To: Faculty, Other Academic Appointees, and Graduate Students
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Update on Graduate Education Initiatives
Date: April 5, 2021
 
The critical work to improve graduate education and address issues identified in the Committee on Graduate Education report continues, thanks to the dedicated effort of faculty, students, and staff. I am writing to provide an update on key initiatives and resources.
 
Funding, payment, and program data transparency improvements
  • PhD funding: We continue to prioritize financial support so students can make progress toward degree completion. The University-wide minimum 12-month amount for funded PhD students will increase next year to $32,000.
  • Student payments: As of March 1, stipend payments have transitioned to Workday, the University’s human resources and payments system. The move to a single payment system will help ensure accurate and timely graduate student payments, as recommended by the Committee on Graduate Education and the subsequent internal payments review. If you have questions or identify payment errors, contact gradhelp@uchicago.edu for review and resolution.
  • PhD program data: In response to the Committee on Graduate Education’s recommendation to increase the availability of information for current and prospective students, we continue to publish updated data on admissions, enrollment, and career outcomes for PhD programs. The new interactive format allows analysis across years.
 
Student life
  • Graduate student space: While the pandemic has delayed the opening of the new graduate student lounge and multifunctional space on the fourth floor of the University bookstore, UChicagoGRAD and Graduate Council have created a Virtual Graduate Student Lounge with office hours, a drop-in study room, and regular social events.
  • Food access: The food assistance program offers Hyde Park Produce vouchers and Meal Exchange swipes at Hutchinson Commons and Logan Café. To apply, visit the Student Support Services website.
  • Student health and wellness: The new Student Wellness Center provides medical, mental health, and wellness services in one location. Virtual and in-person services are available.
 
Academic and Career Services
 
Committee Updates
The Committee on Graduate Education emphasized the need for student participation and involvement in decision-making processes. Thank you to the students who have participated in the working groups and committees, helped determine and write the policies and recommendations in these areas, and provided important feedback.
  • Graduate course feedback: A standardized graduate student course feedback form, developed by faculty, staff, and a student representative from Graduate Council, will be offered starting this quarter.
  • Housing and transportation: The committee has submitted its report and recommendations for consideration. Over the course of the next year, we will consider how best to implement the recommendations, with a plan for eventually phasing in the expansion of graduate housing services within UChicagoGRAD.
  • Grievance policies and procedures: The committee, consisting of faculty, staff, and students, is on track to submit its recommendations by the end of the quarter.
  • Title IX training: Graduate students collaborated with the Office of the Provost to select the vendor for the Title IX required training. The Student Advisory Group is now reviewing bystander intervention training resources to ensure relevance for lab environments, small cohort programs, and other graduate populations.
 
Although we have been physically apart this year, we remain connected as a community. The staff at UChicagoGRAD and the deans of students are committed to ensuring graduate students have the support they need. I am grateful to the student leaders of Graduate Council and the UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board for their partnership and leadership, and I encourage you to reach out to them with input on how we can continue to enhance the graduate student experience.

Keywords: 
Graduate Education