As we approach the 9th week of the semester, it is important to remind you of resources dedicated to helping students, both graduate and undergraduate. Many staff and faculty are ready to help you navigate life’s challenges, which may be affecting your individual experience. This message highlights support services and policies to help you make informed decisions about your individual student experience.
The academic calendar highlights the dates and deadlines for the University which you should be aware of as you make decisions about your individual status. Specifically, keep in mind the following dates:
- November 2, 2020 – Last day to withdraw from a course without an exception from the academic dean
- November 20, 2020 – Last day to place courses on or remove courses from Pass/Fail grading (Undergrads only)
- December 7, 2020 – Last day of fall semester classes
Academic or Faculty Advisor: A student’s major advisor is a resource in navigating academic challenges. Some academic departments also have program staff that can help you determine next steps academically and connect you to resources. If you are a graduate student, make sure you discuss all possible options with your advisor. If you aren’t sure who your advisor is, you can find this information in StudentAdmin.
Academic Support Services: Graduate and undergraduate students can seek academic support from the Writing Center and the Academic Achievement Center. The Writing Center provides online writing assistance to both undergraduate and graduate students. An overview of support for graduate students is available at this link; undergraduates can view this link to learn about available services. The Academic Achievement Center (AAC) offers an array of academic support services, including coaching, mentoring, and student success workshops. Although many of the offerings are geared toward undergraduate students, graduate students can contact the AAC directly to discuss specific support needs and will be referred to available resources. Undergraduate students may seek support from the Q-Center for classes that have a quantitative component. Specifically, the Q-Center provides direct assistance to students via peer tutoring, review sessions, and the creation of innovative learning tools.
Course Instructors: Students can speak with their course instructor to discuss options within the course, such as opportunities to make up work or extra time on an assignment, as well as the possibility of an Incomplete grade. The Graduate and Undergraduate Catalogs provide more information on Incomplete grades for students considering this option.
Dean of Students: Staff in the Dean of Students Office are available to support undergraduate students with academic, personal, and other concerns that impact their student experience. Staff in this office provide support without judgement and can help students as they consider completing current courses, rescheduling final exams, or processing a withdrawal or cancellation for those considering taking a break. Questions for the Dean of Students Office staff can be emailed to email@example.com or students can make an appointment with an Assistant Dean by visiting the Dean of Students Office website to access our online scheduler.
Graduate Student Affairs Office of The Graduate School: The Graduate Student Affairs Staff can answer questions about both academic and non-academic resources that are available to graduate students and advisement on strategies for dealing with challenges. If you are struggling to determine what academic resources are available, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and a staff member can help connect you to the most appropriate resources. They also administer requests for late course drops and for leaves of absence. Information about dropping a course after November 2, 2020 can be found on the academic calendar. Graduate students who feel the need to step away from their academic studies temporarily or to withdraw from their program can find more information about taking a leave of absence or voluntary separation at The Graduate School website or by emailing email@example.com.
Regional Student Services Staff: Undergraduates at the regional campuses needing support of an academic or personal nature should connect with the Student Services staff on their home campus. Regional campus Student Services staff can help students as they consider completing current courses, rescheduling final exams, and processing a withdrawal or cancellation if you are considering taking a break. Visit this website to schedule an appointment with a Regional Student Services staff member.
Student Health and Wellness - Mental Health: SHAW provides mental health services to promote the emotional, relational, and academic potential of all undergraduate and graduate students. SHAW-Mental Health offers:
- Rapid access screening appointments
- Emergency/Crisis assessment
- Individual and group therapy
- Medication management
- Mindfulness/Meditation/Yoga workshops
- Referral and off-campus support services
Storrs students (undergrad or graduate) may access SHAW-MH by calling 860-486-4705 or schedule a screening appointment online.
Regional campus students (undergrad or graduate) seeking mental health resources will find campus specific contact information at this link.
Tutoring: Students in need of tutoring may find help within specific academic programs. Below is a list of tutoring resources students may want to access for potential help.
The UConn Library is available to help students with research assistance.
University Advising: Each school or college as well as each regional campus has an office or center with oversight over advising. These centers/offices serve as a resource to undergraduate students, faculty and staff on a wide range of advising matters, including:
- Permission to register for excess credit or add or drop a course
- Requesting a late withdrawal from a course
- Academic probation, dismissal, and appeals of academic dismissal
- Requesting a general education substitution
To learn more about Advising resources, visit the University Advising website.
We are here to help. Please reach out to one of the many offices listed and the staff and faculty will try their best to provide support and identify solutions. Questions about this information should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will respond as quickly as possible.
Monday, September 21st to Friday, September 25th marked the Postdoc Appreciation Week at UConn in partnership with The Graduate School, UConn Health, and The Center for Career Development. Even though all events happened virtually, we hope our Postdocs know that you aren’t only important to us this week, but year-round. To recapitulate, here are some highlights from this past Postdoc Appreciation Week:
On Tuesday, September 22nd, The Graduate School hosted a panel discussion, Next Steps on the Academic Ladder: Reflections from Former Postdocs, regarding the challenges and opportunities of Postdocs moving forward. We had a diverse panel that included former UConn Postdocs who are now at new faculty positions across the US or who stayed at UConn, and Postdocs who competed their Postdoc at other universities who are now faculty at UConn as we were also excited to see some familiar faces at the event. The panelists shared tips and tricks for navigating the job market, what challenges they had encountered, and how their takes on balancing work with job search looked like. The panelists also shared their advices for current Postdocs looking to secure a faculty position: it is important to be intentional about institution and position while navigating the job search, as process and opportunities would look different and depend on the field. Panelists had different opinions regarding when to apply to jobs, some agreed to apply as fast as possible while others suggesting being more intentional of what’s the right fit. It is important to check in with your advisor or mentor to get their opinions and support as the job search process can vary within the field and institution.
On Wednesday, September 23rd, Dean Holsinger from The Graduate School hosted AMA (Ask Me Anything) session where Postdocs had the chance to ask Dean Holsinger about anything they wanted, whether it’s about postdoc life at UConn, life after a postdoc, or fountain pens. During the event, Dean Holsinger answered questions on being a Postdoc at UConn and looked for ways The Graduate School can better serve the Postdoc community. Many Postdocs asked questions focused on work-life balance, while Dean Holsinger shared that when it comes to career and finding a position, Postdocs should keep their eyes open on a broad range of careers. Their PhD work can be applied to many different areas and a faculty position doesn’t have to be the fallback. When asked about working on research versus finding funding for research projects, Dean Holsinger shared that it is difficult to answer as this might vary by individual cases. It is tough to find a balance between the two, yet prioritization is always an important skill that has to be developed over time.
A final thank you to all the postdocs for everything you do! We will continue to support you during your journey here at UConn!
Dear UConn Graduate Students,
I am reaching out to provide information on a question regarding fee reductions for graduate students. Specifically, we have been asked to allow the fee reduction for online only students to apply to graduate students whose only in-person course is a graduate research course. In most cases, this situation occurs when a student has finished formal coursework and is completing research for a thesis or dissertation.
After considerable deliberations, we have shared with Graduate Student Senate (GSS) and Graduate Student Union leadership that we cannot extend this waiver for graduate students with research as their only in-person course.
We considered multiple factors in weighing this request. First, we started with the original motivation behind the fee reduction for entirely online courses. In large part, that was designed as a measure to promote safety and de-densify campus by providing a financial motivation for students to take online courses. Doing so also allowed us to open more in-person seats for students who preferred that option.
Second, we recognize that thesis and dissertation research for many of you will not occur on campus, but this has also been the case before COVID-19. Thus, a fee reduction for graduate students enrolled only in graduate research courses would not lead to any further de-densifying of campus. We also have to be mindful that honoring this waiver request would cost around $500,000. At a time when we are already experiencing cuts across the University from the impact of COVID-19, additional costs such as these would have further damaging consequences.
We understand the request that has been made to provide a fee reduction for graduate students whose only in-person course is a graduate research course, but making a change to graduate student fee structures associated with graduate research was not the intention of this waiver and we need to stand by the original intent. As a result of our multiple conversations about these issues I am going to work with Dean Holsinger and graduate student leaders over this next semester to evaluate graduate student fees and we will be in touch over this period with any changes we can consider making for the future.
Relatedly and as part of our conversations with GSS, we did develop the Graduate Students Emergency Fund that was announced last Thursday. It is an effort to help those of you whose plans to complete your degrees were delayed by COVID-19. Detailed information about the program and requirements are available here: https://grad.uconn.edu/graduate-students/emergency-fund/.
I recognize that addresses only part of the issue here, and want you to know that I welcome continued conversation on graduate student fees more broadly. I appreciate the advocacy of your graduate student leaders and look forward to working with them, as well as hearing from you on your concerns.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
To the Graduate Student Community at Storrs and the Regional Campuses:
The Graduate School has been working closely with Student Health and Wellness (SHaW), Human Resources, the Office of the Provost, the Graduate Student Senate, and the Graduate Student Representative to the Board of Trustees to develop the following plan for testing members of the graduate school whose work will require them to be on campus. What follows is a summary of those procedures. Please note: Graduate students at UConn Health should follow the procedures in place at UConn Health.
- All graduate students who are expected to be regularly on campus (Storrs or any regional campus) in order to participate in in-person course work or to fulfill their duties as GAs (including those RAs who have already been working labs as part of the summer research ramp-up) will be provided access to COVID testing without cost.
- Graduate students who have no regular duties or coursework that require them to be on campus will not be tested. They are permitted to come to campus occasionally for very brief periods during the semester. In general, however, they are urged to stay off campus and arrange for virtual meetings with faculty advisors or other colleagues.
- Testing will be done by Vault Health. Eligible graduate students will receive an email link to their UConn email along with detailed instructions for how to order a kit by mail for collecting their own samples, which should then be mailed directly back to Vault labs for testing.
- Students who have already had a test within the 14 days prior to the start of classes (August 31st) may instead submit a test result to SHaW directly here.
- Over the next several days the Graduate School will be working with Human Resources, Departments, and the Registrar in order to identify all graduate students who fall within these categories. Therefore, please note the following:
- Given our need to have accurate information about students being on campus due to enrollment in in-person or hybrid courses, it is very important that all graduate students complete their course registrations for the Fall 2020 semester by August 17th.
- Test results will be sent to the students and will also be shared with Student Health and Wellness (SHaW). No further action is necessary if test results are negative, and students may come to campus. For Storrs students who receive a positive test result, contact SHaW at (860)486-4700 or your primary care provider to obtain medical attention and instructions on how to self-isolate. For regional campus students who test positive, contact your primary care provider to obtain medical attention and instructions.
- Students who are taking in-person courses should contact their professors to make arrangements to continue their studies online.
- GAs who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to initiate a report directly to HR and are also expected to self-quarantine as instructed by HR. (Vault/SHaW will NOT be sending those results to HR due to HIPPA privacy laws. GAs are expected to report their positive tests results to HR by sending a note to email@example.com).
Carl Lejuez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kent Holsinger, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School
Graduate School News from UConn Today
Community, Collaboration, and Preparation
The Graduate School is dedicated to the welfare and progress of its students. We strive to strengthen this through a commitment to the ideas of creating community, promoting collaboration, and addressing your academic, professional, and career preparation. UConn is committed to fostering a diverse and dynamic culture that prepares you to meet the challenges of a changing global society.
The Graduate School leads and coordinates a variety of activities and resources to navigate your pathway through graduate school and to enrich the overall personal and professional experience of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Our vision for training of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars rests on three pillars as outlined in our academic plan.
Community: The Graduate School will enhance the quality of life for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars by nurturing an engaged community of scholars that includes all disciplines and all campuses.
Collaboration: The Graduate School will foster the development of inter-, cross-, multi-, and trans- disciplinary research and teaching programs by removing barriers to cross-departmental, cross-program, and cross-campus graduate and postdoctoral education.
Preparation: The Graduate School will enhance career and professional development of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars through programs designed to enhance discipline-independent, transferable skills. We utilize a framework of three categories to help students and scholars prioritize their activity: Professional Engagement, Career Development, Personal Growth.