Dear graduate students,
As busy as the start of fall semester always is, I’ve long greeted it with a sense of excitement and optimism about the opportunities and new beginnings that come with the start of a new academic year. I hope you share some of that excitement.
Last September we released the Graduate School Strategic Plan—the blueprint for our goals and priorities for graduate education. The start of the new academic year is an optimal time to update you on a few of the major achievements from last year and some of our ongoing projects that are all based on the strategic plan and designed to improve the Graduate School experience.
To provide leadership in our efforts to recruit and retain a diverse graduate student body, the Graduate School created a new faculty director position for diversity, equity, access and inclusion. Over the summer, we hired Professor Loren Hough into the role. He is already coordinating with college and graduate program diversity efforts. You can look for a profile of Loren and his new role coming soon in the graduate student edition of CU Boulder Today.
The physical and mental well-being of our graduate students has been and continues to be a top priority for the Graduate School. Over the past year, the university has made several changes and improvements in these areas:
- The Anthem Gold Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) now covers 100% of mental health services at CU Boulder and with 300-plus in-network community providers with no copays.
- Students can receive up to 14 individual sessions (therapy and/or psychiatry) through Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), including with a therapist embedded in the Graduate School.
- CU now provides dental insurance to graduate students on qualifying appointments at no cost to them.
The Graduate School is always looking to improve our campus climate and working with partners such as Student Affairs, the deans and individual academic units to cultivate a sense of belonging among graduate students:
- The Graduate School expanded our Grad+ offerings, which give students opportunities to build community, and provides ongoing help with the numerous aspects of obtaining a degree.
- We have continued to expand our peer mentoring program, which provides personal and professional support, encouragement and vital information in areas such as graduate life, living in Boulder, work-life balance and advisor-advisee relationships.
- With support from campus leadership, the president and Board of Regents, instituted remittance of all mandatory student fees for eligible students. This was the No. 1 priority of a 2019 Graduate Task Force on Stipends and Benefits. Additionally, last spring, the campus provided a 3% increase in stipends for eligible graduate students on appointment.
The mentor-mentee relationship between faculty and graduate students is one of the most important predictors of a graduate student’s success and well-being. To help improve these relationships, we:
- Started mentor training for faculty, sending our first cohort of five faculty to receive training from CIMER, a nationally recognized mentor training organization. The central aim of the cohort approach is to build a community of “master mentors” who will not only train other faculty in best mentoring practices but will help advise the Graduate School and other campus leaders on ways to support improved mentoring across all graduate programs.
- Host numerous workshops to provide tools and resources for graduate students to help them navigate advisor-advisee relationships.
We know that not all graduate students are going into academic careers. Our office of Career Services now offers graduate students a four-week industry job search seminar to help those interested in careers outside of academia. The series is offered during both fall 2022 and spring 2023 semester.
Of course, this is not all that we have done or have in the works. We continue to work on the items outlined in the strategic plan as well as new items that affect our graduate students. With this in mind, as we did in 2021, we invite your participation in the gradSERU survey of all graduate students, which will open during the spring 2023 semester. Until then, please feel free to email me and my team with any additional feedback, questions or concerns.
As our academic year begins, I wish you success in all of your endeavors as CU Boulder graduate students!
E. Scott Adler, PhD
Dean of the Graduate School
Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs