To: Faculty, Other Academic Appointees, and Graduate Students
From: Daniel Diermeier, Provost
Subject: Update on PhD Education
Date: December 9, 2019
I want to update you on our efforts to strengthen doctoral education at the University by ensuring students have the resources and support they need to be able to focus fully on their academic pursuits and produce field-defining research. The Committee on Graduate Education’s report earlier this year continues to guide these efforts, with our latest work focused on several important areas:
  • PhD student funding: Last month we announced a new framework for PhD education, which includes guaranteed funding to Divinity, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Social Service Administration students for the duration of their programs, mentored teaching experiences that are separated from funding, and a total program size for each participating school and division. It also provides new resources for all graduate students and faculty including enhanced career support and mentoring resources among others. This new approach ensures that students can fully focus on advancing their research and other degree requirements. Once the model is fully implemented in the 2022-23 academic year, we will have increased the number of funded PhD students in those schools and divisions by 15 percent over last year.
  • Commitment to graduate student diversity: Our culture of rigorous inquiry depends on an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences, and ideas inform and stimulate intellectual debate and engagement. Our new PhD framework maintains and strengthens our commitment to recruiting, supporting, and graduating diverse students. All central funding sources that support PhD students have been incorporated in the new model and we are increasing the overall level of funding. If there are additional ways we can support departments and programs in recruiting and supporting excellent and diverse students, please contact UChicagoGRAD or Vice Provost Melissa Gilliam.
  • Faculty/student mentoring: A critical component of the new PhD framework is providing faculty with resources to become more effective mentors and provide meaningful and timely feedback to students, particularly at crucial points in their academic progression. While program development is ongoing, the Chicago Center for Teaching will offer initial workshops for faculty on January 16 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Additional information will be available in the coming weeks.
  • Graduate student space: As Vice Provost Daniel Abebe recently announced, we have identified the fourth floor of the bookstore as a dedicated graduate student space for meeting, studying, socializing, and other needs. Over the summer and fall, a graduate student working group provided input to Facilities Services and UChicagoGRAD, including, most recently, holding an open meeting with Graduate Council to solicit additional student input on the space’s design and configuration. The design team is finalizing the plans with the goal of opening the space by the end of Winter Quarter.
  • Grievance policies: A committee of graduate students, faculty, and staff is reviewing school and divisional grievance policies and policies at peer institutions to help make recommendations to increase consistency in policies across our campus and create a University-wide grievance appeal process. The committee will submit a report to the Office of the Provost by the end of Winter Quarter. You can provide input to their work here.
  • Housing and transportation: A committee, also composed of graduate students, staff, and faculty, is assessing housing and transportation issues graduate students face, including availability and cost in neighborhoods adjacent to the University. Again, we invite you to provide input.
  • Student input: Based on the recommendation of a student member of the Committee on Graduate Education, I have met with several small groups of graduate students for focused discussions on topics such as the post-graduation job market, faculty mentoring, and key issues for graduate students across the divisions and schools. The Vice Provosts will continue holding these conversations, and If you would like to participate in one of these small-group discussions, please submit this form. We also welcome your input on topics for these discussions.
  • Payment audit: All systems, policies, and practices across the University that impact payments to graduate students are being audited so that we can address the problems of late or incorrect payments. I encourage graduate students to provide input on this issue via email to
  • Sexual misconduct training: The Committee on Graduate Education report indicated that graduate students want more information about their Title IX reporting obligations and more tailored mandatory trainings. The Office of Equal Opportunity Programs has created a new video about reporting possible sexual misconduct. In addition, the Office for Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Support will work with a committee of graduate students to review the annual required training from the graduate student perspective, benchmark against peer institutions, and explore other training options. Graduate students interested in serving on this committee should email
  • Food access: In response to the findings of a survey conducted by the Committee on Graduate Education, several existing programs aimed at addressing food access have been expanded, including options for graduate and professional students to access campus dining locations for meals, the Spring Break Meal Program, and a program offering vouchers to local grocery stores. We are also developing several potential new programs in partnership with students, UChicagoGRAD, and other campus stakeholders. For more information or to provide input, please contact Student Support Services at
Much has been accomplished since the Committee on Graduate Education submitted its report in March, and it is a result of the engagement and commitment of the numerous graduate students, faculty, deans, and staff who supported this work. The University community will continue to work together to ensure graduate students have the support they need to succeed in their degree programs.


Graduate Education
Policy and Administration