The monthly Graduate Student Council meeting began with a presentation by guest speaker Thomas A. Lewis ’90, interim dean of the Graduate School and professor of religious studies, on the September report issued by the Task Force on Doctoral Education. Lewis was the chair of the task force, which was formed last fall by Provost Richard Locke P’18 and comprised 18 faculty, staff and doctoral students from across the University.
According to the Office of the Provost website, the task force was created to develop “recommendations for promoting outstanding, innovative graduate education that supports the University’s excellence in research and teaching while also preparing graduates for desired career outcomes.”
The task force’s recommendations are in three overarching areas: elements of excellence, institutional structures and accountability, Lewis said.
After providing an overview of the task force report, Lewis gave a brief breakdown of the current state of University doctoral programs. He presented demographic data and breakdowns of program admissions and placement trends.
According to the report, the University has seen an increase in the number of students from historically underrepresented groups in recent years and is performing well on the average time it takes for graduate students to complete their degree.
Lewis also identified a few areas for improvement, noting that the University is turning out fewer field-leading researchers than peer institutions. He mentioned concerns included in the report about the quality of advising and the climate of graduate programs, especially for women and individuals from HUGS. Lewis also said that there are weak spots in the curriculum and training of certain programs.
Throughout the presentation, Lewis emphasized the importance of providing career support and opportunities for graduate students considering career pathways outside of academia.
After Lewis’s presentation, GSC President Joe Colleyshaw GS announced that all GSC executive board positions will be up for election, since executive board members serve one year terms that end in December.
Chair of Nominations Teresa Chambers GS also announced two newly recognized GSC student organizations: French Theory Reading Group and South Asian Students in STEM.
Sayan Chakraborty GS, chair of international advocacy, said that more than 100 people showed up to the last international student mixer and that GSC will hold an international student Friendsgiving, tentatively set for Nov. 18. Ramy Meir GS and Olivia McKissick GS, the chairs of social events, announced that the graduate student winter formal will be held on Dec. 2 at WaterFire Arts Center.
After providing updates on upcoming social activities, Farha Mithila GS, chair of communications, advocated for ensuring menstrual products are in all University bathrooms. Mithila said graduate students should contact her if they notice bathrooms without menstrual products.
GSC merchandise items, including stickers, bottle opener keychains and notebooks with GSC logos on them, will be distributed soon, Ray Che GS, chair of masters’ advocacy, said.
Grace Holleb is a University News section editor covering academics and advising. She previously covered the graduate student council beat as a senior staff writer. In her free time, Grace enjoys spending time with friends, traveling and running.