Timely Topics Series
Information you need, presented right when you need it.
About 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.
Every session is available to all UConn faculty and staff and provides information and tools that will help you best support your students and program.
Thursday, March 7 at 1pm - Embedding Career Readiness in Your Courses
Thursday, March 28 at 11am - "How Are You Doing?"...and Other Scary Questions
Thursday, April 11 at 11am - Best Practices in Onboarding and Graduating International Students
View the full Spring 2024 schedule and session descriptions
Resources from Previous Sessions
Advising and Mentoring
Advising and Mentoring Historically Excluded or Racially Oppressed Graduate Students
This session, 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.
Career Conversations (four sessions)
What Does Talking About Career in the Classroom Have to do with Equity? (Fall 2022)
Learn about career inequity, the implications for marginalized and first-generation students, and how to help by incorporating career development instruction via assignments and through course conversation.
Career Outcomes for PhDs and Implications for PhD Training (Fall 2021)
Learn more about the career outcomes for PhDs and implications for doctoral students. The slides supplement the recorded presentation and discussion led by Dean Kent Holsinger and Kay Gruder from the Center for Career Development.
When the Plan Isn't Solely to Pursue An Academic Job: Nurturing Career Conversations with Your Advisee (Spring 2021)
These slides provide useful information regarding how advisors can direct positive impactful career conversations with students can be found here. These conversations can be supportive of each students’ pursuits, yet also informational.
Using IDPs (Individual Development Plans) & Career Exploration Tools with Doctoral Students (Fall 2020)
Learn about IDP and Career Exploration Tools of value to doctoral students, including MyIDP, ImaginePhD, and InterSECT Job Simulations, as they explore career diversity and seek faculty guidance and support as they navigate desired educational and professional goals.
Digital Dissertations: How to Embark on Digital Scholarship at the Graduate Level
Learn more about digital dissertation formats and how to start out with born-digital scholarship. While digital dissertations have been around for decades, questions and confusion remain about where to begin, how to approach tech issues, getting your advisory team on board, meeting institutional parameters, and learning how digital scholarship can boost skill sets and career options.
Doctoral Degrees, Master’s Degrees, and Graduate Certificates: A Comprehensive Overview of Degree Audit Processes
The Degree Audit staff from the Office of the Registrars provided an informational session on degree auditing as it pertains to Ph.D., Master’s, Sixth Year, and Graduate Certificate programs. Topics covered included auditing terms and timelines, required paperwork, substitutions, the use of credits taken outside of the UConn graduate career, some tips and tricks on the utilization of the Advisement Report, and the best ways to communicate with our office.
From Expectations to Evaluations: The Importance of Timely Feedback with Provost Lejuez
Graduate Student Trends and Patterns: Insights from the Ombuds Office
The Ombuds Office share insights from their work with graduate students and trends and patterns regarding the graduate student experience as it relates to graduate faculty, discuss different resources for graduate faculty as they navigate their work with graduate students, and facilitate conversation around effective practices currently being implemented around UConn.
“How Are You Doing?”…and Other Scary Questions
These slides will help advisors respond to a student they believe may be struggling and discuss campus services and helpful resources and approaches.
Information for New Graduate Faculty Advisors
This session provided an overview of how graduate student advising works at UConn, including the roles and responsibilities of advisors. It also discussed some basic principles of good advising; what grad advisors need to know to help their students succeed; and ways The Graduate School can support grad advisors.
Neurodiversity and the Advisor/Advisee Relationship (two sessions)
The presentation portion of this discussion-based session talks about the importance of open communication to support the success of neurodiverse graduate students in STEM programs and common scenarios in the neurodiverse graduate student experience.
This session discusses findings from a series of focus groups centered around the experiences of neurodiverse graduate students in STEM programs, the impact their advisors have on their experience, and ways advisors can support and empower neurodiverse graduate students in their programs.
Provost Lejuez on Graduate Student Mental Health and the Role of the Advisor
Racial Microaggressions and the Cumulative and Deleterious Effects on Historically Excluded and Racially Oppressed Faculty, Staff, and Students
This session 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.
Supporting Graduate Students with Disabilities
The Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) is vested by the University with the authority to engage in an interactive process with each student and determine appropriate accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case, class-by-class basis. Information regarding how to support your students with disabilities can be found here.
Understanding Employment Rules and Opportunities for International Students: CPT, OPT and On Campus Employment
Employment for international students during and after graduate school can be complicated. International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) discusses the nuances of CPT and internships, the differences between post-completion, thesis-pending, and STEM extension OPT and how each type may affect both on campus and post-graduation employment, and the regulations around on campus employment.
Using Annual Reviews to Help Graduate Students Succeed
Providing feedback to graduate students is a vital part of ensuring their success. As part of our ongoing effort to foster good graduate student mentoring and facilitate communication between graduate advisors and advisees, The Graduate School has developed resources to help departments and advisors use annual reviews for doctoral and MFA students. The resources include a template that programs can use as a guide and modify to meet their specific needs. This Timely Topics session discusses why annual reviews are important to graduate student success, reviews The Graduate School Annual Review template, and provides guidance on conducting annual reviews.
Writing Effective Reference Letters for NSF GRFP Applicants
Reference letters are a key component of a strong application package. The most effective letters provide detailed and specific information about how an applicant meets the NSF merit Review Criteria of Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts. This session with the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships targeted key strategies on what faculty can do to help prospective applicants by way of reference letters.
Graduate Assistants (GAs, TAs, RAs)
Effective Teachers and Productive Professionals: Giving TAs and Future Faculty What They Need to Succeed
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CETL) discusses how CETL can help Teaching Assistants (TAs) and postdocs enhance their effectiveness in the classroom here at UConn and in future academic positions and areas where departments and CETL can collaborate to better support TAs’ teaching development. Learn about workshops, courses, and opportunities for training and credentials through the Center for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), a network of 42 top PhD-producing universities committed to improving the preparation of future faculty through evidence-based professional development programming.
GA Leave, Academic Leave, or Time Off?
Learn about the differences between GA leave (including medical), academic leave of absence, and GA time off requests and which is the most appropriate for different circumstances. We will discuss policies and procedures, contractual obligations, and supervisor obligation in determining approvals.
Graduate Students on Special Payroll
Preparing for Fall: Graduate Assistant Payroll Procedures
An overview of how to successfully add your GAs to payroll for the 2023/24 academic year, including SmartHR templates, important dates and deadlines, outline the payroll audit process, and discuss the most common mistakes and ways to prevent them. This session will also share detailed information about the role and importance of the Supplemental Description of Duties Form and will provide an overview of GA health insurance and information departments should be aware of to best help their GAs transition into their employee role.
International Teaching Assistants
This session focused on International Teaching Assistants, including the English proficiency policy and how it intersects with hiring TAs, who needs to provide proof of English proficiency (and when!), ITA orientation, and the microteaching test.
Setting Up for Success: Recruitment, Offer Letters, and Hiring of GAs
Everything you need to know as you recruit incoming GAs and prepare to reappoint continuing GAs, including identifying eligible grads, how to determine stipend level, what information needs to be in the offer letter (and what shouldn’t be in there), and more. We also went over the recent revisions to the offer letter templates, how the English Proficiency Policy for TAs intersects with payroll, and resources TGS provides to help you manage GA-related processes.
Supervising Graduate Assistants
This session featured a facilitated dialogue around Graduate Assistant supervision and discussed the intersection of the employee role and the academic role, approaches to address employee performance and misconduct, and ways to connect a struggling GA with assistance and support.
Updates to the GEU Contract
Workflow and Tools When Recruiting & Hiring GAs for Non-Academic Units
Graduate students have a wealth of knowledge and skills that make them incredible assets as Graduate Assistants (GAs). As more non-academic units offer graduate assistantship positions than ever before, The Graduate School and the Center for Career Development partnered to offer guidance on what non-academic units should take into consideration when recruiting and hiring a GA, including best practices for creating a job description that will attract a strong applicant pool, how to advertise open GA positions, and how to handle the administrative and payroll aspects of appointing a GA in a non-academic unit.
Admissions and Recruitment
Fellowships Processes and Updates
Graduate Admissions: Program Application Processing in Slate
An overview of the process The Graduate School uses before programs see their applications (Initial Grad Audit bin) and what programs should be looking for in their program review process (Program Audit bin). This session also covered the difference in accessing graduate admissions requirements versus program requirements, how to upload recommendations, and checking materials on the checklist.
Graduate Admissions: Reading and Reviewing Applications in the Slate Reader
A guide to review applications in the Slate reader, including best practices for application review, how to fill out reader review forms, queue applications to others, and enter final program admission decisions. This session also covered timelines for application review and official admission decisions.
Graduate Admissions 2022-2023 Cycle Debrief
Holistic Admissions and Diversity Recruitment
Holistic admissions review is a more equitable, inclusive approach to considering applications for admission and evaluates applicants using a variety of metrics. This session will discuss best practices for using information from a variety of sources to get the fullest picture of each applicant's potential and how The Graduate School can support your department’s efforts to recruit a diverse applicant pool.
New Diversity Application Fee Waiver Process
An introduction to The Graduate School's fee waiver process to support graduate programs seeking to ensure that their applicant pool includes individuals with a wide range of backgrounds and experience. This session provided an overview of the new program and the application process, explained how these waivers differ from other program-initiated or automatic application fee waivers, and discussed implications of recent court decisions for administration of the program.
SCOTUS Decision on Race in Admissions and Impacts on Graduate Admissions
The Graduate School and the Office of the General Counsel discussed the recent Supreme Court decision on race in admissions, Students For Fair Admissions v. Harvard and University of North Carolina, and how this decision impacts UConn’s processes around admission and recruitment for graduate students.
The Graduate School’s New Student Orientation: An In-Depth Look
Learn more about TGS’s experiences in building and implementing our orientation program, the philosophy that guides our planning and implementation, and our transition to an online orientation format. The information in this session may be helpful to you as you prepare and implement your department orientation.
Managing Your Graduate Program
All About Grad Enrollment
The materials from this session will help you utilize the graduate enrollment tools available to you most effectively and cover resources The Graduate School provides to departments, where to find specific information (or who to ask), and enrollment processes managed by the TGS, such as degree time limits and extensions, voluntary separations, and reinstatement.
Community Engaged Scholarship
This session introduced the concept of Community Engaged Scholarship, delved into how partnering with communities can advance research, and discussed how engaged scholarship is a tool and an opportunity to teach, mentor graduate students, advance science, and have an impact on the community.
Fellowships and Awards with the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships
The Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (ONSF) advises and mentors students at the University of Connecticut who are competing for prestigious, nationally-competitive scholarships and fellowships.
Graduate Student Data Resources
The University has several powerful reporting options for graduate student data. Which option is the right choice depends on what question you’re hoping the data will answer for you. This session will discuss reports and data available from Institutional Research, the Office of the Registrar, and GradSlate, as well as TGS’s WebFOCUS reports. Come learn about the Graduate Dashboard and how it can help you identify trends over time, the Registrar’s Student Data Reporting page and custom reporting options, GradSlate queries that can help you refine your recruiting strategy, and how TGS’s WebFOCUS reports can be a helpful tool to support your grads.