Graduate Faculty Onboarding

“A profusion of research over the past two decades has confirmed the significance and profound impact of faculty mentorship on the success of graduate students.” (Research in Higher Education Journal) 

Welcome to the Graduate Faculty

This website provides a variety of resources you will find useful as you begin to advise and mentor graduate students at the University of Connecticut. The resources include both general advice on how to mentor graduate students and specific information about specific UConn policies affecting graduate students that you need to be aware of as you advise students on their course of study. As I mentioned in my email welcoming you to the graduate faculty, a recent survey of graduate students at UConn showed that the mentorship graduate faculty provide is one of the things they value most highly about their education. Their feelings are consistent with more than two decades of research that also shows that graduate student success is strongly correlated with strong student-faculty relationships built on a foundation of integrity and trust (Research in Higher Education Journal).

As you will see when you explore this page, we provide far more resources than you could possibly read in a single sitting. You are also likely to find that you’ve forgotten some of the good ideas you’ve read here if you haven’t thought about them for a few months. I encourage you to bookmark this page and review the resources you find useful once or twice a year. In fact, if you return once or twice a year, there’s a good chance you’ll find something here that you didn’t see before. We are continuously adding new resources as we find or develop them.

And if you have questions about things that you can’t find the answer to here, or if you know about resources that could be helpful to other faculty, please let us know by emailing gradschool@uconn.edu. We look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions as we all work to help our students succeed.

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

Nuts and Bolts for Academic Success

You serve an important role in helping your graduate students navigate the logistics of graduate education. We have collected some advising-related resources that you may wish to refer your students to or reference during advising meetings. 

Information for Advisors

Information for Advisors

  • You can view your advisees through Student Admin. If any of the students for whom you will be serving as major advisor are not yet assigned to you, the student can request that their major advisor be updated through the Change of Graduate Major Advisor form. 
  • The Graduate Catalog outlines both The Graduate School and program requirements for each graduate degree offered, as well as academic regulations. 
  • The Office of the Registrar’s Degree Audit team has created a comprehensive resource page, Steps to a Successful Graduation, that details, by degree type, exactly what a graduate student will need to submit in order to successfully complete their degree. 
  • The Graduate School has gathered resources on our Advising and Mentoring webpage to help you provide the best support to your graduate students. 
  • The Graduate Faculty Council (GFC) provides leadership in developing academic policies. Each academic department has a representative that serves on GFC, so you can always reach out to your department rep if you have questions or concerns that you believe the Council should consider.  
  • The Graduate School staff are available to support you.

Annual Academic Reviews

Annual Reviews are critical for the success of your graduate 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 resources that can help departments and advisors use annual reviews for doctoral and MFA students, including a customizable template. 

Timely Topics

Timely Topics is a series of opportunities to engage with subject matter experts on topics relevant to those who support and advise graduate students and programs. Many of the sessions focus on topics that graduate faculty will find helpful, such as Information for New Graduate Faculty Advisors, Advising International Students, and Supporting Graduate Students with Disabilities.

Mentoring Graduate Students

The guidance that you offer through mentorship can be transformative and is a critical factor in graduate students’ academic success and well-being.  While mentoring styles vary across faculty members and specific academic disciplines, there are fundamentals to mentoring that can be applied across the graduate education experience.  Here are a few resources that range from career conversations to “how to” information that can help contribute to successful mentoring relationships with graduate students.

Graduate Student Mentoring: A Mentor’s Guide

In collaboration with faculty, professional staff, and graduate students from across the University and endorsed by the Graduate Faculty Council, The Graduate School developed "Graduate Student Mentoring: A Mentor's Guide", a set of best practices for graduate faculty and departments at UConn. The practices outlined are intended as a baseline to graduate student mentoring, and you may find it helpful to include the approaches discussed in your own mentoring and advising relationships. In addition to the best practices discussed in the guide, departments and programs are also encouraged to develop specific guidelines as it pertains to their programmatic needs.

Being a Career Counselor

The Center for Career Development is committed to providing information, resources, and tools to your advisees, with specific content tailored to help graduate students explore and achieve their career goals.

To honor the concept of “Career Everywhere”, the Center for Career Development is committed to partnering with faculty and staff to provide them with information, resources, tools, and referral language to help empower our students to identify and achieve their career aspirations. View full details on their website here.

The Center has co-developed an online Inclusive Career Conversations Training: Reducing Biases and Career Disparagement & Bullying, which takes about 45 minutes to complete and consists of five interactive and self-paced modules. By completing the modules, you can:

  • Increase your awareness about what characterizes healthy and unhealthy career conversations, both as the contributor and recipient of career advice;
  • Equip yourself with knowledge and tools to engage in supportive career conversations. 

To enroll in the Inclusive Career Conversations TrainingReducing Biases and Career Disparagement & Bullying, please reach out to Kay.Gruder@UConn.edu

Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER)

The Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) is focused on improving research mentoring relationships. Their website provides resources in a variety of areas, including career development and culturally aware mentoring.

“I’m Chairing My First Dissertation. What Do I Do?”

Inside Higher Ed posted a recent article, "I'm Chairing My First Dissertation. What Do I Do?", that provides a helpful blueprint for faculty new to the role of major advisor.

The Edward C. Marth Mentorship Award

This Edward C. Marth Mentorship Award highlights the importance of mentorship at UConn by recognizing UConn Graduate Faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding commitment and effectiveness as mentors to graduate students during the course of their careers. The award is accompanied by a monetary prize and an invitation to speak at the doctoral commencement ceremony.

Supporting Graduate Student Mental Health and Well Being

Your work with graduate students provides opportunities to support graduate student mental health and well-being. You can promote mental health and well-being through your academic and work expectations, check in with your students about their well-being, and connect them to campus resources and providers as needed. We have collected some resources below to help you determine when to refer a student for additional support and how to simply check in with your students to ask how they are doing.

Working with Students in Distress

You do not need to be a counselor to sense when one of the people around you does not seem quite themselves. When that someone is one of our students, advisees, supervisees, or mentees, we have an obligation to see if they may need assistance. The Graduate School’s resource on Working with Students in Distress can help you support your students and refer them to the resources they may need to be healthy and successful. 

Student Health and Wellness Red Folder

The Red Folder from Student Health and Wellness is a resource to help faculty and staff recognize, respond to, and refer students in distress. It contains important tips and information about campus and community resources to support UConn students. Student Health and Wellness also provides a series of online Brief Trainings to Support Student Well-Being, including how to respond to signs of distress, for faculty and staff. 

Checking in with Graduate Students about Their Well-being

This Timely Topic, “How Are You Doing?...And Other Scary Questions”, provides suggestions on how to check in with graduate students, helps advisor understand their role and when to refer a student for additional support, and discusses concerns that faculty sometimes have specific to graduate student mental health.

Kognito is an interactive online training that lets faculty and staff practice conversations with virtual students that engage the student and connect them to campus resources when needed. Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) provides this program to all members of the UConn community to help create a safer and more supportive campus.

Supporting Diverse Graduate Students

The Graduate School, and the University as a whole, value the diversity of our graduate students and strive to provide environments where students feel included and have a sense of belonging. In order to support graduate students, we know that we also need to understand the needs of diverse graduate students. Below are some resources you can access to learn more about supporting diverse graduate students. 

UConn-specific Resources on Cultural Competency

Social Justice and Anti-Racism Resources for Graduate Education

Created by the Council of Graduate Schools to “help support reflection, dialogue, and action by graduate leaders, faculty, staff, and students interested in social justice in graduate education programs and institutions”, this guide compiles books, articles, podcasts, and other resources that focus on higher education in general, holistic graduate admissions, culturally aware mentoring, and discipline-specific challenges and solutions.

Timely Topics: Advising and Mentoring Historically Excluded or Racially Oppressed Graduate Students

"Advising and Mentoring Historically Excluded or Racially Oppressed Graduate Students", facilitated by Professor David G. Embrick and Professor Stephany Santos, discussed the experiences of graduate students of color, the challenges of mentoring and best practices toward better mentoring, and provided action items and ideas to make change. 

"Racial Microaggressions and the Cumulative and Deleterious Effects on Historically and Racially Oppressed Faculty, Staff, and Students" discussed racial microaggressions and how racial microaggressions harm historically excluded and racially oppressed faculty, staff, and students by looking at both the individual as well as through as structural lens to get a clearer picture of life at historically white colleges and universities.

Timely Topics: Neurodiversity and the Advisor/Advisee Relationship

Two Timely Topics sessions focused on "Neurodiversity and the Advisor/Advisee Relationship" and discussed the experiences of neurodiverse graduate students in STEM programs, the importance of open communication to support their success, the impact their advisors have on their experience, and ways advisors can support and empower neurodiverse graduate students.

UConn's Square Pegs Podcast features honest conversations with current and recent neurodiverse graduate students in STEM.

Supervising Graduate Assistants

Graduate Assistants (GAs) are an integral part of the University and provide critical teaching and research support. They have a dual relationship to the University as both students and employees. This means that GAs have additional obligations beyond their student role, as well as additional resources and benefits. We can help navigate the intricacies of this dual role and support you as you hire and supervise your GAs. 

Information About Graduate Assistantships

The Graduate School’s resource page on assistantships is designed to help faculty and staff navigate the nuances of hiring graduate students and administering assistantships from recruitment and hiring through graduation. 

Timely Topics: GAs

The Graduate School has hosted several Timely Topics sessions that focus on graduate assistantships. The topic areas have included supervising GAs, hiring GAs on special payroll, updates to the Graduate Employee Union (GEU) contract, international TAs, and GA leave and time off, among others. You can find materials and recordings from previous sessions and a schedule of upcoming sessions on our Timely Topics webpage. 

Resolving Employee Performance Issues

The Office of Employee Relations is available to help GA supervisors navigate employee performance issues.