(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
5/22/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Dear Grad Students and Post-Docs:
We are rolling into a three day weekend, which I must admit feels a bit surreal to me. Does time actually have any meaning anymore? So… for those of you who are from other countries (nearly half our grad students and post-docs), you might be wondering what this three day weekend is all about. Officially, Memorial Day in the United States honors people who have died in the armed forces. This year, flags are flying at half-staff to also honor those who have died in this pandemic. The numbers are truly staggering, as high as many wars. The mourning so many are feeling will be with us for years if not longer. There are glimmers of joy there too, though. Memorial Day for many Americans symbolizes mourning but also barbecues and bonfires and (in California anyway) beach time. For all of you, I only wish for you that you take some time this weekend to pause, take a look at the moment--the good and the bad--and recharge. The work will still be there when you reopen that computer. The kids will still be screaming or snuggling or snubbing you. Your parents will still need you, love you, and nag you. The world will keep turning. Take a moment just for you.
A little news (and some reminders) before the weekend officially begins:
Funding for Summer and Beyond
Selections are completed for PDY, FMP, GDDF, and Inclusive Excellence Ambassadors and have been sent to your Associate Deans for final approval. A campus-wide announcement will go out on Tuesday regarding these awards.
If you still need (or THINK you might need) summer funding and want to act as a DTEI fellow (remote fine! No specific experience required!), please fill out this SHORT form:
It should really take less than five minutes and is really important. Whether or not you have already talked to specific faculty, your department chair, or someone else about doing this, if you do not have summer funding confirmed right now, PLEASE FILL OUT THIS FORM! (Yes, that was my mom voice). Also, please don’t spend a lot of time on this form. It was built simply on purpose. We don’t need or even particularly want an essay. Bullet points are all you need.
I have also gotten a lot of questions from both students and faculty about future funding in light of the giant hole in the California budget that was announced recently: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article242726681.html
There is little that is static in this environment, so I will tell you only what I do know. Funding commitments to graduate students and post-docs, including fellowships that have already been awarded but not spent (e.g., for future years) will be honored. UCI has been run in a very solid way in the past several years, and we are well positioned to weather this storm. Today, as always, our people are the highest priority.
Last thing, regarding the CARES funding that went into ZotAccounts for Title IV eligible folks. You received a standard email from Financial Aid talking about loans. This is boilerplate text from them. The CARES one time grant is not a loan. They should be sending more information soon if they haven’t already.
Upcoming Career Fairs
The UC's are coming together to host a Virtual Career Fair on May 26 (STEM) & May 27 (ALL) from 9AM-6PM! Registration is limited - so make sure to sign up ASAP!
Learn more & to register https://career.uci.edu/about/events/career-fairs/
GPS-STEM Health and Wellness Podcast
For those who haven’t listened yet, UCI GPS-STEM has launched a new Health and Wellness Podcast series, actually featuring Graduate Division’s very own Phong Luong in the first episode. Recently released episodes two and three, feature Susanna Harris, PhD. She’s the founder of PhD Balance, an online space for academics to learn from shared experiences. In these latest episodes, Dr. Harris gives advice on how to succeed in graduate school during this Covid-19 environment. Click here to give her a listen!
Good news! Housing reports that they have been able to renew EVERY graduate student who requested it, even those past their guarantees. You may not know what a monumental undertaking that was, but it really was. The difficult part of that, of course, is that housing will need to fill empty bedrooms in late summer and fall so that they can meet the guarantees of incoming students while also accomplishing this 100% renewal rate. Housing, Grad Division, and experts from Public Health are working together on appropriate guidance to make these transitions. A BIG thank you to the students and faculty who brought this concern to our attention. More on this soon. In the meantime, if you have specific questions and concerns that GD can help you with, please reach out to Ruth Quinnan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Laptop and Hotspot Loans
Student Success is going to allow continuing students who already have loaned equipment to have a loan extension through the summer.
Continuing students with existing laptop and hotspot loans will be contacted via email with two options:
- Extend equipment loan for Summer Session (summer enrollment will not be required)
- Return equipment
Graduating students will be contacted via email to return their equipment.
If there are glitches in this process, do not be shy about letting us know. Student Success is running this, but we can help if you get into any problems here. Please contact Turner Dahl (email@example.com) with any issues.
Also, a reminder, if you got a router, ethernet cable, adapter, etc. from Grad Division, those are yours to keep. You will not need to return those.
Computing Research Fellows
The Computing Research Association (CRA) and the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) are running a second round of their Computing Innovation Fellows (CIFellows) Program for 2020. This program recognizes the significant disruption to the academic job search caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic uncertainty and aims to provide a career-enhancing bridge experience for recent and soon-to-be PhD graduates in computing. Learn more and find out how to apply here.
I knew multiple CI fellows when they did this the first time in 2009, and it was a really excellent experience for them. They are also NOT all computer scientists. If you are a social scientist, humanist, or artist but you do things related to computation, APPLY. If you are an engineer who delves into software and interaction sometimes, APPLY. It’s a great program for a lot of people.
English Proficiency Exams
This doesn’t really apply to any of you, BUT many of you have asked about it on behalf of incoming students. So, it seems a good time to let you know about the Academic Senate’s recently passed policy on English Proficiency Certification for International Teaching Assistants and Teaching Associates. The general policy: “International graduate students must be certified as having requisite English language skills before they can serve as Teaching Assistants or Teaching Associates. All graduate students who are not U.S. citizens, including U.S. permanent residents, are considered international students. International graduate students may be certified either by passage of a campus-approved test with the minimum scores noted below, or if eligible, by exemption granted by the Program in Academic English.”
There are four tests that are approved by campus, two that would be taken prior to arrival (TOEFL iBT and IELTS) and two that are done at UCI (TOEP and SPEAK). The details of all of this will soon be posted online, but you are getting a sneak peek. From the policy: “For international graduate students who were waived from the English language proficiency requirement for admissions purposes, assessed to determine whether English proficiency testing is required for appointment as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate. The assessment must take place prior to the student’s appointment, and consists of an oral screening conducted by instructors or academic coordinators from the Program in Academic English. Based on the outcome of the assessment, international graduate students will either be required to pass one of the tests noted above prior to appointment as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate or will be exempted from further testing.” Should students need to take one of these tests upon arrival at UCI, campus will pay for the first attempt.
Why am I telling you about English testing in a COVID email? Good question. Mostly this is an issue because with testing sites intermittently closing, we expect more students than usual to arrive on campus without these approvals in place. So, if you are in touch with new students for the Fall20 start, and they ask you, now you know what we are doing.
Dean’s Office Hours
As always, either myself or a senior member of my staff will be available to answer questions each day. Of course, you don’t have to have a question to stop by. This morning a student came by just to say thank you for the help one of the GD staff members had given him. It was great to be able to pass along his praise to her. Our staff LOVE all of our students, and it means so much when we can help you. They also really miss you! I get to see you in office hours, but many of them don’t get to see you at all. So, thank you for reaching out.
Upcoming Dean’s Virtual Office Hours: https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057
- Tuesday, May 26 (career fair day!) 9– 9:30AM
- Wednesday, May 27 (career fair day!) 9– 9:30AM
- Thursday, May 28 9– 9:30AM
- Friday, May 29 10– 10:30AM
- Monday, June 1 8:30-9AM
- Tuesday, June 2 9-9:30AM
- Wednesday, June 3 8:30-9AM
- Thursday, June 4 11:30AM-Noon
- Friday, June 5 11-11:30AM
Barack Obama on one Memorial Day of his presidency noted that “This nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.” Right now, we have nurses, physicians, delivery drivers, cleaning staff, teachers, and so many more who are risking their lives every day for us. We will never fully repay this debt, but we can try a little at a time. Something as kind as a smile or a wave from behind our masks can make all the difference. Something as sweet as waking up early to come to my office hours to compliment one of my staff members means more than you might ever know. Let us all show each other as much kindness as we can, pay some of it forward, and repay our debts a little bit at a time. UCI has made it easy to share gratitude here, and your words might be posted on the UCI social media accounts.
All of us here in Graduate Division “come to work” every day to serve all of you. Thank you for letting us be of service during this time. Thank you for bringing meaning to each of our days.
With all my best wishes for a safe and healthy weekend and on behalf of all of Graduate Division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division