Written on April 9, 2018

Graduate Student Town Hall 2017 Summary And Outcomes

By Rajshree Shrestha

Outcomes of  last Town Hall meeting:

  • Change in PhD Offer Letter to better reflect the fees and costs.
  • Increase in Graduate Student Social interactions – Graduate student forum and tea time
  • Graduate Courses – With the increase in enrollment in our graduate courses we have established a graduate curriculum committee. The committee works to make sure on the quantity and quality of graduate courses offered. We restricted our courses to CS majors to give priority to our students.

Summary of 2017 survey

  • Most students responded as being happy with the way the program is run - Few students, especially in their first year ranked their Faculty advisor as poor and not available to meet – this is concerning.  - We informed the students that they can feel free to come and talk with the Grad Director or the Chair about their issues.  - Students expressed concerns on lack of student community – we informed them about the Tea Time, Forum plus the Slack channel and informed them of the social activities like Friendsgiving and Winter Celebrations. GSA has been established as of 2018 Spring.  - Academic interaction – generally happy.

Suggestions that students expressed:

  • Can their pay be on a biweekly basis and not a monthly basis for TAs/RAs. 
  • Concerns on the proposed Tax Bill and how they might be taxed for the tuition waiver benefit.
  • Requested help to estimate their taxes if the bill passed.
  • Students asked if there was a possibility of recording Colloquium.
  • Suggestion to include Accessibility guidelines during TA Orientation and Training as people are unaware of what to do under that scenario.
  • TAs wanted to know how well they were doing with their TA job – mid-term itself. Can the department put something in place to hold such evaluations from their students? FCQ comes at the end and after their TA job is done – they want mid –term.
  • Can CSCI 6000 be waived for transfer or senior PhD students who join the program from interdisciplinary programs OR revisit the curriculum of CSCI 6000 to decrease the frequency or change the it. Suggestion was to look at INFO Intro Class but that is heavy in writing and they weren’t sure they wanted that either.
  •  MS students wondered if they could have a research practicum class which would focus on intro to research especially for research based MS students. There is no such guidance at the moment.
  • No information on course load of any of our courses anywhere – this would help the incoming students plus prospective students 
  • Course load of THREE credit classes are different based on who is teaching the class – shouldn’t that be standard – while few courses are really heavy few are light – how do we make it consistent – maybe, the curriculum committee needs to review this and work on this.
  • Can department host or be part of national conference locally.
  • One base to store information on local scholarships for graduate students with deadline information.

Appreciation

  • Colloquium was highly appreciated.

Grad Comm Discussions as a follow up of the Town Hall Meeting:

  1. Graduate Committee is aware of the Tax Reform Act that is under discussion and the impact it will have on our graduate students. We are monitoring the situation and also looking into what Graduate School and the College plans for this. We will definitely support our students in the best possible ways to mitigate any impacts this change might bring.
  2. Discussed about videotaping graduate student forum. Prashanth has figured out that it is $1 per minute for captioning the videos and the department has approved this expense for Graduate Student Forum videotaping. 
  3. Grad Comm discussed CSCI 6000 curriculum and the sub committee will be discussing this further and come up with better solutions. We are not waiving this for any incoming PhDs. 
  4. We are collecting Graduate Course syllabi and will soon start posting on our website for reference. 
  5. PhD breadth was discussed and the sub committee will be looking further into this issue and we will be sending updates soon.