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Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards

Department: Graduate Studies Office Effective Date: August, 2013

USG 12

35 hr/wk

Reports to: Director, Graduate Acadmeic Services

General Accountability

The Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards reports to the Director, Graduate Services and is accountable to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies for the administration of graduate internal and external scholarship competitions and award programs requiring University adjudication, graduate bursary and loan programs.  Some of these programs include the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship and the SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship and Doctoral Fellowships.


The Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards is responsible for and oversees the implementation of University and external policies and regulations with regard to overall awards management including academic qualifications, enrolment, intellectual property, assessment of financial aid needs and funding decisions; counseling graduate studies applicants and students; reporting of scholarship competition outcomes and statistics to senior administration on a regular basis.


The Assistant Director is the senior graduate studies liaison with external agencies and representative for all internal programs under her/his management.  In this capacity, the incumbent counsels undergraduate and graduate students on financial matters and available funding;  advises award applicants on eligibility requirements and application content for external competitions to ensure acceptance by external agencies and award approval; advises department and Faculty academic officers and scholarship co-ordinators on funding regulations, procedures and eligibility issues to ensure the highest success rates for University of Waterloo students in external award program competitions and to maximize funding opportunities for internal awards; consults with agencies and the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies or Associate Dean, Graduate Studies on special cases for award and in the preparation of appeals and recommendations.


The Assistant Director works closely with the Office of Development to write, approve and establish award agreements for endowments and trusts, taking into close consideration the Ontario Human Rights policy on scholarships and awards, acceptable purposes of the award and award criteria, faculty/student priorities, and administrative implications. The Assistant Director oversees the administration of graduate awards from endowments and trusts including planning program budget entitlements, reviewing and approving all nominations, and annual reporting and communications to senior University administrators and to donors. 


The Assistant Director is the expert on transcript evaluation, grade conversion and defining average requirements for award competitions.  The incumbent is responsible for the production and updating of awards procedures which are used throughout the University of Waterloo.  These are complex requirements for the evaluation of individual candidates and for the comparative analysis of unique cohorts rated and nominated by the University for external awards.

The Assistant Director is responsible for the submission of any new or amended scholarship and award information to the Secretariat’s Office for Senate Graduate & Research Council approval as this information may affect eligibility criteria, award value, and selection criteria.


The Assistant Director participates on ad hoc committees and working groups to establish award regulations and procedures and to identify new strategies for utilizing university administered funds.   In addition, the Assistant Director is a board member and graduate resource for the Graduate Student Endowment Fund.  The Assistant Director provides direction on Waterloo graduate regulations and input on new funding initiatives.

Nature and Scope

 By 2017, the University of Waterloo plans to double the graduate student population from enrolment reported in 2007. A high level of organization and management of the financial aid and award programs, application, nomination and payment processes are required for the increasing number of financial aid programs with complex requirements.  Success in this task ultimately impacts on our ability to achieve our graduate enrolment and academic program growth goals.


Leadership and collaboration on special projects and in day-to-day activities with academic administrators, staff in the GSO, Information Systems and Technology, and other administrative units are also key to the successful implementation of university-wide systems which support the goals identified in the UW Sixth Decade Report.  Between five and ten new graduate programs are implemented each year.


The Graduate Studies Office provides academic service support for prospective graduate students including UW undergraduate students, external academic administrators and faculty, graduate students, alumni, postdoctoral fellows, UW faculty, UW administrators, and external agencies.


The incumbent’s supervisor is the Director, Graduate Academic Services who reports to the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies.  The following positions report to the Director, Graduate Academic Services:


The Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards works closely with the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies on all matters related to funding development strategies and academic decisions.  The Assistant Director reports to the Director, Graduate Academic Services on all matters related to personnel, operational procedures, systems and records.


The following positions report directly to the Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards:


The Assistant Director, Financial Aid and Awards is responsible for the general direction of the awards administration activities for the Graduate Studies Office.  These activities include award competition management, communications, staff resources, procedures and events.  The Assistant Director has a leadership role in the training and mentoring activities for all awards staff including managers.


The Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards position interacts with senior members of the University including the President, the Vice-President, Academic and Provost, the Vice-President, Administration and Finance, Faculty Deans, and Faculty Associate Deans of Graduate Studies in the development of funding programs and in the adjudication of University nominations for graduate students for external and internal award programs.  The incumbent must be able to communicate effectively to resolve problems and reconcile the needs and goals of these people with the University’s objectives and constraints of resource availability. 



The incumbent must maintain a productive working relationship with managers and staff in the Graduate Studies Office, Deans and Associate Deans, numerous Faculty and Department based personnel who deal with student financial aid and awards matters, and managers and department heads in other administrative units such as the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, Housing and Residences, Counseling Services, Career Services, Institutional Analysis and Planning, the Registrar’s Office, the Student Awards Office, the Office of Research, Secretariat, Finance, and Waterloo International.


The Graduate Studies Office approves more than 2,500 applications for award competitions, and 1,000 applications for financial aid and internal award programs, and processes more than 15,000 award payments each year. Awards program activities are ever-increasing and more complex due to the recent federal and provincial government focus on increasing graduate enrolment and degrees. Graduate Studies is one of the top priorities for the University of Waterloo for the next decade.


Since 2011, major Provincial and Federal Tri-council graduate award competitions have been devolved to universities for the administration of award allocation, application collection, adjudication and award processes.  The management and activities have become more complex and intensive as a result of the downloading.


The funding and award data are utilized by the Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, Graduate Studies Office, Faculties, departments and the senior administration for planning purposes and to develop new funding strategies.  Reporting on award competitions, endowed and annual funds and other forms of financial aid are a key responsibility of the incumbent.


Planning the Graduate Studies Office activities award administration requires meticulous attention to the establishment of deadlines and procedures for concurrent programs; annual reports; facilitating award meetings for the Advisory Committee on Graduate Scholarship and Awards; overseeing events including presentations from external agency representatives; presenting at UW workshops and seminars on graduate student funding and competition processes. 


The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies relies on the Assistant Director to anticipate administration issues with new funding programs; to assist in the development of awards regulations and terms of reference for eligibility and adjudication of internal awards; to develop new communication strategies to increase the participation of highly qualified students in award competitions; to promote and publicize information on successful graduate students and award programs; to present information and discuss issues at Graduate Operations Committee meetings.


The incumbent is a member of the Graduate Studies management team directing all functions in the Graduate Studies Office.  The management team has a close working relationship in matters of formulating new policy with regards to academic and operational issues.  The incumbent must be able to assess the impact of policy changes on the Graduate Studies Office and the University, and enrolment and program growth for financial aid and awards functions and must plan and coordinate the implementation or changes to policies or procedures in the awards area.


The incumbent must be current on all external award regulations and University policies and procedures as they affect the activities of the awards area.   The Assistant Director must ensure the accuracy and completeness of all external competition nominations under her/his authority so that it meets the demands required by external funding agencies. On a day-to-day basis, the incumbent is the primary liaison with external funding agencies to resolve eligibility award values and issues related to enhancements or changes to regulations as they impact the competition design and as they pertain to the University of Waterloo.

The Assistant Director is a member of the Ontario University Registrars’ Association.


Significant Internal Relationships:


Significant External Relationships:

Statistical Data

Graduate Student Income $88.3 million
Internal Awards $48 million
External Awards $19.3million
CIHR/NSERC/SSHRC/OGS Applications 1,800
Other External Applications 360
Admission Applications/Offers/New Students  9,000/3,400/1,950
Academic Programs 184
Enrolment 5,224
Degrees 1,500

Specific Accountabilities

Special Skills, Knowledge and Experience:


In order to fulfill the many and varied responsibilities of this position effectively, the following list of skills, knowledge and experiences are required:

Working Conditions