Fellowship Officer Nathaniel Haack receives Administrative Improvement Award

UW–Madison has recognized Nathaniel Haack, former fellowship officer at the Graduate School, for excellent work making administrative improvements that benefit the campus community.

Haack is one of two individuals and three project teams recognized in this year’s Administrative Improvement Awards. He served as fellowship officer at the Graduate School from early 2020 until February 2022.

The UW–Madison Administrative Improvement Awards recognize outstanding work in process redesign, process development, or customer service that has resulted in benefits for the campus.

As fellowship officer, Haack introduced multiple initiatives to the Graduate School that have improved services and resources for students seeking off-campus fellowships.

Major funding organizations like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health offer competitive fellowships for which many UW–Madison graduate students apply. However, when Haack joined the Graduate School in early 2020, there were few centralized resources to help them through the application process.

“Nathaniel noticed this resource and service gap after his first year in the position,” said Christopher Yue, assistant dean for diversity, inclusion, and funding in the Graduate School. “There were very limited resources, both in terms of training and an easily accessible list of all possible fellowship activities, in early 2020.”

Haack sought feedback from students and faculty stakeholders to best determine what resources they would need, then used that feedback to develop better support for external fellowship applicants.

First, he expanded fellowship preparation workshops and seminars for applicants to learn about how to write effective fellowship applications, such as for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The workshops have included panel discussions with fellowship application reviewers, writing workshops in collaboration with the UW–Madison Writing Center, and panel discussions of previous fellowship awardees.

Next, Haack also began to provide individual consultations to graduate students applying for external fellowships. These consultations were met with overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, who noted that Haack’s help workshopping their application drafts and connecting them to other students who had one the same fellowship was invaluable.

Finally, Haack conceptualized and led the creation of a comprehensive database of external fellowships from private foundations and other funding sources. The external fellowship database launched in January 2021 and has since proven to be a popular source of information for students seeking fellowships.

Altogether, these initiatives have been shared broadly with national fellowship communities as an example of positive process improvement.

Haack was recognized with the Administrative Improvement Awards on March 8.