Collaboration to Improve Graduate Student Experience

From: Nick Williams (@williamsn) and Joseph Dang (@Joseph_Dang)
Date: Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 3:18 PM
Subject: Collaboration to Improve Graduate Student Experience

To: Graduate Students
From: Nick Williams and Joseph Dang, Co-Presidents, Graduate Council
Subject: Collaboration to Improve Graduate Student Experience
Date: April 5, 2018

Dear Graduate and Professional Student Colleagues,

We are writing as a follow up to recent emails regarding the University’s efforts to catalyze a campus-wide conversation about graduate education and improve the experience of graduate students at UChicago. Prior efforts to study and improve the University’s approach to graduate education—such as the influential Baker Report of 1982—have been largely faculty-driven, with minimal student involvement. We believe that student involvement and leadership in the graduate education improvement initiative is both possible and necessary.

In the coming weeks Executive Vice Provost David Nirenberg will name a committee of faculty representing programs from across the Divisions and Schools and ask it to comprehensively assess the state of graduate education at the University. The Graduate Council, working together with the various deans’ councils, will be selecting an equally representative committee of students from across degree programs and fields of study to work together with the faculty committee in developing that assessment. The Graduate Council and the Office of the Provost will consult with each other to ensure broad representation in both groups. The resulting joint student and faculty committee will together, and through discussions with the broader community, engage in a holistic review of graduate education, research, and experience at the University.

The joint student and faculty committee will be charged with providing the Provost with their assessment of what is working well, and what is not, in our collective graduate enterprise, recognizing that faculty and students have overlapping but different roles in that enterprise. The joint committee will have wide latitude to determine what issues will be addressed, but there are many that, based on what we’ve heard, we expect will be included as part of the assessment. These issues include: appropriate ongoing roles for graduate students in decision-making that affects graduate students, housing, mentoring and faculty advising, teaching preparation and opportunities, career planning, grievance procedures, support for student parents, health insurance and health care issues, and the financing of graduate education.

We and the Office of the Provost believe that a great research university requires a strong partnership between its graduate students and its faculty, and hope that you will participate in this process, either as a member of the student committee or as an active participant in the convened discussions. We will be communicating with you shortly about student participation and will continue to keep you up to date about our efforts. Please do not hesitate to be in touch with us directly at and