4.22.20: Graduate Student Hiring Freeze Exemption Request Procedure

Important information about graduate student and post-doctoral trainee funding and employment for Summer and Fall 2020.

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As you read in the 4-15-2020 email from Provost Pat Farrell and Vice President for Finance and Administration Pat Johnson, Lehigh is taking measures to reduce expenses in consideration of the financial impact of the pandemic. I’m writing to clarify how this will affect graduate student and post-doctoral trainee funding and employment for Summer and Fall 2020.

Before detailing the procedure that we are asking everyone to follow, I want to encourage departments to check in on your graduate students and be creative about helping them to find funding this summer. Units who are not able to hire new staff due to the hiring freeze might consider hiring a highly skilled graduate student to move projects forward in a cost-effective way. This request to hire graduate students might seem counter-intuitive in a time of cost reduction, but graduate students are essential to our teaching, research, and community missions. Although some doctoral students are funded through the summer, many other doctoral and master’s students have seen their off-campus summer employment opportunities dry up due to COVID-19. To those of you are already working on this problem, I want to offer gratitude on behalf of graduate students. I will be following up via email with information on a clearinghouse we are setting up with CCPD to capture summer funding and employment opportunities for graduate students. Stay tuned, and in the meantime, please follow the procedure below to hire or fund graduate students for Summer and Fall.

Essentially, all graduate student funding requests that require action by Payroll will be denied due to the hiring freeze UNLESS they have gone through the exemption request process.

Exemption request required
(In the paragraphs below, the word “new” refers to offers made after April 15.)

1. Internally funded, college-based RAs, TAs, GAs (stipend/semi-monthly payments) offered after April 15
To hire or fund students who are offered (after April 15) internally funded, college-based RAs, TAs, or GAs for the Summer or Fall, each college will need to apply for an exception to the hiring freeze. We will review these requests and let Payroll know if they are approved so that the paperwork can be processed. Graduate Managers will be sent an Excel spreadsheet to complete and submit to provost@lehigh.edu. Please also submit the usual hiring paperwork to Payroll.

2. VPR-funded (FRG, FIG, CORE, Accelerator, Research Futures, etc.) positions offered after April 15
The funding or hiring of a “new” RA for VPR-funded Summer or Fall research work will be approved if the funding is available in the grant account. Once you determine who to hire under the grant, please enter each individual’s information into this Google Form for review. Please also submit the usual hiring paperwork to Payroll.

3. Internally funded, individual-professor-, department-, or unit-based RAs, GAs or graduate students paid an hourly wage, and internally funded grants supporting graduate student research and writing (not including VPR grants) offered after April 15
To hire or fund students who are offered these RA, GA, or hourly wage positions after April 15 for the Summer or Fall, or to offer grants after April 15 to support graduate student research or writing that starts in Summer or Fall, each professor, department, or unit will need to apply for an exception to the hiring freeze. We will review these requests and let Payroll know if they are approved so that the paperwork can be processed. Once you determine who to hire under the grant, please enter each individual’s informati on into this Google Form for review. Please also submit the usual hiring paperwork to Payroll.

4. Externally funded RA positions offered after April 15
To hire or fund a “new” RA for externally funded Summer or Fall research work, PIs should follow the usual college procedure (submitting the hire through the college), and each college will submit the requests to ORSP. An additional confirmation will be required from the PI to be included with the payroll form. The confirmation from the PI must certify that summer activity can be conducted 100% remotely without compromise. This currently applies through July 31, with that date to be revisited as more information becomes available from federal agencies. As is true with all externally funded awards, the position must be budgeted and the funds must be restricted.

Exemption request required (but will be automatically approved)

1. Current post-doctoral trainees who receive a reappointment letter after April 15; graduate students with funding packages that involve switching the type of position from year to year, or semester to semester; and second offers of funding (funding was already approved for a first offer to a student who turned down)
If these hires are included in the college list of TAs/RAs/GAs (see #1 above), that’s all that needs to be done. If they are not included in the college list, please enter each individual’s information into this Google Form for review. Please also submit the usual hiring paperwork to Payroll.

No exemption request required

1. Graduate students or post-doctoral trainees currently in positions that will continue into the Summer and/or Fall
This includes post-docs, RAs, TAs, GAs (stipend and hourly), students earning an hourly wage, as well as those who are on internal fellowships. If a graduate student or post-doc is currently funded for work that will continue into the Summer and/or Fall, and you are therefore not submitting any paperwork to Payroll, you do not have to do anything, as long as the funding source remains available. That said, if the funding for a position comes from a grant or contract, you must determine that the graduate student’s role can be carried out remotely without compromise for the full length of the Summer. We have no assurance of federal agen cies’ continued willingness to support positions that require being on campus or at field sites that might not be accessible. Units that have continued to pay graduate students during Spring semester despite the inability to switch to remote work do not have to continue to pay them in the Summer and Fall unless their original appointment included this longer timeframe. We offer our thanks to these units for seeing them through the Spring term.

2. Post-Docs, RAs, TAs, and GAs who were offered positions for Summer or Fall by April 15
Current or prospective graduate students or post-doctoral trainees who received an offer for a new Summer or Fall position by April 15 and whose paperwork has already gone to Payroll are automatically exempted, so an exemption request does not have to be submitted, as long as the funding source remains available.

**If you have sent a hiring request to Payroll that falls into the “no exemption request required” category, and it bounced back, please email provost@lehigh.edu so that we can address the issue with Payroll.

Thank you so much for your patience with this long email and with this process. I appreciate your help trying to balance the challenges of sustaining our institutional health while continuing our core missions, including graduate education. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.

Beth Dolan
Deputy Provost for Graduate Education