Graduate Donor Award Overview
This web page is designed to guide Faculty graduate donor experts along the appropriate steps for creating, revising and discontinuing graduate donor awards at Western and ensure transparency throughout the various processes involved.
Donor funded awards are made possible by generous donations from alumni, corporations, foundations and other friends of Western in support of student scholarship. Once graduate donor awards/scholarships are established, it is our goal to ensure that 100% of donor awards are distributed each and every year that they are available.
For a comprehensive listing of all current donor funded awards available to graduate students at Western, please visit our Donor Funded Award Search.
Policies Governing Graduate Donor Awards
Donor funded graduate awards are initially arranged with Alumni Relations and Development. Once drafted the terms and conditions are submitted to the Senate Sub-committee to Review Scholarships (SRS).
For the terms or reference for this sub-committee visit this website. The University governs scholarships, awards and prizes under its MAPP Policy Section 2.10 and naming of awards in its MAPP Policy Section 1.44.
Endowed funds provide a stable, reliable source of funding. Financial managers invest the principal amount to obtain above average returns and sustain long-term growth with a minimum of risk.
The Process of a Graduate Donor Award
- Alumni Relations and Development (ARD) works with the Donor to create new award provisions using the SGPS ‘best practice' provisions (see below).
- ARD creates a donor agreement with input from the host Faculty/programs and SGPS and is eventually signed off by the Donor (where applicable), ARD, host Faculty, graduate program representative and SGPS.
- ARD brings an abbreviated version description forward to the SRS. It is this description that becomes a living document and can change over time.
- SRS sends its recommendations forward for final approval to the appropriate governance bodies (Senate and Board), as necessary.
- Once approved by Property & Finance (on behalf of the Board of Governors) the award is set up in PeopleSoft, making the award publicly available.
- The set up of an award is a collaborative effort between SGPS, Finance, ARD, and the Office of the Registrar.
The Revision and/or Discontinuation of a Graduate Donor Award
Graduate donor awards can be revised or discontinued for a number of reasons, including changes in funding, changes in the awarding program or changes in the degree. If a change or discontinuation is required, the faculty representative should contact SGPS first. Approvals of changes or discontinuation must be approved by SRS only.
The Role of SGPS/ARD/Finance in the Donor Award Process
- Ensure that graduate donor award agreements and descriptions follow a consistent standard across the academy based on best practice and University policy.
- Ensure that graduate donor awards are written in such a way that they can be given out.
- Ensure fairness in the process.
- Ensure the language suits the unique aspects of graduate education.
- Ensure the administrative processes are consistent with the size of the award.
- To help facilitate creation, revision, discontinuation and ongoing maintenance of graduate donor awards with all parties e.g., graduate programs, Faculties, Alumni Relations and Development, the Office of the Registrar and Finance.
The Role of Graduate Programs/Faculties in the Donor Award Process
- Help facilitate creation, revision, discontinuation and ongoing maintenance of graduate donor awards with all parties (e.g., graduate programs, Faculties) and to ensure this information is effectively communicated to all parties.
- Ensure that graduate donor awards follow a consistent standard across the academy based on best practice and University policy.
- Ensure that a fair and transparent process is in place.
- Ensure all awards have been given out in each fiscal year.
- Review all graduate donor awards twice each year to ensure the funds have been given to students and if not, review the criteria to ensure they can be given out.
- Help facilitate the donor matching process with ARD and SGPS for OGS and QEII-GSST Awards. This ensures that the donor is given appropriate recognition for providing the 1/3 matching component.
Donor Award Best Practice - Terms and Conditions
Effectively written donor agreements are paramount to ensuring the funds are given to a graduate student. ARD, in the first instance, drafts the donor agreements and we need to ensure that each agreement has the following three main components:
- They articulate clear critera for eligibility that detail who is eligible to apply.
- E.g., "Awarded to a full-time graduate student in a Masters or PhD program in the Geology graduate program who is developing his/her thesis on problems of sustainability..."
- They articulate a clear and transparent process for the application and selection of the recipient.
- E.g., "Applications in NSERC PGS format are to be submitted to the Department of Earth Sciences Graduate Secretary by October 31. The recipient will be selected by the Earth Sciences Graduate Committee."
- They articulate the number and value and the length of the agreement E.g.:
- May 2017 - April 2025 - term based funded
- May 2017 - no end date on the award
Example of best practice:
Awarded annually to a full-time graduate student in Biology (Masters or Doctoral), with preference to a student working in the broad area of plant sciences, who exemplifies a balance of research with the commitments of university, social and/or family activities. Applications can be submitted to the Graduate Office in the Department of Biology by July 15th.
Value: 1 at $650
Activation of Graduate Donor Awards in a New Fiscal Year
Each new fiscal year begins May 1 and ends April 30. Before activating graduate donor awards for the fiscal year, SGPS follows this annual process:
- SGPS identifies all active awards eligible to be paid out in the new fiscal year.
- Treasury Services, Department of Finance, makes the 'allocation for spending' available in the PeopleSoft Finance system for all donor awards housed at Western for the new fiscal year. The allocation payout formula is dependent on the interest generated by the award's endowment fund, based on its market performance in the preceding fiscal year. Treasury Services makes every effort to provide this information by early June.
- Once the allocation for spending is completed, SGPS conducts a review of all donor awards housed at Western to determine if there are sufficient funds available to pay out the award or if changes to the value of the award are necessary.
- SGPS meets with each ‘Faculty graduate donor expert’ mid-June. The ‘Faculty graduate donor expert’ will, in consultation with SGPS, determine what course of action needs to be followed for their graduate donor awards, given the funds available;
- a) no change as there are sufficient funds to cover the awards for the fiscal year
- b) increase or decrease the value or number of awards through the SRS process
- c) top-up the difference between the funds available and the value of the award
- d) re-capitalize if there is a surplus of funds available. Authorization to re-capitalize funds needs to be approved by the donor. If there is no living donor, authorization to re-capitalize is required by the Dean
- Following the meeting with the ‘Faculty graduate donor expert’, graduate donor awards will be available to payout using the Award Nomination process in Student Centre/PeopleSoft for the fiscal year.
Glossary of Terms
Endowed - a lump sum given to the University to support an award in perpetuity
Term Funded - a lump sum given to the University to support an award over a given length of time (ex. 5 years)
Annually Funded - donor supports the award with yearly donations
OTSS/OSOTF/OSOTF II - recipients must be Ontario residents and have financial need