee's assessment of their teaching ability and of the quality of their academic record, on the basis of information in the applicants' files. Teaching ability and academic excellence are given equal weight. Each of the criteria is assessed in detail according to the following system: In addition to submitting an application form, applicants must make sure their files are complete and up-to-date. The following items constitute the basis on which applicants are evaluated:

Academic quality is rated in three categories ( i.e., course work and academic awards; research and scholarship; and progress through the program) and teaching ability is rated in two categories (i.e. teaching experience; teaching quality). For each applicant, each of these five categories is scored on a scale of zero to five points, and the teaching quality category is scored on a scale of zero to ten points. Thus the maximum possible point score is 30 points. Details of the categories are:

Academic quality:

Category 1: a combination of grades (with GPA relevant only for Anthropology courses), evaluations of course work, and academic awards received during graduate study; Maximum of five points.

Category 2: a combination of publications, technical reports, papers presented at conferences, grant proposals and grants awarded and, where appropriately documented, professional service. These forms of research and scholarship are weighted by type and by years of graduate study. Maximum of five points.

Category 3: progress in the graduate program. Maximum of five points.

Teaching quality:

Category 1: a combination of type and degree of evaluated teaching experience, within and outside of the department. Maximum of five points.

Category 2: quality of teaching as indicated by classroom/student evaluations and letters of evaluation. Maximum of ten points.

Finally, the academic and teaching subtotals are added for a maximum possible of 30 points. The applicant with the most points is then ranked first, the applicant with the second largest number of points, second, etc.

5. Grievance Procedure. This Grievance Procedure exists to help ensure that any errors made in the Department's TA selection and ranking process are identified and rectified in a timely manner. Utilization of this Grievance Procedure will normally be preceded by a TA applicant's informal inquiry to the Graduate Program Director. The Grievance Procedure may be initiated when a TA applicant believes his/her position in the TA ranking has resulted from misunderstanding or misjudgment of his/her qualifications or credentials. The Grievance Procedure does not apply when: (a) the applicant's position in the ranking derives from his/her failure to submit a complete application and /or to include relevant materials in his/her file prior to the selection deadlines; or (b) the grounds for the ranking and/or dissatisfaction with it result from the qualitative assessments expressed in such evaluative materials as teaching evaluations or core course evaluations. TA applicants who wish to challenge their positions in the TA applicant ranking established and published by the Executive Committee of the Department have recourse to the following Grievance Procedure.

The steps and guidelines of the Grievance Procedure are:

a. The TA applicant who is grieving the ranking must present his/her objections to the ranking to the Departmental Chair, in writing, within two weeks of the date of publication of the ranking in the MegaMemo. Submission of the written grievance by the applicant constitutes permission to have a Graduate student member on the Grievance Committee who has access to the grievant's file.

b. On receipt of the written grievance, the Departmental Chair will:
1) sequester the file of the Grievant in the hands of the Departmental Office staff; and
2) initiate the creation of the Grievance Committee, which must be appointed within two weeks of the Chair's receipt of the written grievance. 24

c. From the time the Chair receives the written grievance until the Executive Committee reaches a final decision on the grievance, no materials may be added or removed from the Grievant's file, or, if relevant, from the files of other TA applicants.

d. The Grievance Committee is an ad hoc committee, consisting of one faculty member appointed by the Executive Committee, one faculty member appointed by the Grievant, and one graduate student, who is not one of the ranked TA applicants, appointed by the Graduate Caucus. Each appointing body will inform the Departmental Chair of its appointee to the Grievance Committee in writing, and within two weeks as stipulated in 2b. The Chair will then formally appoint and charge the members of the Grievance Committee, and provide each of them with copies of the TA Selection Guidelines, the Grievance Procedure, and the Grievant's written statement of objection.

e. The Grievance Committee will then review the Grievant's case and present its findings and recommendation to the Executive Committee, via the Chair, and to the Grievant, within two weeks of receiving its formal appointment and charge.

f. In reviewing the Grievant's case, the Grievance Committee may review the file of the Grievant and any other TA applicants' files it deems relevant to the case. The Grievance Committee may also: interview the members of the Executive Committee or otherwise request information on the procedure and process followed by the Executive Committee in carrying out the TA selection; and/or request additional information from the Grievant relevant to the case.

g. The agreement of any two of the three members of the Grievance Committee is sufficient to constitute a recommendation to the Executive Committee.

h. The report of the Grievance Committee to the Executive Committee must be in writing with a copy provided at the same time to the Grievant. The Grievance Committee must and may only recommend either (a) that the Executive Committee let stand its original, published ranking of TA applicants; or (b) that the Executive Committee should reconsider the original ranking. In either case, the Grievance Committee must explain the reasons for its recommendation.

i. If the Grievance Committee recommends that the Executive Committee let stand its original ranking, the Executive Committee need take no action. The Dept chair will then inform the Grievant of the outcome, in writing, and will file all documents relevant to the grievance case.

j. If the Grievance Committee recommends that the Executive Committee review and reconsider the original ranking, the Executive Committee must do so, with attention to the reasoning of the Grievance Committee, within two weeks of receipt of the Grievance Committee's report. The Executive Committee will decide the extent and details of its review of applicants' files and on any other steps necessary to its reconsideration.

k. Regardless of the outcome of the Executive Committee's review of the ranking, it must publish the results of its reconsideration as part of its minutes in the MegaMemo. If the Executive Committee decides, as a result of its reconsideration, to change the original ranking of the TA applicants, it should include a summary of its reasoning in the published Minutes. 25

l. Within one week of the Executive Committee's review of its ranking, the Departmental Chair must formally notify the Grievant, in writing, of the outcome. The Chair will then file all documents relevant to the grievance case.

This procedure will be deemed to have been exhausted once the Chair has informed the Grievant of the Executive Committee's deliberations.

C. Teaching in the Division of Continuing Education.

The University's Division of Continuing Education (DCE) in cooperation with the department offers courses which graduate students organize and teach. The departmental chair develops with counterparts in DCE just which courses are to be taught in anthropology during the fall and Spring semesters, the January term and during the two summer sessions. Then the chair makes an announcement in the MegaMemo calling for applications to teach DCE courses. The stipend for DCE courses is directly related to the size of enrollment; if enrollment is too low, the DCE may cancel the course.

The following guidelines apply to all regularly scheduled courses in Anthropology offered through the DCE, with the exception of the Summer Field School in Archaeology.

1. Posting:

A. The chair will place a call for applications in the MegaMemo at least three weeks in advance of a deadline. That call will indicate: which courses are to be offered; the deadline for submission of applications; that the applications must be hand delivered (or faxed) to an office staff person; and those materials necessary for a complete application.

B. The submission deadline will be a scheduled Executive Committee meeting at which the applications will be considered. This deadline normally will be at least three weeks in advance of the catalog deadline set by the DCE.

C. The call for applications will be made four times during the year, depending on DCE catalog publication deadlines. The chair will work with DCE staff to plan which courses will be offered in any given semester. The application deadlines will appear in any departmental master calendar.

2. Application Process:

A. Each applicant will submit:
1) a completed DCE application form;
2) an up-to-date
curriculum vitae;
3) a completed teaching inventory form;
4) syllabi for any and all courses, including newly proposed courses, for which the applicant wishes to be considered; and
5) a letter of intent which will minimally state, in rank order, those courses the applicant wishes to teach and why. This letter may also discuss financial exigencies.

B. All applications will be received and kept together in a central location to be determined by the chair. 26

C. There will be no limit on the number of course syllabi an applicant can submit for any given semester.

D. Applicants will promptly receive a receipt for their application. This can be a form letter handed to the applicants when they apply.

E. If there are advertised courses for which no one applies, or if a successful candidate declines an offered position, a second call for applications for that position will be made, whenever necessary.

3. The Criteria for Selection:

A. Priority for teaching regularly scheduled DCE courses will be given to graduate students in good standing enrolled in the Department. To be in "good standing" an applicant may not have more than one "Incomplete" course. Applications from candidates not enrolled as graduate students will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

B. In keeping with the letter and spirit of the GEO contract, no applicant holding a fellowship, TA, RA, or other position covered under the GEO contract will be discriminated against during the application and/or selection process for DCE positions, provided that the applicant is in good academic standing and is making sufficient progress toward his/her degree. However, if an applicant holds a fellowship which prohibits such employment, the terms of the fellowship will be honored.

C. If there are any questions concerning an applicant's academic standing or progress toward her/his degree, the applicant, the GPD, and the applicant's advisor will determine if it is in the best interest of the applicant to teach a DCE course.

D. A graduate student member of the Executive Committee who has applied for a DCE position cannot participate in the DCE selection process. The Grad Caucus will appoint a replacement, as it does for the TA ranking procedure.

4. The Selection Process:

A. In order to ensure wide accessibility to DCE courses, the Executive Committee will attempt to place as many qualified applicants in positions as is possible. In order to ensure that qualified candidates are given the opportunity to gain critical teaching experience, and that no one student monopolizes a given course, applicants will not be given priority to teach the same class three times consecutively. In addition, no applicant will be given priority to teach more than one course during any given winter session, first summer session, or second summer session.

B. If there is more than one application for a given course AFTER a consideration of 4. A, the Executive Committee will use the following criteria to determine which candidate will be offered the position, in this order:

1. Quality of Instruction. The quality of the syllabus and the quality of the applicant's teaching evaluations on file in the department will first be considered.

2. Letter of Intent. If the quality of instruction is judged to be equal, the applicants' letter of intent will then be considered. 27

3. Experience. If the applicants cannot be distinguished after step (2), the Executive Committee will prioritize the syllabus of that applicant with more experience in: instructing that particular course; independent instruction of other courses; working as a TA in that particular course; and being a TA in other courses.

4. Professional Development. If the applicants cannot be distinguished after step (3), the Executive Committee will review each applicant's CV to determine which applicant has more professional experience in the area of the proposed course and in related areas.

C. In considering DCE applications, the Executive Committee will follow all employment guidelines stipulated by the university and GEO.

5. Notification of Selection.

A. The Executive Committee will notify all applicants of its decision within three weeks of the application deadline.

B. Each successful applicant will be appointed a faculty mentor to assist and advise in the design and instruction of their course or courses.

C. In order to make the application procedure a learning experience for graduate students, at any applicant's request, the GPD will notify the candidate of the specific reasons why her/his application was unsuccessful. This may be done verbally in a meeting of the candidate with the GPD and other faculty members of the Executive Committee or through written notification.

D. If the Executive Committee disqualifies an application, that applicant must be notified of the reason or reasons. This may be done verbally or through written notification as outlined above in 4.C.

D. Research Assistantships.

In any given year, there may be one or more research assistantships available in the department, depending on outside funding of faculty research. In general, research assistantships carry the same stipend, time commitment, and tuition waiver that teaching assistantships do. Selection of research assistants is left to the discretion of the faculty principal investigator. Likewise teaching assistantship funds that are tied to individual instructors operate the same way (e.g., summer archaeological field school assistants, lab supervisors).

E. Graduate School Fellowships. Every year the Graduate School makes available about 60 fellowships to individuals on a competitive basis among all graduate programs on the campus. Departments compete with each other in nominating outstanding students. There are no duties; the stipend varies from year to year; and the fellowship includes a tuition waiver. Faculty or students may identify candidates to the faculty caucus in February; then the faculty choose from among these candidates their specific nominees. As a general rule, the faculty choose as nominees those students at or near the dissertation research or writing stage. Every effort is made to select nominees whose credentials --often evinced by stellar grades, GRE scores, and a strong publishing record -- give them the best chance of being chosen as finalists by the Graduate School's Fellowship Committee, a group made up of faculty from several disciplines.

F. The Sylvia Forman Graduate Scholarship provides a stipend for a graduate student in anthropology who is a citizen of a "Third World" country or who is a Native American. The scholarship was created by a bequest by Professor Sylvia Helen Forman, who was a professor in the department from 1972 until she died in 1992. Memorial gifts from friends and alumni have bolstered the capital of this fund substantially. Professor Forman’s objective in creating the scholarship was to recruit graduate students from those regions of the world that historically had hosted 28 anthropologists. It was Professor Forman’s view that anthropology must be decolonized, and a key means to accomplish that is to diversify the identities and social positions of its practitioners. While the stipend varies from year to year depending on the amount of interest the fund has earned, the trustees endeavor to award an amount to cover room, board, tuition, fees, and transportation for one graduate student per year. In general, the fund's trustees aim to award the scholarship to an incoming graduate student each year, though any student in the graduate program who meets the citizenship requirement, may apply. G. The European Studies Program gives graduate students and honors undergraduate students the opportunity to develop a research idea into a concrete plan of action, to put the plan into effect during a semester in Europe, then to write up research results during the ensuing semester. Under the direct supervision of one of the faculty, preliminary research is conducted at various sites in Europe -- the site varies each year depending on faculty and student interest. The idea is to give students a first-hand research experience before they become committed to specific dissertation topics. In fact, such preliminary research is often crucial in subsequently delineating the dissertation topic. The university supports the European Studies Program by granting student participants a modest stipend and a waiver of tuition for the semester in Europe. The Director of the European Studies Program invites applications to the European Field Studies Program with an announcement in the MegaMemo. Contact the Director for a description of the program and an application.