- Kevin Breaux, Awards & Assistantship Coordinator, Graduate School, Louisiana State University. Kevin uses InfoReady to host the competitions for three fellowships, a graduate school tuition award, a distinguished dissertation award, as well as for assistantship additional compensations, evaluations, and probation petitions.
- Jessica Coyle, Executive Assistant, Dean's Office, Graduate School University of Rhode Island. Jessica uses InfoReady for four annual fellowship competitions and scholarships. They also manage a small grant for graduate students in research groups for individual or collaborative projects, as well as collect applications for assistantship opportunities at the graduate school.
- Beth Dutridge-Corp, Graduate Education Program Manager, Office of the Dean, College of Literature, Science and the Arts, University of Michigan. Beth uses InfoReady for two primary reasons: Graduate students who apply to teach and for a recruitment event.
- Carol Wicks, Associate Dean, Geology & Geophysics, Louisiana State University. Carol uses InfoReady to run a myriad of one-time competitions for the provost as well as travel grants. She regularly looks for ways to convert paper forms into digital processes with InfoReady.
Four graduate school administrators were part of a panel discussion webinar to discuss how they use InfoReady to manage fellowships, awards, and other application processes along with a few tips.
What processes in the graduate school are you using InfoReady for?
Jessica: Currently, we have about 4 fellowship competitions that we use every year, as well as scholarships. We also have a small grant program for graduate students in research groups for individual or group projects. We also use it for applications for assistantship opportunities like jobs at the graduate school. InfoReady has been amazing with that.
Carol: I’m an associate dean in the graduate school. Sometimes there’ll be a competition that the provost will want to run for specific graduate students, as a one-time thing. I’ll get an email ‘Hey, can you set this up in InfoReady?’ We’ve done several of those. We also use it for travel grants and SEC Emerging Scholars .
Anytime a piece of paper comes across my desk and I recognize that’s the fifth or sixth time I've seen that piece of paper, I'm in InfoReady trying to figure out if I can move it. I really look to InfoReady to get rid of a lot of paper.
Beth: I can definitely echo what Carol said. Here in the dean’s office we use InfoReady for two primary reasons:
There are a lot of approvals that must come from dissertation advisors from the instructional department as well as approval here in the college. We really were able to move away from paper PDF applications that required signatures and some approval process. InfoReady has really streamlined that process for us.
We use it as an external application for undergraduates who are looking to study at University of Michigan. They take part in a small recruitment event we hold in the fall, called Preview Weekend.
In addition to using it in the Dean's office, I know we've really extended it out to a lot of our departments and units who now use it for everything from tracking of committee meetings, forms to looking at capstone requirement project requirements, tracking milestones at the graduate level, indigenous research awards, and departmental fellowships.
Kevin: I’ll jump on board to say that here in the LSU grad school, we have roughly 3 fellowships we host competitions for through InfoReady.
We have a graduate school tuition award, a distinguished dissertation award, as well as for assistantship additional compensations, evaluations, and probation petitions. It’s become very instrumental, and the process is very streamlined for us. We’ve gotten away from the old paper formats. I think we probably have a couple out there, but we’re trying to eventually roll into electronic versions.
How do you make it easy for students and faculty to quickly find the application or competition they are looking for?
Beth: I will definitely say, within our college the usage InfoReady has kind of exploded in a good way. We have 11 different departments in our college who use InfoReady. Our newest adopter is Psychology and they’ve got at least 10 different competitions and processes focused on graduate students.
One thing we like to do is remind people about naming and procedures and try to make sure that the naming department is featured. We also make sure the department is selecting the correct category [to display on the homepage]. A great feature of InfoReady is that opportunities can be listed by organizer and category. You can even name a specific category of your own, like we have ‘Graduate Milestones’, ‘Graduate Awards’ and ‘Graduate Teaching’ as categories. These are more descriptive, so it helps them know that they're applying to the right thing. The categories also help with reporting.
Jessica: Since we use it primarily just for funding resources competitions, what helps is that we launch competitions at different dates and have them end at different dates. We can prepare the competition ahead of time, then schedule to launch at different times. It makes it a lot easier for us as admins to be able to implement them ahead of time and not get too confused as was happening when we had them all end at the same time.
Kevin: We do the same thing. We prepare our competitions in advance and have them ready to go at a certain time.
I use the copy function a lot because, in many cases, the competition does not change very much. I copy the previous competition and tweak the description, dates, and title a little bit. It’s really beneficial to not have to completely start a competition from scratch.
We have all of our competitions, all of our awards, all of our fellowships, all listed on the grad school website under our funding page. There's a link that takes you directly to the home page of our InfoReady site, so from there they can pick out which particular competition they want to apply for.
How does the ability to copy competition help with staff transitions?
Jessica: So that was actually my case. Our previous assistant Dean left about a year ago, and I took over. I thought it would be a large learning curve. But the system is so user friendly that you were able to really pick up where others left off. I was able to reference the templates that were used and able to reference the copies. It really worked really well, especially for someone who I've never used it before. The [user] guides are amazing. So, for me it was an easy transition. I like techie stuff, so it was really fun for me to learn. I thought it was going to be very challenging, but it really wasn’t. It was very simple.
Carol: I'll piggyback on that, Jessica. I was also thrown in the deep end and so was Kevin. We were able to copy a competition that was up and running for one of our fellowships and all we needed to do is change the academic year. It was a really great baby step for us to take. It was pretty easy for us to learn as the training guides are very helpful. Then we began feeling more confident about designing our own competitions. We relied on the guides and the copy function to get us moving forward.
As our panelists shared, InfoReady does more than convert paper into electronic formats. Its built-in workflow tools create automation for routing, reviews and tracking to that save tremendous amounts time and hassle.