Published: Dec. 18, 2018

Photo of CU Boulder Graduate School Dean Ann Schmiesing

Ann Schmiesing
Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs

As part of our ongoing efforts to assess and improve your graduate student experience at CU Boulder, the Graduate School partnered with Institutional Research within the Office of Data Analytics in October 2018 to survey graduate students about mentors and funding. At the close of the survey, 2877 graduate students had responded, yielding a response rate of almost 60%. An overview of the initial results are provided below. Additional survey results will be provided during the 2019 spring semester.

Response Rates

  • Response rates were excellent:
    • The response rate for first-year graduate students was 63% (988/1569).
    • The response rate for continuing graduate students was 58% (1889/3255).
  • This represents a marked increase in response rates from previous surveys:
    • The 2018 spring housing survey response rate was 34% (1676/4874).
    • The 2014 fall graduate student climate survey response rate was 37% (1,603/4,328).

Mentors
Because graduate students’ success is enhanced by their positive relationship with faculty and staff, the survey included questions regarding mentoring and advising. The initial results indicate that most respondents have both an official academic supervisor and another faculty or staff mentor who supports them in their studies.

  • 70% of respondents reported that other than their advisor, there is a faculty member who encourages their academic/professional development. Of these, 92% reported this mentor was within their program.
  • 66% reported that there is a staff member who encourages their academic/professional development. Of these, 91% reported that this mentor was within their program.
    • Master’s students were more likely than PhD students to have a staff mentor
      (72% versus 63%).
    • First-year students were more likely than continuing students to have a staff mentor (74% versus 62%).

Funding and Finances
To gain a better understanding of graduate students’ knowledge of funding, we asked questions about the clarity of funding availability and funding processes. In response to the 2014 graduate student climate survey, the Graduate School established new guidelines in 2016 to increase the accuracy of information conveyed to graduate students. These guidelines specify what funding and fee information must be included in offer letters. The initial results suggest that the new guidelines have increased graduate students’ knowledge of funding.

  • 87% of doctoral students entering after the new guidelines were in place reported receiving accurate information, before starting their graduate studies at CU Boulder, about the availability of funding, compared with 76% of doctoral students who entered before the new guidelines.
  • 89% of master’s students entering after the new guidelines were in place reported receiving accurate information, before starting their graduate studies at CU Boulder, about the length of time to complete their program, compared with 67% of master’s students who entered before the new guidelines.

Children
To better understand graduate students’ priorities and needs, we asked about household demographics and childcare needs.

  • Almost 9% of respondents reported having children (n=250)
  • When asked about the usefulness of childcare resources provided by CU Boulder, 66% of respondents reported being unaware of resources, and 27% reported that the resources were not at all useful.

Thank you to the many graduate students who participated in this fall survey. Your input and feedback are invaluable as we continue to look for ways to improve your experience at CU Boulder. Watch for a more detailed analysis of this survey during the 2019 spring semester.

Effective January 1, I will be stepping down from my appointment as dean of the Graduate School to serve as senior vice provost for academic resource management—a position I’ve held since last summer on an interim basis. Taking my place is Leslie Reynolds, senior associate dean of University Libraries, who has been appointed to serve as the interim dean from Jan. 1 through June 30. Leslie’s service as former interim dean of University Libraries, her membership on the Graduate School’s Executive Advisory Council and her record of facilitating the scholarly efforts of graduate students make her a natural fit for this key interim role. You can be assured that Leslie will be an effective advocate for graduate students and graduate education at CU Boulder.

It’s been a true honor and a pleasure to serve as your dean of the Graduate School. Thank you for your many contributions to our campus and community as students, researchers, teachers, artists and so much more. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a restful semester break.

Sincerely,

Ann

Ann Schmiesing
Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs