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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
Carl Lejuez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kent Holsinger, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School
Two weeks ago George Floyd, a 46-year-old man, suffocated when an officer of the Minneapolis Police department pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Following soon after the shooting deaths of Ahmaud Arbery who was jogging and of Breonna Taylor in her own home, I can barely imagine the grief, anger, and frustration that Black people feel because of the brutal treatment they too often receive at the hands of those sworn to protect them.
The anger and frustration Black people and people of color feel must surely be compounded by the anguish of knowing that the damage COVID-19 causes has disproportionately visited them, their families, and their communities. Nothing I can say will assuage that anger. Nothing I can do will correct those wrongs. But rest assured, I will do everything I can to ensure that UConn welcomes and supports every student regardless of race, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender, cultural background or religion.
Martin Luther King wrote this from his cell in a Birmingham jail:
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Echoing the statement of President Tom Katsouleas and Provost Carl Lejuez and the words of new Vice-President and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Frank Tuitt, institutions like UConn should be involved in the work of imagining policies, conversations, and spaces that promote equity. This work does not only fall to marginalized people and communities; it is hard work we must all undertake.
The Graduate School has compiled a list of resources that we hope you will find useful. In addition to these resources, the staff of The Graduate School is here to listen to you and to support you. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Finally, please take care of yourself and those around you during these extraordinarily difficult times. Your strength and your compassion will in some not too distant tomorrow make the stars of love and brotherhood shine over our university.
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Biology
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of The Graduate School
Resources for everyone
- Office of Diversity and Inclusion
- Office of Institutional Equity
- The African American Cultural Center
- The Asian American Cultural Center
- The Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center
- Bias Reporting
- The Graduate School
- Student Health and Wellness-Mental Health
- Black Mental Health Resources List
- Inclusive Therapists Directory
- Anti-Racism Resources for Students, Educators and Citizens
Resources for those who want to be allies
Name: Gabriel Camacho
Undergraduate education: University of Virginia
Graduate education: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut.
This fall, the Department of Student Activities will run a special election for the position of Graduate Student Trustee.
The current Graduate Student Trustee is unable to fulfill the Fall 2019 or Spring 2020 semesters of their term. This special election will elect a new Graduate Student Trustee to fulfill these remaining two semesters. A new election will take place in Spring 2020 for a new Graduate Student Trustee to serve in the position for the next two-year term.
All graduate students (including all regional and professional schools) are eligible to run for this position. Graduate students who are interested in campaigning for this special election need to submit an Intent to Run application due September 13th, 2019 at noon.
To find out more about the Graduate Student Trustee role and election, including position requirements, qualifications for candidacy, election timeline, and to complete an Intent to Run Application: please visit https://vote.uconn.edu/gradtrustee/.
Voting for this special election will take place October 1st, 2019 – October 3rd, 2019.
If you have any questions, please contact Student Trustee Election Committee Chair, Krista O’Brien at email@example.com.
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.