Published: Oct. 6, 2021

The Graduate School has posted its strategic plan, providing a dynamic blueprint for the transformation of graduate education at CU Boulder for the next three to five years. 

The Strategic Planning Committee for the Graduate School began its work in October 2019 after receiving its charge from Provost Russell Moore. But by March of 2020, the committee was forced to halt its work when the campus diverted its focus to addressing the rapidly worsening global pandemic. When the committee resumed its work in the spring of 2021, many of the imperatives that it had originally identified and outlined became even more relevant and obvious as the events of the past year and a half came into focus. 

Provost Russ Moore

Provost Russell Moore

Dean Scott Adler

Dean Scott Adler

“The global pandemic caused many unforeseen challenges,” said Scott Adler, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost of graduate affairs. “Students were immediately faced with a slowdown in their research, a disrupted economy and job market, and a variety of challenges that affected their well-being,” he said. “The Graduate School needed to think differently about how we could meet these challenges and help maintain connections within the Graduate School community.”

The three imperatives described in the strategic plan are as follows: 

  • Foster an inclusive and equitable campus climate to ensure a thriving and diverse graduate student community.
  • Provide comprehensive student support to recruit, retain and graduate scholars prepared for a range of career paths and positive societal impact. 
    • Transform the supportive relationships, roles and interactions that shape graduate student success, promoting a more human-centered approach to graduate education.
  • Advance graduate education to anticipate the needs of a rapidly changing world and look to the future with flexibility and nimbleness.

“A long held belief is that universities make changes at a glacial speed,” said Adler. “The pandemic allowed us to see how the university could be more agile than we ever imagined. As well, it accentuated the need for graduate education to be more student focused, humane and compassionate.”

The Graduate School is already making progress in many areas addressed in the strategic plan. Last year, the Graduate School launched a diversity recruitment initiative that provided over $220,000 to 22 departments to fund innovative plans on how to increase their pool of diversity applicants. It also awarded $195,000 in diversity recruitment fellowships to 46 incoming students. This year, it will continue to offer recruitment fellowships to students from communities that are underrepresented in graduate education and work with the graduate recruitment team and departments to bolster their diversity efforts.

Continuing its work to build a stronger community for graduate students, the Graduate School has grown its peer mentoring program to more than 1,300 participants, with multiple social events planned throughout the year. Registration will soon open for the fourth annual Three Minute Thesis competition, which last year had 39 graduate student competitors and drew an audience of 240 people in six countries watching the finale via livestream. The Grad+ seminars, which provide research and writing support to more than 300 graduate students, continue to grow in participation as does all of the professional development programming.

Mental health services for graduate students have expanded this year with the embedded counselor initiative placing Counseling and Psychiatric Services counselors in all of the academic colleges and schools, including one in the Graduate School. 

Adler is excited about the potential for change that’s already taking place at the Graduate School. “We recognize that educational and career needs of graduate students are changing rapidly, and that means our graduate programs and the Graduate School need to change as well,” he said. 

Note: Adler will host a virtual town hall for graduate students with Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs JB Banks, Moore and Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26.