Dear Graduate and Professional Students,
It’s hard to believe that we are already in Week 9 of the Fall Term. I hope that your term is going well and that you are finding ways to safely connect with your classmates, friends, instructors and advisors online or in person with social distancing. I’ve been able to meet my graduate advisees for social distancing lunches outside in Schenley Plaza and it’s been great to see each other and reconnect as a group. Whether you are engaging in academics remotely or coming to campus for classes, teaching or research, I want to thank you for all the precautions you are taking to keep the Pitt community safe and healthy during this pandemic.
The goal of the Graduate Studies team is always to support you and your experiences at the University of Pittsburgh. We know that this is a term unlike any other, so we wanted to share a number of resources that are available for you as you navigate the rest of this semester and attend to your academic, research and personal well-being. Last week, in collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, we hosted a Graduate and Professional Student Town Hall to share resources and services specific to the graduate experience. In case you missed it, you can view a recording of the discussion at your leisure.
Additionally, we are happy to share the news that the Pan-African Graduate and Professional Student Association (PANAF) has been reactivated at the University of Pittsburgh. More information about how to get involved is below and I look forward to working with PANAF.
Another resource that is available without cost to all graduate and professional students is The National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development (NCFDD). Directions for joining can be found below. One excellent program offered by NCFDD (and one I have taken part in regularly) is the 14-day writing challenge. The program runs from October 19 - November 1, 2020 and registration ends October 14, 2020.
We want to reiterate that the events of the last few months and the changes that they have required can been stressful. Many kinds of support are available from the University of Pittsburgh, including the Student Emergency Assistance Fund, the new Meal Scholarship Program, and the Counseling Center. Also, if you have concerns that you prefer not to raise with your department or program, please contact one of the Graduate School Ombudspersons or the Graduate Studies Office.
I want to share one more important resource: information on voting in the November 3, 2020 elections. The University of Pittsburgh has a strong history of civic engagement and if you are able to vote, the University encourages you to be engaged in this important process. The deadline to register to vote in the next election is October 19 in Pennsylvania. No matter what state you want to vote in, you can use Turbovote to register to vote. Enter your information on this website, and you'll have the relevant voting day details based on your registered address. For international students who are interested in learning more about elections in the United States, the Office of International Studies is hosting a Lunch and Learn event on Wednesday, October 21 from noon to 1 p.m. EST about the election process ahead of the November elections.
As a reminder, on Monday, October 19 the University will transition from the elevated risk posture to the guarded risk posture. Under the guarded risk posture, more classes may meet in person and more shared spaces will be open. If you hold an appointment as a teaching assistant, teaching fellow, graduate student researcher, or graduate student assistant (TA/TF/GSR/GSA), please talk to your teaching or research advisor about any changes in your in-person duties. Graduate student researchers can refer to the guidelines for research trainees. Safety precautions like wearing face coverings and maintaining a proper physical distance of six feet or more are still in effect.
Looking ahead to the Spring 2021 term, the University will continue to adjust its operational posture depending on local public health conditions and Flex@Pitt will continue to be used to offer flexible and hybrid instruction. Additionally, the academic calendar for Spring 2021 has been updated. Note that some graduate and professional programs will deviate from this calendar; please check with your program to confirm its spring schedule. To stay up to date on other news and resources at Pitt, I recommend that you regularly check Pitt’s Coronavirus website: The Power of Pitt, PittWire, and the “Resources for Graduate and Professional Students and Postdocs during the COVID-19 Pandemic” on the Graduate Studies webpages for information specific to graduate and professional students. We also encourage you follow us on Twitter and share your accomplishments and honors by tagging us at @PittGradStudies.
Finally, I wanted to send out a special thank you to the international graduate and professional students who participated in the International Graduate Student Listening Session on Well-being and Mental Health two weeks ago. Your insights and experiences will help us respond to the stresses you face and to provide resources to address them. We greatly appreciate your participation and value hearing from you. I also want to let all our international students know that you are a valuable part of our community. You may have heard of the proposed changes to student visas that were made by the U.S. Government in September. I want to assure you that the University of Pittsburgh is continuing to strongly advocate on your behalf concerning these proposed changes so that they do not impact your studies. If you have specific questions, please email the Office of International Services (OIS).
As always, I welcome you to my monthly office hours and I am always available at VPGodley@pitt.edu. My next monthly office hour is on Thursday, October 15, 2020, from 10 to 11 a.m. EST. Please complete the registration form to choose your time slot. Zoom details will be emailed to you after completing the form.