PhD Committee

Winter Retreat Progress Report Out 2021

January 29, 2021

PHD Committee

Committee Members: Kristi Slack, Pajarita Charles, Tova Walsh, Emmy Roper, Seungmi Cho, Luke Muenter

Strategic Plan Goal: Improve a sense of inclusion for our students, faculty and staff.

Objective 1: Review/begin to address equity in opportunities for training / research experiences.

Objective 2: Connect students with more faculty around their skill-building, mentoring, and networking needs.


  • Objective 1:
    • Have been able to place 3 students in hourly research positions to create more equity in research opportunities and compensation, but have had to create work arounds related to how to pay students (given L&S forces a student hourly cap of $15).
    • Were able to facilitate students who hit their financial aid caps getting to keep their merit award money, but it was on a case-by-case basis; we need to follow up this year and see if a more permanent, supportive process has been put in place at the FA office.
    • We are holding two discussion sessions with students on creating an anti-racist and anti-oppressive PhD program and curriculum
  • Objective 2:
    • Our peer-mentoring initiative continued this year but we initiated the peer mentoring over the summer prior to the arrival of the incoming cohort, and this helped to build community between the new and current students before the semester began.
    • Collective mentoring initiative (to connect more of our faculty with more of our PhD students) is being further implemented this year, and we are in the process of collecting information to complete a collective mentoring booklet for faculty (about students and their mentoring, skill-building, and networking needs) and one for the students (about the faculty and their mentoring, skill-building, and networking resources).
    • We have invited two national speakers to talk about leadership development from a DE&I lens.
  • Objective 1 & 2:
    • We have created a more efficient system for circulating information on events, trainings, and other resources and opportunities to students in the PhD program using Teams channels to centralize such information. We have ramped up including items related to DE&I and leadership skills.
    • When students in our program have expertise to share through workshops or lunch and learns, we are able to compensate them with up to $150 in academic books.
  • Action Steps Moving Forward:
    • Circulating the collective mentoring surveys to PhD students and faculty in February 2021
    • Following up with the Financial Aid Office about their process for raising the financial need cap for students who are at that cap
    • Inviting 2nd speaker to discuss leadership development from a DE&I lens
    • Circulate notes from 2 meetings with students related to creating an anti-racist program, and schedule 3rd meeting for Spring semester-try to move toward a more concrete roadmap for achieving this outcome.
    • Keep exploring with L&S how to compensate our PhD students equitably when they are hired for hourly positions to supplement their TA or PA appointments, and how to compensate them for their DE&I labor w/o losing that income to the Financial Aid or Registrar’s offices
    • Check in with peer mentors from this year and learn what students have had questions about so that we can ensure that answers to their questions are made more transparent in our program policies and overview.
  • Summary: We are making steady progress on our goals, but have hit some roadblocks that are situated in other campus units (HR, Financial Aid, Business Services). Students are highly engaged in efforts to improve the program, and a core group of faculty. Challenge in Spring semester is to keep advocating for campus changes that allow us to fully implement our goals, and to achieve meaningful buy-in from all of our PhD faculty on the collective mentoring model.