Dear Graduate and Professional Students and Postdoctoral Scholars,
I hope the new academic year is going smoothly so far and that you are feeling fully engaged in your courses, research, and other activities despite the many disruptions to "normal" life.
I want to thank each of you for your contributions to keeping the campus community safe so that we can gradually increase research, in-person courses, and other academic activities. Your actions thus far have helped keep you, your peers and colleagues, and the surrounding community safe and healthy--whether you are living and studying on campus, coming to campus for research, or continuing your studies remotely. So far, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests remains lower on campus than in the surrounding county and the state, and Stanford has not seen the spike in cases many other campuses have experienced (see Stanford COVID Dashboard). Please continue adhering to public health guidelines so that we can continue to protect our community, particularly the most vulnerable among us. Thank you again.
For additional updates about our recovery, President Tessier-Lavigne will host a Campus Conversation: Update on Research about "responses to COVID-19, measures taken to restart research safely, exciting recent discoveries, and plans for the future” tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14, 3-4 PM.
I see how dramatically the day-to-day lives of many of my faculty and VPGE colleagues with young children have changed in this chaotic time for child care and K-12 education, and recognize many of you are facing the same challenges. I hope that you have been able to find the flexibility you need to take care of your loved ones and that public health conditions will allow your lives to return to normal soon. In the meantime, I refer you to several sources of family support:
- Graduate Life Office
- Work-Life Office
- Graduate Family Grant Program
- Bechtel International Center (for families from abroad)
New VPGE Committees
While much of our attention over the past seven months has been consumed by responding to the pandemic, we continue to think about opportunities to improve graduate education and postdoctoral training. I have created a new VPGE Faculty Advisory Committee to provide feedback and guidance on a variety of issues of importance to graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and to help us envision and plan for the future of graduate education and postdoctoral scholar training at Stanford. I’m excited to bring these dedicated faculty leaders together as we plan for the post-pandemic years ahead.
In parallel, I’m also creating a VPGE Strategic Vision Team of graduate student and postdoctoral scholar leaders to provide ideas for the future of the academic experience, research, and training at Stanford. I’ve invited the GSC and SURPAS leadership and faculty and staff to nominate potential members.
Diversity & Racial Justice
In case you missed it, I want to alert you to a comprehensive update about Stanford’s IDEAL Initiative and actions to advance racial justice in a Sept. 23 message from Provost Drell. VPGE and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) are deeply involved in a number of these initiatives, with a particular focus on recruitment strategies to increase diversity in our graduate student and postdoctoral scholar communities, as part of the IDEAL Initiative. Your individual contributions to creating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable campus—participating on committees, leading outreach efforts, mentoring others, and much more—are deeply appreciated.
November 3 is the US National Election Day. Stanford encourages everybody who is eligible to vote and encourages flexibility on Election Day to allow community members to participate in the democratic process, in whatever ways they choose. Last week the Faculty Senate endorsed the proposal put forward by the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU, which includes the Graduate Student Council) encouraging instructors to cancel classes or make attendance optional on Nov. 3 and allow flexibility with assignments during election week. The university has followed state guidelines to allow employees more time off for voting (4 hours instead of 2) and in VPGE, we’ve rescheduled most Nov. 3 meetings to different days.
Here’s more information about this election:
- Election Season at Stanford, message from President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell
- Stanford Votes: nonpartisan voting information
- The 2020 U.S. election, issues and challenges (compilation of news articles)
- Democracy Matters, weekly course organized by Humanities & Sciences open to all, Tuesdays, 12:30-1:50 (also recorded)
Thank you again for your many contributions to Stanford and to the communities that are important to you and your loved ones. I always welcome your suggestions and questions via email or this survey link. If you leave your contact information, we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.
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