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Supporting the U’s graduate students

Recruiting and retaining talented and diverse graduate students is integral to the University of Utah’s research and teaching mission and to the advancement of the president’s goal of becoming a top 10 public university. A final advisory report submitted this month by the Presidential Task Force on Graduate Student Support notes the university’s progress toward that goal as well as the next steps.

The task force was formed in response to graduate students facing financial challenges due to inflation and rising housing costs. Its charge was to assess and make recommendations that can lead to improved graduate student recruitment, research productivity, retention, completion rates and student outcomes. Representing all facets of the institution, the task force included four subcommittees with the following focuses:

  1. National trends
  2. Issues facing grad students
  3. Issues facing international grad students
  4. The graduate student voice

“As the newly appointed dean of the Graduate School, I’m committed to supporting ongoing dialogue and to finding solutions to support the values and recommendations highlighted in this report,” said Darryl Butt. “We want our graduate students to have an unparalleled student experience at the University of Utah.”

A preliminary progress report was released in the spring (recap here). The following recommendations from the report have already been implemented to begin during the Fall 2023 Semester:

  • Eliminated the 20% graduate student health insurance fee for all eligible graduate students.
  • Created a temporary reduction in rent for current housing residents moving to new graduate housing.
  • Increased all Graduate School-administered scholarship stipends to a minimum of $24,000/9-month basis, pledging a minimum 15% increase.
  • Launched a campus “climate” survey of graduate students.
  • Conducted two town halls of diverse student groups, focused on the task force directives.
  • Formed a graduate and professional student council.
  • Adopted a values statement and framework for strategic priorities advocating for graduate student wellness and financial well-being.

The full report is intended to be an advisory report that captures diverse perspectives. The executive committee plans to reconvene next spring to review progress and update goals.