Daniel Diermeier: Update on Graduate Education

May 30, 2019

To: Faculty, OAAs, Students, and Staff
From: Daniel Diermeier, Provost
Subject: Update on Graduate Education
Date: May 30, 2019

Last month, we advanced several of the recommendations in the Committee on Graduate Education’s report; today, I write to update you on progress and next steps. This work is being done in collaboration with graduate students and faculty to strengthen our PhD education across campus.
The report highlighted various areas that required additional analysis to identify solutions. In these instances, we formed committees and working groups consisting of graduate students, faculty, and staff to make specific recommendations. These include:

    Graduate student on-campus space needs, chaired by Alicia Berg, Assistant Vice President for Campus Planning;

    Grievance policies and procedures, chaired by Vice Provost Jason Merchant;

    Housing and transportation, chaired by Angelica Marks, Associate Vice President for Real Estate Operations.

    In addition, a working group will be established in Autumn 2019 to discuss improvements to mandatory sexual misconduct training for graduate students, led by the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs in partnership with the Student Advisory Board on Sexual Misconduct.

In response to the late, incorrect, and irregular payments to graduate students cited in the report, I have asked the University’s internal auditors to conduct a comprehensive audit and develop recommendations to improve our processes related to graduate student payments. As I stated before, late or incorrect payments are completely unacceptable and any graduate student experiencing an issue with payment should contact gradhelp@uchicago.edu.
Finally, work is well underway in two significant areas:

    A holistic review of PhD programs (including faculty mentoring, teaching, career support, and late attrition);

    Improved funding for PhD students and reform of the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI).

In addition, the Office of the Provost will continue to host regular conversations with graduate students on a variety of topics.
As the academic year draws to a close it’s important to acknowledge how much has been accomplished this year through collaboration among graduate students, faculty, and staff. I’m grateful to the many individuals who have shared their opinions and ideas, served on working groups or committees, and demonstrated a willingness to engage in the challenging task of, in the words of the Committee, creating “a new paradigm in doctoral education.” We should be pleased with our progress, but much work remains. I look forward to our continued collaboration in improving doctoral education at the University of Chicago.

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