Author: Holsinger, Kent

The Graduate School Annual Report 2021-2022

Colleagues,

Every year the Provost’s Office asks us to submit an annual report of activities and accomplishments. You will find this year’s report on our website. View the report by downloading the PDF. Last year’s report identified three priorities:

  • Improving graduate student advising
  • Analyzing policies for racially disparate outcomes
  • Building our capacity to support minoritized graduate students

Although we have much work left to do on each of these priorities, I am pleased that we made some progress on all of them in addition to a variety of activities that advance our strategic plan. In addition to the usual graphs and tables on applications, enrollment, and degree conferral. This year’s report also includes preliminary results from a survey conducted in Spring 2022 to gauge the quality of graduate student experiences at UConn.

If you have any questions about the report, please let me know.

Kent Holsinger

 

 

 

 

NIH Supplements to Support Diversity Mentorship

Sent on behalf of Kent Holsinger, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School to Department Heads, Directors of Graduate Studies, and Graduate Admins. Please share as appropriate.

Colleagues,

The University of Connecticut is committed to building a diverse and inclusive community. As part of that effort, I wanted to let you know that faculty who hold active grants from the National Institutes of Health may be eligible for supplements to their awards to Recognize Excellence in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. The supplements provide up to $250,000 in direct costs to perform additional research within the scope of the original project, develop curricula or training activities, or to foster the research career development of additional students or postdocs. Proposals are due by 7 April 2022. Please visit this site for a brief overview of the opportunity and visit the link above for complete details.

Please let me know if there are ways in which The Graduate School can help you prepare a competitive proposal for one of these supplements.

— 

Kent E. HolsingerBoard of Trustees Distinguished ProfessorVice Provost for Graduate Educationand Dean of the Graduate School

The Graduate School’s BIPOC Graduate Student Support Report

Following the national incidents of racism and racial injustice in Summer 2020, The Graduate School began to reflect, study, and discuss how we can better serve Black, Indigenous, and/or Person of Color (BIPOC) graduate students at the University of Connecticut. This process involved many campus partners, including graduate faculty, staff, cultural centers and other University offices, graduate student organizations, and graduate students, and it produced the following report, which is also available on The Graduate School’s website.

The report outlines our process, our findings, and, most importantly, our priorities. We will use these priorities to guide our work in 2021-2022 and beyond with the goal of improving the experiences of BIPOC graduate students at UConn.

While the written report is final, our work to support BIPOC graduate students is never done, and our approaches will evolve as we learn more from our attempts to improve the experience of BIPOC graduate students. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions, and we look forward to making a UConn a welcoming and inclusive place for all of our students.

Kent

Kent E. Holsinger
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
and Dean of The Graduate School
University of Connecticut

The Graduate School’s Strategic Plan

I write today to share the final version of The Graduate School’s strategic plan outlining our vision for the future of The Graduate School. An earlier draft of this plan was greatly improved by feedback from the Executive Committee of The Graduate School and from a variety of campus partners, faculty, and staff.

The final version of our strategic plan introduces the vision to which The Graduate School aspires, and it describes our mission as a set of activities grouped within three broad themes—innovation, community, and service—that will guide our work through 2026.

Kent

Kent E. Holsinger
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
and Dean of The Graduate School
University of Connecticut

Important Information for Graduate Students Studying Outside the U.S.

We are aware that travel to the US from some parts of the world is still difficult and that some of our international students may be considering whether to enroll in courses from their home country this fall. If the student will be engaged in research, their work may be subject to export control laws, which are federal regulations governing the sharing and use of certain information, technologies, and commodities overseas. I am writing to let you know that graduate students, whether domestic or international, who will be outside of the US for most or all of the semester and who anticipate enrolling in a course that is outside of the standard education abroad program content (e.g., GRAD 5950/6950/5999/6999, an independent study, or a departmental research course) should obtain approval before finalizing their fall enrollment. In some cases, export control review will be required for enrollment in these courses. Export control review can take several weeks—we advise that students plan with this timeline in mind. If a student proceeds without prior approval and export control review reveals a significant concern, they may need to withdraw from the course in question. If they are required to withdraw, there could be financial implications, including only a partial return of tuition according to the university refund schedule, a requirement to return a portion of any financial aid they received, or both.

To obtain approval, the student should contact graduatedean@uconn.edu with the following information:

  • Field of study
  • Proposed course enrollment (catalog number and course name)
  • Brief (one-two sentences only) summary of research topic
  • Country of citizenship
  • Country where courses will be taken/research conducted abroad
  • List of any special equipment/computer hardware/software that is not commercially available to be used while abroad

Remote Work for GAs and Tuition Remission

Colleagues,

I am writing with guidance about graduate assistants working while outside the U.S.

Remote Work

GAs provide vital teaching and research service to the University, and some of this work might be possible remotely. GAs who are here in the U.S. are able to work remotely, provided they have supervisor approval and that the responsibilities of the position can be completed from the remote location. Last year, the University made a one-time exception to allow a limited number of GAs to work from outside the U.S. during 2020/2021 because of the exceptional hardship associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. I anticipate that the University will require all GAs to be in the United States to hold an appointment in Fall 2021 and beyond.

The employment, labor, and tax obligations to which GAs are subject when outside of the U.S. are those of the country from which they are working, even if they are working on behalf of an employer like UConn that is located in the U.S. In some cases, accepting a paycheck from UConn could expose an individual to personal liability and potentially significant consequences in the country where they reside. As a result, the University has determined that graduate students must be here in the U.S. in order to work as a GA and are expected to remain in the U.S. for the duration of their appointment. (Please remember that GAs have a right to 10 days off for a 1-semester appointment or 20 days off for an academic year appointment. With the approval of their GA supervisor, a GA could leave the country before the end of their Fall appointment and return after the beginning of their Spring appointment, treating the days outside the U.S. as time off.)

Deferring Admission

Incoming graduate students to whom departments offered a graduate assistantship in Fall 2021 and who are unlikely to be able to arrive by the start date of their appointment are strongly encouraged to defer admission to a later date or to take advantage of the tuition remission option described below. Students may request a deferral through the Accounts & Forms area of their Application Status page. The request will then be routed to the program for review and approval. Please consult The Graduate School (gradadmissions@uconn.edu) with any questions regarding the deferral process.

 

Tuition Remission

The University will allow any graduate students that would be graduate assistants in Fall 2021 and are unable to arrive in the U.S. to enroll in courses without a tuition charge. Students who received tuition remission last year will be eligible for tuition remission again. Departments who want to offer this option must make it available to all GAs who would have held an assistantship in Fall 2021 and are unable to come to the U.S., and they should provide The Graduate School with a list of those students (name and 7-digit Student ID) and a copy of the student’s GA offer letter at graduatedean@uconn.edu by August 15th. Students receiving tuition remission are still personally responsible for remitting their student fees according to the deadlines published by the Office of the Bursar.

If you have any questions, please send them to graduatedean@uconn.edu, and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Kent Holsinger

Kent E. Holsinger
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School

Template for Annual Reviews for Doctoral Students

As part of an ongoing effort to foster good graduate student mentoring and facilitate communication between graduate advisors and advisees, The Graduate School has developed a template for annual reviews for doctoral (and potentially other) students.  The purpose is to provide a tool that programs can use to: (1) allow students to report and reflect on their progress and accomplishments during the previous year and plan their activities and efforts for the coming year, and (2) aid major advisors in providing their graduate students with feedback on their progress to date and plans.   The template is attached, along with examples of similar forms currently being used by some departments (English, Marine Sciences, and Psychology).  The template draws from examples such as these, and incorporates feedback received from the Graduate Faculty Council and the Executive Committee.

Importantly, the template is designed to be customizable.  We anticipate that programs will modify it — adding, changing, or deleting items – to suit the specific needs of their programs.  Although use of this or any form is purely voluntary (i.e., there is no Graduate School requirement that annual reviews of this sort be conducted), we strongly urge programs to institute a process based on some version of a tool like this.

We are distributing this template now so that programs that want to do so can use it this academic year.  However, we view this as a “living document” that we will be revising as we receive feedback on it.  In addition, we will be developing guidance/tips on implementations suggestions and strategies that we will be posting on the TGS website, along with the template itself, over the coming months.

Download Template

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding the template itself or its use, please reach out to us at kent.holsinger@uconn.edu or Kathleen.segerson@uconn.edu.

Kent E. Holsinger
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
 and Dean of The Graduate School

Kathleen Segerson
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor
Associate Dean of The Graduate School

 

Strategic Plan Seeking Public Comment

Research, scholarship, and creative activity are vitally important to the University of Connecticut, and excellence in these areas rests on a foundation of excellence in graduate and postdoctoral education. As the home for graduate and postdoctoral education at UConn, The Graduate School supports a thriving community of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and oversees graduate programs in every academic discipline.

Over the past eight months staff of The Graduate School have developed a strategic plan that outlines our vision for the future of The Graduate School. The Executive Committee of The Graduate School, which consists of nine members of the graduate faculty, provided extensive comments on the plan as it was being developed.

We invite comments from all members of the UConn community on the draft of the strategic plan you find here. Comments received before 10 May will play a vital role in making final revisions before we adopt the plan in June.

Thank you for taking the time to share your insights.

grad.uconn.edu/strategic-plan

Guidance for departments concerning GAs abroad in Fall 2021

Colleagues,

I am writing to provide some guidance concerning GA appointments for Fall 2021. You may recall that our contract with graduate assistants require that incoming students be notified of appointments by April 1st and that continuing students be notified by June 15th. The contract includes a provision recognizing that in “exceptional circumstances” notification may come later than these dates. In making decisions about GA offers for next fall, please keep in mind that the University made a one-time exception to allow a limited number of GAs to work from outside the US during 2020/2021 because of the exceptional hardship associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. I anticipate that the University will require all GAs to be in the United States to hold an appointment in Fall 2021 and beyond. Please keep this in mind when making GA appointments for Fall 2021.

Kent Holsinger  

GA Employment Outside the U.S. Spring 2021 Update

Dear Graduate Students,

COVID-19 has placed enormous stress on all graduate students, and the travel restrictions associated with it have placed an especially large burden on international graduate students. Most international graduate students have remained here since the pandemic began, and may be isolated from not only your University communities, but also your friends and families in your home countries. We know these past seven months have been very difficult, and we want you to know that we are here to support you in the months ahead. Many of you are wondering about whether you should travel over the winter holidays and whether you can hold a graduate assistantship and perform the duties associated with it while you are outside the U.S. I am writing to you with information that I hope you will find useful as you make your plans.

GAs provide vital teaching and research service to the University, and some of this work might be possible remotely. GAs who are here in the U.S. are able to work remotely, provided they have supervisor approval and that the responsibilities of the position can be completed from the remote location. GAs who are outside the United States, however are subject to the employment, labor, and tax obligations of the country from which they are working, even if they are working on behalf of an employer like UConn that is located in the U.S. In some cases, accepting a paycheck from UConn could expose an individual to personal liability and other significant consequences in the country where they reside.

We continue to try to balance the University’s commitment to supporting our graduate students with our concern that some well-intentioned efforts could place students at risk in their home country. Therefore, GAs are expected to be in the U.S. by the start date of their Spring semester appointment and remain in the U.S. for the duration of that appointment. Remote employment taking place outside the United States must be approved in advance by The Graduate School, and will only be approved under extremely limited circumstances described in the following guidelines. These guidelines were developed in conjunction with the Office of the Provost, the Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of Global Affairs.

  • Graduate students who leave for winter break and who expect to hold graduate assistantships in Spring 2021 are expected to make every effort to arrive in the U.S. to begin the responsibilities of their Spring semester appointment (and no later than the semester start date of January 19, 2021). International students are advised to consult with ISSS about the likelihood of being able to return to the U.S. in time for Spring 2021 before making travel plans.
  • GAs will only be considered to work from abroad for Spring 2021 in the event that new travel restrictions or travel related circumstances that were not in place at the time of departure prevent them from returning to the U.S. Students may review current U.S. entry restrictions, and current global travel restrictions. The Graduate School will also consider changes to local travel conditions (i.e. flight cancellations, local lockdowns) when considering your emergent circumstances.
    • In the case of a GA who chooses to leave the country and is unable to return because of travel restrictions that prevent return, the department may request approval for work abroad, but approval will be subject to export control and grant restrictions. Approval will take at least several days and could take several weeks. You should understand that you may be placed on unpaid leave while the request is reviewed.
  • Prior approval to work remotely while abroad for Fall 2020 does not guarantee approval to work remotely while abroad in Spring 2021. A new request for each student must be submitted by the department and each request will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Please be sure to consult your ISSS advisor with any questions you have about your visa status and for updates on travel restrictions to and from the U.S.

If you have any questions, please send them to graduatedean@uconn.edu, and we will respond as quickly as possible.