Message to Graduate Students

March 20, 2020
Graduate Division
March 20, 2020


Things have changed a lot over the past week or so.  Thank you all for your patience as the campus worked through uncharted territory.  You have continued your studies despite the serious challenges facing you. More than that, as TAs and readers, you have helped our undergraduates, as GSR’s and post-docs you have continued the research mission in our labs, and as students you have continued to help each other through this time.  Thank you all.  

We are now about to enter a period of a ‘new normal’ that we anticipate may last for a while before we return to the ‘old normal’. The following information is intended to help you navigate this time.

For some of you this time away from campus will present a change in schedule and an increase in unscheduled time. For many this may be a period that allows you time to read, write, and think but others may need to adjust to less structured time. See these sites for advice on working from home:

But you are not alone at this time  –  do remember your advisors. Your PIs, dissertation chairs and graduate advisors are available to you. Do not be shy about reaching out to these faculty if you have questions about your work and be sure to keep in touch with them about your progress. 

There are also campus resources available to you online to help keep you informed. 

Both International Services and the Registrar’s office will continue to update their websites and so you should to check those sites regularly.  See also the campus web site and for library services

For access to help provided by the Counseling and Psychological Services please see 

Do be sure to  follow GradSuccess  on Facebook  , Twitter ,   and Instagram 

For those of you with TA appointments, resources to help you teach online are on the  website. Additional resources are - and  will continue to be placed -  on the TADP website   

As you know, teaching assistants and readers are under contract to work only a set number of hours depending on the percentage of appointment. As we move to distance learning and all acquire new skills, many faculty simply don’t know how much time particular tasks may take or how much undergraduates may be reaching out to you. Please keep your instructor informed of the hours you are spending on tasks so that you can work together to ensure you don’t exceed the limit of your appointment.

Lab and studio access are more complex issues that are being addressed college by college.   Please consult with your PI or departmental/program graduate advisor on those issues.

During this period, and certainly through April 3rd, Graduate Division offices will be closed. Everyone in GradDiv will still be working, but from home.  If you have specific questions that cannot be answered by your department/program/PI please direct them to  We will still be available to work with you and help you during this period. Your questions will still be answered. Although please remember that – like everyone else  – Grad Div staff may not be able to respond as quickly as usual,  since they will have children at home, slower internet and so on.   

You will already have seen that we have made some changes in process that should make it easier for everyone to deal with paperwork issues (e.g. suspension of  ‘in-person’ defences/exams, no need for ‘wet’ signatures). We are trying – at least for the time being – to keep existing deadlines in place. Keeping to deadlines, and keeping in contact with your faculty advisors are ways to help make sure you will continue to make progress and stay on track. 

Remember, too, that you have friends and colleagues on campus and elsewhere. Checking in with each other on a regular basis would be helpful both for them and for you.     
While there are these various supports it is important to remember that self-care is important too and so:
•    Have zoom dates with friends. This can be a good time to totally decompress or to chat with people about your research. You can even have remote writing hangouts.
•    Get outside! Although we do not recommend touching playgrounds, park benches, and so on without a good scrub, going outside for a walk, run, or just to sit in the open air for a few minutes can make a big difference. Please look out for and help your friends with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities. Just getting out might not be as simple for everyone. 
•    Create structure for yourself so you can feel productive and engaged in your work while at home. Divide your work into tasks that take at most 90 minutes, rather than a full day labeled “write dissertation.”  No matter how much we may love our chosen subject of study, it is good to take a break. 
•    Brainstorm best practices with your friends and share them online through Google docs, Slack, Zoom  
•    For those of you caring for children, parents, or partners during this time, don’t be alone, even if you are isolated. (Have a virtual ‘date’ via video call. Check in with an online support group).

This has been a long email. Perhaps, too long for these days when our in-boxes are so full. But as you see, there are many resources to hand as we work together through this time. 

Graduate Division Deans:

Cheryl Gerry, Assistant Dean and CFAO
Emma Wilson, Associate Dean
Ertem Tuncel, Associate Dean
Shaun Bowler, Dean