Graduate College Strategic Plan: Graduate Community

2 Graduate students smiling and having a conversation at a networking event.

The Graduate College will enhance graduate experiences by building​ a welcoming, respectful, strong, diverse and resilient graduate community.

Objective 1: The Graduate College will be accessible and attentive to the needs of our graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Objective 2: The Graduate College will foster a student-centered graduate culture that values differences with the following properties:

  • Welcomes and acclimates new students to the University of Delaware.
  • Develops traditions that make the UD graduate experience cohesive and empathetic.
  • Fosters positive interactions and experiences across cultures, races, genders, classes, sexualities, abilities and other areas of uniqueness.
  • Has focused programs that support traditionally marginalized populations.

Objective 3: The Graduate College will provide professional support for graduate operations while welcoming student participation and involvement in graduate life.

Objective 4: The Graduate College will create an environment in which students can grow and succeed along multiple personal and professional dimensions and that: 

  • Articulates clearly how basic needs are met including personal finances, housing, transportation, healthcare, support for families, etc.
  • Creates opportunities for healthy social and recreational activity.

Immediate (AY21-22)

  • Objective 1 - Represent the campuswide interests of graduate students and postdocs to the other colleges and non-academic units on common issues of their welfare, which include housing, transportation and childcare among others, and coordinate action where appropriate.
  • Objective 1 - Represent the campuswide interests of graduate students and postdocs who are on contract to the other colleges and non-academic units on issues related to the conditions and terms of work, which include, among others, the graduate student minimum stipend, vacation policy and additional work.
  • Objectives 1-4 - Continue soliciting feedback in formal and informal ways from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Two primary mechanisms will be used:
    • Regular campus listening sessions with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, allowing them to provide input and shape the mission, function and activities of the Graduate College and other units at UD (e.g., Student Life, Research Office, OIEDI, etc.). These are also opportunities to inform graduate students and postdoctoral researchers of the college and University events and updates. 
    • Regular surveys of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, analyzed in a timely manner to use the learnings to track progress toward goals and identify new opportunities to provide better support.
  • Objectives 1-4 - Investigate barriers for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers around use of campus spaces meant to support them. 
  • Objectives 1 and 4 - Examine current campus resources aimed at graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, such as off-campus housing guides and childcare resources, to determine how well they are meeting the needs of our constituents.
  • Objectives 1-4 - Exhibit a culture within the Graduate College that is focused on anti-racism and diversity competency with greater resources for equity and diversity on campus.  There are internal and external-facing opportunities to implement for this action item:
    • Internal - Launch diversity workshop and discussion series to increase capacity around diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) topics relevant to graduate education, revise performance expectations for all positions to include specific DEI goals and metrics, develop culture in which team members from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds feel their concerns are addressed satisfactorily. 
    • External-facing - Update funding allocated for various funding competitions to prioritize initiatives focusing on underrepresented or marginalized populations, revise application and nomination criteria and processes for graduate students/postdocs and graduate programs to include prompts about DEI contributions and commitment, update graduate application and system to facilitate use of holistic application/admissions practices, host workshops on DEI promising practices in graduate education. 
  • Objectives 2-4 - Develop a strategic communication plan for dissemination of information to current graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, as well as one for incoming students prior to coming to campus and attending student orientation.  This will include communication strategies, website and/or social media outlets that will be used in communicating information, incorporating demographic-specific communications based on the different needs/interests of certain populations. 
  • Objectives 1-4 - Implement initiatives to address needs of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented backgrounds.

Mid-Term (AY21-22 through AY23-24)

  • Objective 1 - Develop and pilot survey to learn more about the experiences of postdoctoral researchers.
  • Objectives 1 and 4 - Advocate for campus-based resources or partnerships with off-campus entities to provide cost-appropriate services.
  • Objectives 1-4 - Engage in campus planning for a multicultural center to advocate for space for graduate student organizations and relevant programming options, as well as common graduate student and postdoctoral fellows-only meeting place. 
  • Objectives 1-4 - Support existing peer mentoring programs (ex. EmPOWER, SIAM) and develop more mentoring offerings based on successful models at UD or elsewhere. 

Long-Term (AY21-22 through AY25-26)

  • Objective 2 - Develop graduate student and/or postdoc-specific traditions, such as holding a candlelighting event for new graduate students as part of the orientation program, having a bell that students ring upon completion of degree, holding a winter hooding ceremony, hosting annual major events (e.g., fun run, field day, volunteer day, etc.), or wearing UD paraphernalia certain days of the week.
  • Overall attendance at each session by demographic group (e.g., grad student, postdoc, race/ethnicity, gender, discipline, etc.) and total unique attendance over the course of the semester/year by demographic group.
  • Number and type of comments made by grad students/postdocs at listening sessions.
  • Number of requests responded to from listening sessions (whether addressed or not) and how quickly/satisfactorily.
  • Feedback provided on surveys regarding satisfaction of grad student/postdoc experiences by demographic group.
  • Positive vs. negative responses to specific questions of interest by demographic group, response rates, response trends over time.
  • Number of nominees and awardees from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds in funding competitions.
  • Application/admission/yield rates by demographic group.
  • Retention and graduation rates by demographic group.
  • Readership of newsletter, social media posts, etc. by demographic group.
  • Attendance at events or usage of resources (i.e., actions based on information learned through communications) by demographic group.
  • Formal and informal feedback from attendees and non-attendees by demographic group.
  • Participation on committee(s) by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
  • Campus responsiveness to graduate student and postdoctoral researcher needs in planning, graduate student and postdoctoral researcher satisfaction with center once opened.