Update to Graduate Students

May 15, 2020
Graduate Division
May 15, 2020

This note is intended to update you on broader campus discussions about where we stand and where we are going.

As we proceed through the second month of this situation the campus, like everyone else in the state, is beginning to discuss whether and how we might open up again.

Campus leadership meet regularly each week to discuss questions relating to the situation and the potential for opening up. The deans, for example, meet three times each week as a group. Alongside that there are regular meetings of Senate faculty as well as workgroups on specific topics such as instructional technology and “lab ramp ups”. 

The situation we find ourselves in is not just unprecedented it is also fluid. Many decisions depend on the decisions of other agencies off campus such as state and county government as well as the UC system as a whole.  As you will appreciate, it is a hard environment in which to make decisions on definite dates and commitments and so the meetings are ones which spend a great deal of time considering different possible scenarios and alternatives. The over-riding concern is to make sure that whenever and however we open we do so in a way that minimizes any risk to students, staff and faculty.

There is then continuing discussion of how an organization of the size and complexity of UCR may safely open up labs and studios so that research and scholarship can continue in those places. The goal is to find the right balance between opening up and allowing research to continue, and doing so in a safe way for all.  

Not surprisingly, final decisions have not yet been reached on when and how the campus will open up. It is not a decision to take quickly, nor one that we take in isolation from the rest of the state. That does mean it is not possible to give you very concrete information at this time except to say that discussions are continuing in a way that will help ensure that when the campus does make a decision on re-opening it will be a sensible one, and one in which the graduate student perspective is taken into account.   Discussions in CNAS, for example, on lab re-opening involved GSA gathering graduate student feedback and concerns and making sure they were part of any conversation.

There is also a set of broader concerns to students – about time to degree, about finances, and other issues. These concerns are also part of discussions about how the campus may begin the move back and so allow studies to continue. It is important to highlight that, in those discussions, the GSA representatives have been thoughtful, constructive, and fierce advocates for graduate students.   But you, too, are able to play a role by making sure your faculty advisors – whether your PI, dissertation chair or Graduate Advisor – know of your concerns and challenges, so do reach out to them.   Also remember you do have access to help provided by the Counseling and Psychological Services https://counseling.ucr.edu. We, in turn, are encouraging programs to reach out to you. Normative time to degree is a program level timetable and so for that reason, for some of you, this may be a time to talk with your advisor about revising or re-orienting the research project. We know that, for some of you, your time to degree will be lengthened and so the earlier those conversations take place the better.  We are also encouraging students and programs to seek out grant and fellowship opportunities that may not have been previously considered.  While we are unlikely to be able to identify all the sources of such funding specific to your discipline Grad Success can help with the writing of the proposal. Your program will be a good resource to help identify funding sources.

As you continue to meet the challenges of this situation, do remember that you are not alone. The resources that were listed in the previous messages and are still available to you and so please do take advantage of them. 

International students and scholars should regularly check the ISS web site https://international.ucr.edu/studentsandscholars  
Information on fees and dates will still be posted on the Registrar’s web site. 

There are also resources on https://keeplearning.ucr.edu/ through the Graduate Student Association (https://gsa.ucr.edu/) 

If you have specific questions that cannot be answered by your department/program/PI or on the FAQ now on GradDiv’s web site please direct them to graddiv@ucr.edu    Do also check in with Grad Success for news and events.  This news is available on Facebook  www.facebook.com/UCRGradSuccess/ , Twitter twitter.com/UCRGradSuccess ,   and also Instagram  www.instagram.com/ucrgradsuccess/    

Last, and by no means least, it is important to note how well you have done to continue to weather these circumstances. This is a very different graduate school experience than the one you signed up for, and yet you have persisted in your studies and in TAing throughout the many challenges you have faced.    Your patience, flexibility, and persistence in these very trying circumstances are admirable.  Thank you.

Graduate Division Deans:

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