Winter International Travel Fellowship Reinstated

CLBR to fund more people this winter than years past

The Winter International Travel Fellowship funds students looking to do research abroad during winter break. With Reed’s emphasis on academic rigor and a significant portion of its student body planning to pursue graduate school, it’s important for the college to offer students subsidized opportunities to do research. Last week, to the dismay of many students who had already applied or were planning to apply for the travel Fellowship this year, the Center for Life Beyond Reed suddenly announced that it had been cancelled due to a lack of funding. Previously, 8-10 students had received $3000 each to offset costs associated with travel and academic research over winter break. The announcement came on October 7, suddenly. However, on Sunday, students received an email that the Fellowship had not only been refunded, but that there will be an additional $600-800 Job Shadowing stipend for this year.

It seems that the original announcement cancelling the Fellowship came after students had already expressed interest in receiving funds for this year, with some students having already applied for the Fellowship. When asked about the dissolution of the Fellowship, CLBR’s Alice Harra responded with the statement that the Fellowship was “an outright gift and not endowed,  meaning that the funding runs out once it is spent.” However, it is surprising that the CLBR staff would neglect to mention that the fund would run out this year, especially this close to the application deadline.

Student Max Teaford posted on Facebook that after speaking with President Audrey Bilger, Bilger revealed that the reason the fund came to a sudden end this year was due to some of the money for the Fellowship being used to furnish the presidential discretionary funds, and thus it was left to the President’s discretion as to how the money should be spent. When the Quest reached out to the President’s office for comment, the response received stated that the money was actually “part of this pool supporting both programs.” 

After the sudden cancellation of the Winter Fellowship last week, it was announced that the Fellowship was reinstated over the weekend. CLBR’s Alice Harra acknowledged how “Development, Student Life, and CLBR [worked] together to secure funding for WITF for one more year, in addition to securing additional funding for job shadowing.”

The response in common from both the CLBR and the President’s Office is that the administration was in fact aware that the Fellowship was not an unlimited resource. Originally, the WITF was created using an alumni gift of  $150,000-180,000 which was meant to be split over six years so 50-60 students would receive funding. The CLBR has announced that this year, Winter Travel Fellowship will provide 8-10 students with $3,000 (like it did previously) as well as the opportunity for 30-50 students to receive $600 for job shadowing. Thus, the program will cost approximately $60,000 this year. Meaning, the CLBR went from having to cancel the WITF due to lack of funds to being prepared to spend $60,000. This money was presumably found over the course of a week since the original cancellation announcement from the CLBR. The President’s Office and CLBR have not given any specific answers as to how this money was gathered, where it came from, and why it wasn’t available earlier. Students, particularly those headed to graduate school as well as those seeking career readiness, have relied on securing work and internships through the Fellowship in the past. Similarly, students who plan ahead are unsure of whether they can expect the Fellowship to be around in the future, as “both the WITF and the Job Shadowing programs will be evaluated to determine whether or not they were successful, and what funding might be available,” according to President Audrey Bilger’s office.

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