To: Faculty, Other Academic Appointees, and Graduate Students
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Update on Graduate Education Initiatives
Date: April 20, 2020
This Spring Quarter is unlike anything we expected. Many of you have had your academic or professional plans disrupted, and we are all operating with a high level of uncertainty. I appreciate how you have persevered and demonstrated flexibility, creativity, and resilience as we develop new ways of teaching and learning. While the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis is still unknown, I can assure you that the University is committed to maintaining our financial support to students and providing resources to help members of our campus community achieve their educational and research goals.
Continuing our work to strengthen doctoral programs and addressing issues identified in the Committee on Graduate Education (CGE) report are clear priorities for the University. Below please find an update on key initiatives and resources as well as opportunities to share input.
  • Graduate student space: As soon as we are able to gather safely in person again, the new graduate student lounge and multifunctional space, located on the fourth floor of the University bookstore on 58th Street, will be ready to open its doors. I am grateful to the student, faculty, and staff working group that spearheaded this effort and to Graduate Council for its ongoing leadership.
  • Student payments: A comprehensive review of the student payment systems, policies, and processes has been completed. We are implementing recommendations from the review, including improved training around, coordination, and standardization of policies and processes across the University. Students with questions or concerns related to payments can continue to contact
  • Student mental health: During this unexpected time of remote learning, students may access free and confidential counseling services by phone and via Zoom. Visit to connect to resources. The Student Wellness Center, scheduled to open later this year, will provide integrated care with more medical and mental health providers on staff. You can learn more about the new facility here.
  • Food access: In response to data from the CGE survey, we have allocated additional resources to UChicago programs that address food security among students. These programs have been modified for the Spring Quarter to include more local stores, prepared meal deliveries, and support for students living outside of the Chicago area. For more information, contact Student Support Services at
  • Grievance policies and procedures: A student, faculty, and staff committee has continued to work on recommendations for divisional and school policies and a University-wide review process to provide students with access to robust grievance processes. The committee will be reconvening this quarter, and students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to provide input on draft recommendations in coming weeks.
  • Housing and transportation: With the support of the Office of Facilities Services and UChicagoGRAD, the Graduate Student Housing and Transportation Committee reviewed key issues and will be reconvening this quarter to draft recommendations. Students, faculty, and staff will be invited to provide input later this quarter, with the goal of submitting recommendations to me before the end of the academic year.
  • Title IX training: The Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity Programs, Bridget Collier, has convened an advisory group of graduate students to evaluate content for sexual misconduct training. If you would like to offer input, please contact
  • Career resources: UChicagoGRAD has transitioned to remote services for Spring Quarter. As you consider career opportunities, advisors at UChicagoGRAD are available to discuss options and are creating online workshops and other resources tailored to the current job landscape. Visit to make appointments and sign up for workshops and webinars.
  • Conversations with graduate students: Even as we have moved to remote learning, I am continuing to hold small group conversations via Zoom to hear directly from students. If you would like to participate or suggest a topic, please submit your interest here.
  • Faculty mentoring: A new workshop series that launched during the Winter Quarter helps faculty strengthen their skills as mentors. Additional trainings and resources are available here. For more information, contact Cheryl R. Richardson, Director of Inclusive Teaching Initiatives, at
  • PhD framework and funding model: As announced in October 2019, the University is moving toward a new approach for supporting and funding PhD programs in four schools and divisions. The new model will go fully into effect in the 2022-23 academic year, and faculty and staff are working on implementation plans.
  • PhD program data: The CGE report recommended increased availability of information for current and prospective students about specific programs. Last June, we released data on admissions, enrollment, and career outcomes for PhD programs. Those data were updated in January and will be updated annually.
Even in a time of physical distancing, I am committed to helping ensure that our students have the academic, financial, and programmatic resources they need to be successful, and that our faculty and other academic appointees are able to fully engage in developing outstanding undergraduate and graduate programs and in educating the next generation of scholars. If you would like to share ideas or feedback with me, please submit this form.
I look forward to working with you to continue these important efforts.
Graduate Education
Policy and Administration