Graduate Division COVID-19 Update
March 27, 2020
Dear Grad Students and Post-Docs,
Each day since we received orders to “stay at home” from the governor have brought us each our own trials. More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, and in a world without universal healthcare, this means many have lost their ability to combat this pandemic at the same time. Although all of you can get health insurance through UCI, you may have partners, friends, and others in need. If so, please remember that they can buy coverage at Covered California if they are in this state. Also, please remember if your friends or family have been laid off as part of this crisis, they can file for state unemployment as well as the additional federal coverage provided by the stimulus package.
A big thanks to David Levinson, owner of Levinson Tax Services and current Merage MPAc student, for writing a summary of the stimulus package that even I could understand.
Answers to Some Questions We Have Been Getting
You may have noticed that the campus has made it possible (via the Registrar) to change between graded and not much later into the quarter than typically allowed.
- For grad classes, P/NP is not a valid option if you want it to “count.” It must be S/U (satisfactory-unsatisfactory). Don’t ask me why. It way predates me, and I honestly don’t know. Please watch for it though if you are in a course in which faculty have turned on these options.
- If you are a TA/Reader, please remember to share grade information regularly with your students so that they can make the best decision for themselves whether they want things graded.
Broad implementation of grading strategies at the graduate level continue to be in the control of the schools and programs. Some have chosen to go with a wide range of S/U courses and some have not. In some cases, these decisions are impacted by accreditation and professional certification requirements. Please check in with your grad program advisor if you have questions about this.
Michael Dennin, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, will be hosting a series of office hours for the next two weeks to help with the ramping up of the quarter.
These will be 4 – 5 pm on:
- Monday March 30
- Tuesday March 31
- Thursday April 2
- Tuesday April 7
- Wednesday April 8
- Thursday April 9
The Zoom link for the office hours is: https://uci.zoom.us/j/254764170
Emergency Financial Support
Some of you have reached out about rent relief and other sources of aid during this crisis. Student Affairs, Housing, and other facilities are currently being assessed for what can be done. What I have seen of their efforts is a group of people working as hard as they can as fast as they can to do the best they can by all of you while also recognizing the impacts of the massive loss of revenue from students moving out, conferences cancelling, and limits on external programs. We must balance what we do to keep both students and staff safe, keep our staff employed even without our usual operating funds, and keep essential services up and running. UCI is working with local, state, and federal authorities to access as much emergency funding as we can as well as tapping donor bases, grants, and other sources of revenue. I hope to be able to share positive results from all of these efforts soon.
We have gotten a lot of concerned messages about attempting to advance to candidacy or meet other deadlines in Spring quarter. Faculty from individual programs and the academic senate (Graduate Council) have control of these rules. However, a few current details may help ease some of your concerns. Summer quarter counts as part of the year you are in now. So, if you are trying to advance by end of “this year,” you are good as long as you do it by the day before fall quarter (end of September). Additionally, we have waived filing fees and many other fees for Spring and Summer quarters. We have also asked faculty to be flexible and allow for major exams of this kind in the summer if at all possible. So, this should give you a decent amount of flexibility. Obviously, we will continue to watch things, and if additional extensions become necessary, Graduate Council (faculty senate) is very much ready to take up this issue. As always, Graduate Division (my team) maintains the ability to grant extensions on an individual basis should you have specific needs.
The Office of Research has provided guidance on research continuity on their website:https://news.research.uci.edu/research-continuity/
Most research falls in one of these categories:
- Critical Research: Essential experiments, COVID related research, and so on. If your work is in these categories, you may continue work. You MUST use good social distancing. If your PI is not following these guidelines, you should talk with your department chair or Associate Dean for Research.
- Research that can be conducted online (or from home): You can continue to analyze data, write articles and books, do close readings, etc if you can do them from home. You can also collect new data if it can be done remotely.
- Research that cannot be conducted from home and is not critical: In most cases, this work has been paused.
Regardless of what category your work falls into, you may be struggling to be “productive.” You may also find respite in the work. Either response (or both!) are completely normal. Please work with your PI, thesis advisor, department chairs, DECADE mentors, and everyone else who can help you work through this time. There are no right or wrong answers unfortunately. We also have no way to predict how any of us will be feeling in another two weeks. Do the best you can and keep communication lines open.
Don’t forget I am holding office hours each weekday. You don’t have to have a question to stop by office hours, you can just come to chat. Talking to students is honestly the highlight of my day!
All you need to do is click this link and you’ll be in: https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057. Below are our office hours for the next two weeks. All times are Pacific Standard Time.
- Monday, March 30: 9:00am – 9:30am
- Tuesday, March 31: 1pm – 1:30pm
- Wednesday, April 1: 10am – 10:30am
- Thursday, April 2: 12:30pm – 1:00pm
- Friday, April 3: 10am – 10:30am
Finally, I just want to close by telling you what has been the hardest part of all of this for me: PATIENCE. Be patient while we wait for a cure. Be patient while we wait for a vaccine. Be patient while you wait to see if your young son’s dry cough is going to progress, to see if you or your husband will get whatever he has. Be patient while they restock the shelves. Be patient while you wait for your sister-in-law to file for unemployment. Be patient while you wait on hold trying to get her healthcare coverage. Be patient while your students await job interviews that have to be rescheduled. Be patient with all those projects that are now delayed because the resources have had to be diverted elsewhere. Patience. Patience. Patience. The last two weeks have felt like a year. I don’t know about you, but I am running a bit low on it. And so each morning, I try to remind myself to have patience, with myself, with everyone else, with the universe. Some of the greatest minds for millennia have reminded us of the virtue of patience. Their words, repeated throughout each day, have helped me, and I hope they help you:
“Endurance is nobler than strength, and patience than beauty.” John Ruskin
“Patience is the key to contentment.” The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)
“Patience attracts happiness; it brings near that which is far.” Swahili Proverb
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:25
As always, hoping to see you in person soon.
On behalf of all of Graduate Divsion,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division