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Dear Graduate Students,

We know that many of you are deeply affected by the persistent and senseless racial violence inflicted on the Black community by police and others. We share your outrage and frustration. We also appreciate the immediate concern many of you feel for your safety and for your loved ones, and the toll these event may be taking on your mental health and ability to focus. The challenge each of you faces to carry on with your courses, research, and teaching responsibilities during this emotional and frightening time, in the midst of a pandemic, is daunting.

We want to share a discussion the Committee on Graduate Studies (C-GS)—the committee of the Faculty Senate that oversees graduate studies—had this afternoon about actions the university can take to support you academically at this time. The committee urged us to write to you to express their concern and support. We want you to know that you can reach out to your course instructors, faculty advisor, and faculty Director of Graduate Studies to ask for accommodations for course requirements or other academic expectations and degree milestones during this extraordinarily challenging time.

The Provost has also written to School Deans asking them to share this guidance with instructors of spring quarter courses:

  • Extend empathy and understanding to those who are finding the current moment difficult. If you are aware of a student in distress, please remember that there is a broad network of support services available in our community, as well as in your local Dean’s office.
  • Be transparent around grading, so that students who simply aren’t in a position to focus on academic work know what they still need to do to pass.
  • Offer other accommodations if your class pedagogy and structure permit. Remember that these accommodations must be available to all students in the class. Not all students will feel comfortable asking for consideration, and there are issues of fairness.
  • For some students, their best option may be to request an Incomplete from you for the course (you should not give an incomplete without a request). Incompletes should not be used when a student has requested to graduate this quarter.

In addition, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faculty Senate already extended the deadline for doctoral students to reach candidacy by the end of their 2nd year and to allow any student to delay their qualifying exam until Autumn quarter.

If you're serving as a TA or mentoring undergraduates in your lab, the community centers, or other ways, you likely are already hearing from and offering support to your students. Thank you for the care you are providing to others.

We realize you’ve heard this advice before: please reach out to the staff in the offices listed below, to the VPGE staff, or to your department staff and faculty for the support you need during this difficult time.

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the School of Medicine Mental Health Team offer crisis counseling for urgent needs.CAPS FAQ - Appointments are available. Clinicians are always on call, even after hours, at (650) 723-3785.
  • The Graduate Life Office (GLO) is available during office hours at (650) 736-7078, or 24/7 at (650) 723-7288, pager ID number 25085.
  • The Bridge Peer Counseling Center offers counseling by trained students 24/7 at (650) 723-3392.
  • The Office for Religious Life offers spiritual guidance for students. Call (650) 723-1762.
  • If you are aware of someone in distress, contact CAPS, GLO, or the Office of the Dean of Students (

Please take good care of yourself and others,
Stacey & Gary

Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering
Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor, by courtesy, of Materials Science & Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Chemistry

Gary M. Shaw
Chair, Committee on Graduate Studies
NICU Nurses Professor (Research) of Pediatrics
Professor, by courtesy, of Health Research and Policy and Obstetrics and Gynecology

Academic Accommodations | Resources for Support

Dear Graduate Students,