Skip Navigation
UT Wordmark
office of the dean header title graphic

Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies

Office of the Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies

Esther L. Raizen, Associate Dean
Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, Executive Assistant
Kathy Thatcher, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist 
Melanie Morgan, Foundations Specialist
Vivian Smyrl, Post-Award Specialist

Our Mission:

The Office of Research strives to advance the educational mission of the College of Liberal Arts by providing the infrastructure that faculty, graduate students, and academic units within the College need in order to fund, conduct, and disseminate compelling and innovative research. Research by College faculty and students exemplifies our contribution to the people of Texas, to the academic community in the nation and beyond, and to the development of human knowledge in the humanities and the social sciences. Strong research is critical to the education we provide to our undergraduate and graduate students; indeed, a successful research mission is inseparable from our educational mission.

To carry out our research mission, our staff of grants professionals identifies opportunities for faculty and graduate students and coordinates collaboration with research sponsors and partners. We facilitate the participation of faculty and graduate students in grant and fellowship competitions inside the University of Texas at Austin, at the state and national levels, and internationally, with a commitment to assuring compliance with all regulatory requirements.

Liberal Arts Grants Services

The Grants Services unit of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies:

  • Educates faculty, graduate students, and staff on grant seeking at UT Austin;
  • Facilitates Liberal Arts faculty and graduate student grant submission with the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) and the University Development Office (UDO); and
  • Provides guidance to grant awardees and their departments on appropriate management of grant funds.

As a service to the College, Grants Services circulates a Weekly Grants Digest with open grant opportunities that may be of interest to academic units, faculty, and graduate students in Liberal Arts. To subscribe to this list, please email Melanie Morgan (, or go to the UT Lists page ( and join the list You may also access this resource through the News ( section of our website.

We also offer a number of workshops throughout the semester. These cover the process of submitting grants at UT Austin, sponsor-specific application requirements (i.e., the National Science Foundation), and preparing grants budgets. For more information, please visit the calendar ( section of our website.

Please note, we require a minimum of three weeks’ advance notice for grant submissions. Consult our grant submission timeline ( for details.

For more information on Grants Services, please visit our website, or contact one of our Grants and Contracts Specialists:

Kathy Thatcher, Pre-Award, U.S. and International Government Proposals

Melanie Morgan, Pre-Award, Foundation Proposals & Graduate Students

Vivian Smyrl, Awarded Grants


Office: Dorothy L. Gebauer Building, 4.306

Humanities Research Awards

Humanities Research Awards are College of Liberal Arts-sponsored grants that provide funding for tenured and tenure-track faculty whose work falls within the disciplines of the humanities. The awards support faculty in their efforts to bring to completion a research project already in progress, and the expectation is that the recipient will produce one or more publications and make his or her work known to the academic community through conferences and other venues. The award is $5,000 for three consecutive years, for a total of $15,000. Ten awards will be granted in January 2014.


Lauren Apter Bairnsfather 

Graduate Student Affairs

Our office takes a special interest in the success of graduate students in the College of Liberal Arts, during the period of enrollment and upon graduation. We collaborate with the Dean of the Graduate School and with the Graduate Student Assembly to stay on top of campus-wide activities that support the graduate student population. We also convene the Liberal Arts Graduate Council to connect directly with our students.

We continually seek to improve campus resources and procedures to benefit graduate students in the areas of funding, work-life balance, mentorship, career planning, and placement of graduates in academic and training-related jobs. Please stay in touch with us as you begin to advise and mentor graduate students. 

Gender Equity

Our mission is to address workplace equity issues in the College of Liberal Arts, on a continuum that begins with graduate students and ends with full professors, and to identify systemic/programmatic problems that require attention. We coordinate our activities with the Provost's Office, and follow the Provost's lead in responding to the 2008 Gender Equity Report. We also work closely with the Graduate School. 

Work-Life Balance

The Dean of Liberal Arts, Randy Diehl, published the following letter in January 2010:

We at the College of Liberal Arts are aware that faculty members often struggle to maintain a healthy balance between professional success and personal wellness. With this letter, I wish to endorse the policies that make it easier for faculty to have both a successful career and a fulfilling personal life, and urge our faculty to empower themselves by becoming acquainted with these policies.

The University of Texas offers many resources and programs that support the physical and mental health of faculty throughout the academic life cycle. While these are often looked at as separate from the federal and state policies that legislate the types of leave that are available to faculty, we at COLA believe that these policies and resources belong together, representing a holistic approach and commitment to supporting the well being of our community.

I strongly recommend that you visit the Work-Life Balance website that the UT office of Human Resource Services has put together.

The site provides detailed information on policies that will be of use at different points in your career, including Extension of the Probationary Period, Family Medical Leave, and Modification of Instructional Duties. The site also provides links to information on childcare, eldercare, health and wellness, sports and recreation, and much more.

A question that often comes up in discussions with junior faculty is whether there will be negative consequences for extending the probationary period or for receiving modification of instructional duties. I would like to state, in no uncertain terms, that I endorse these important policies, which are available for faculty to utilize to their benefit and the benefit of their families. COLA chairs are well aware of the policies and their purpose, as are members of the Promotion and Tenure committee, and the Offices of the Provost and President. Faculty will not be penalized for taking advantage of these accommodations.

I encourage you to work with your chair and with the COLA office of Human Resources to identify, when the need arises, the course of action that will serve you best. The College is committed to your well being and success, and I welcome all questions and comments that would help us make UT in general and COLA in particular an environment where it is possible to succeed professionally while maintaining personal wellness.

Randy L. Diehl


  • Esther Raizen
    Associate Dean
  • Lauren Apter Bairnsfather
    Executive Assistant
  • Melanie Morgan
    Foundation Relations
  • Kathy Thatcher
    Grants & Contracts, Pre Award
  • Vivian Smyrl
    Grants & Contracts, Post Award