Vice Provost: Graduate Student Welcome

To: University of Chicago Graduate Students
From: Daniel Abebe, Vice Provost
Subject: Graduate Student Welcome
Date: October 2, 2018

I hope this message finds you well.

When I first arrived at the University of Chicago in 2004 as a PhD student, I never imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to help improve the quality of graduate student life at this great University. Now, almost exactly 14 years later, in my new role as Vice Provost and faculty director of UChicagoGRAD, I consider it a privilege and also responsibility to draw on my wide-ranging experience at UChicago—as a graduate student, fellow, faculty member, and administrator—to enhance the experience of all graduate students.

Whether this is your first quarter or your last, UChicagoGRAD is continuously striving to be a meaningful resource for students and postdocs across the divisions and schools. I hope you will make your way to their offices on the third floor of the University bookstore. Visit early and often to get help with identifying and applying for fellowships, honing your writing and public speaking skills, and preparing for internships and full-time jobs in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government. Whatever the need, UChicagoGRAD staff members are there to help you.

UChicagoGRAD programs and events are also a great place to meet fellow graduate students. Your peers and their varied perspectives are such important resources to expand your scholarship and professional networks and to broaden your horizons. Our graduate student community is strengthened by its diversity, and I am committed to ensuring that all graduate students from across the country and the world can find their place at the University.

In the life of graduate students, there are important intellectual conversations to be had, mysteries to research and solve, social issues to grapple with, and personal and professional relationships to navigate. There are also the day-to-day administrative details of being a graduate student that can, at their best, facilitate a rich graduate experience, and at their worst, complicate your path to success. As I begin my first year as faculty director of UChicagoGRAD, I want to fully understand the challenges that you face so we can improve administrative processes and make your experience at the University as stimulating and enjoyable as possible.

To that end, I look forward to learning from the important work of the Graduate Education Committee, which consists of graduate students and faculty members who were charged in the spring to assess the graduate student experience. The Committee has continued its work over the summer and conducted a comprehensive online survey of graduate students, the results of which will be shared in the coming weeks. The Committee has also consulted with faculty, administrators, and students, and is currently conducting an online survey of faculty to gather additional perspectives. We continue to welcome your input surrounding the graduate student experience. If you have questions or suggestions, you can always contact the student members of the Committee at gradexperience@uchicago.edu.

I am excited by the opportunity to work with Graduate Council this year, and I invite you to join the dialogue by getting involved in your local graduate student councils and advisory boards. Meeting students and hearing your ideas is crucial to understanding the graduate student experience, evaluating it, and making improvements. I know that Graduate Council is eager to represent the diverse needs of all graduate students but it needs your help to do that. Please join us in this important conversation.

We are eager to continue to evolve the graduate student experience on campus. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your departmental administrators, deans of students, and UChicagoGRAD staff with feedback, questions, and concerns. There is a network of staff on campus who are dedicated to supporting your success. You can also always email askthegargoyle@uchicago.edu with any ideas, suggestions, and questions.

With Autumn Quarter underway, another great year at the University has already begun, and I wish you a productive and enjoyable 2018-19.