To: Faculty, Other Academic Appointees, and Graduate Students
From: Ka Yee C. Lee, Provost
Subject: Update on Graduate Education Initiatives
Date: December 2, 2021
The University of Chicago has a deep, long-standing commitment to graduate education. The Committee on Graduate Education, in its comprehensive report with recommendations for improving the graduate student experience at the University, emphasized the importance of student participation and involvement in decision-making processes. Thanks to the dedicated effort of students, faculty, and staff involved in various committees and working groups, we have addressed some of the key issues identified in the report and periodically share our ongoing progress with members of the campus community. I write today to provide another update on these efforts.
Student Life
  • Graduate student space: A new graduate student lounge opened this quarter. This multi-functional space, imagined and designed by the Graduate Student Space Working Group, was originally scheduled to open in Spring Quarter 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic. With the resumption of on-campus activities this quarter, the student lounge, located on the fourth floor of the University bookstore building above UChicagoGRAD, opened in October.
  • International Graduate Student Advisory Board (IGSAB): In partnership with the elected graduate student government Graduate Council and the Office of International Affairs, UChicagoGRAD is starting an advisory board for international students. Modeled after the Diversity Advisory Board, IGSAB will enrich the academic, personal, and professional experiences of international graduate students at UChicago, and advise UChicagoGRAD on issues specific to international students.
Academic and Career Resources
  • Career services: It is never too early to start preparing for life after UChicago. UChicagoGRAD advisors are back on campus and eager to work with graduate students on career exploration, resume and job materials workshops, and other experiential opportunities to help them prepare for the job market.
  • GRADTalk public speaking training: As academic and professional conferences resume, students can make an appointment with GRADTalk advisors to hone public speaking skills for both in-person and remote presentations. Advisors can also help with strategies for effective classroom participation and instruction after the many months of virtual interactions.
  • Graduate course feedback: In the Spring Quarter, we launched a standardized graduate course feedback form developed by faculty, staff, and a student representative from Graduate Council. Quantitative and qualitative feedback provided by students enrolled in graduate courses is now available online.
  • Title IX training and outreach: Based on feedback from a student advisory group, the University adapted its existing mandatory bystander intervention training to make it relevant for addressing sexual harassment, misconduct, and bias in lab environments. A new Lab Culture and Climate workshop has also been added to the suite of trainings offered by Equal Opportunity Programs. For more information, contact Vickie Sides, Director of Education and Outreach at UChicago CARES, at
Administrative Improvements
  • Student payments: We continue making systems and process improvements to ensure that students receive accurate stipend amounts and other payments on a predictable timeline, as recommended by the Committee on Graduate Education. Students who have questions or who identify payment errors should contact for review and resolution.
  • Grievance policies and procedures: Last spring, the Graduate Student Grievance Committee, consisting of students, faculty, and staff, submitted its report, including a recommendation that the Office of the Provost assigns an individual with responsibility for implementing the recommendations. I have asked UChicagoGRAD to hire a staff member to undertake this important work, and I look forward to making progress on the committee’s recommendations in the coming months.
  • 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 initially launched one-page sheets with data such as admissions, enrollment, and career outcomes for each PhD program at the University. We continue to publish updated data for PhD programs, now available in an interactive format that allows analysis across years and that is being upgraded to improve accessibility.
Transportation, Safety, and Security
  • Transportation: In response to the Graduate Housing and Transportation Committee and other members of the campus community who recommended increased connectivity between campus and the Red and Green Line “L” trains, the University added the Red Line/Arts Block Route to the UGo Shuttle route this quarter. Students also highlighted the importance of transportation flexibility, and we instituted the new Lyft Ride Smart at UChicago program, providing students with 10 free Lyft rides per month during late-night hours within the campus service area. The program was initially available on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, but due to continued concerns regarding safety, it will remain available seven days per week with expanded hours through the end of the calendar year. The University is assessing long-term options for the program and will communicate any further changes at the start of Winter Quarter.
  • Safety and security: In the wake of the tragic murder of Shaoxiong “Dennis” Zheng, we have worked closely with the Chicago Police Department to increase police patrols on and around campus and enhance the use of security technology in Hyde Park. We are also working closely with Mayor Lightfoot, local aldermen, and other Chicago public and community leaders to develop new short-and long-term safety initiatives and are getting input on these efforts from members of our campus and local communities. More information will be shared in the coming weeks. Please visit the University’s safety and security website for additional safety information and resources.
President Paul Alivisatos has been on a listening tour of campus and is spending immersion days in each division and school. As he hears about graduate education directly from you, your voices will help shape the future of graduate education and will also impact the University’s significant investment to support graduate education annually. I continue to be grateful to UChicagoGRAD, the deans of students’ offices, and the student leaders of Graduate Council and the UChicagoGRAD Diversity Advisory Board for all of their work to support graduate education. I encourage you to learn more about these resources and to continue sharing your ideas for enhancing the graduate student experience.
Graduate Education