The Graduate Division is saying farewell to Eric Falci, our outstanding Associate Dean for Student Support, as he begins a sabbatical in July. Our new associate dean, Brandi Wilkins Catanese, will start on July 1st.
During Falci’s tenure, which began in August 2017, he has contributed his expertise and perspective as a humanities professor, and his knowledge of campus systems and practices to improve funding opportunities and processes for students and the staff who support them. Falci has helped launch grants to support student caregivers, raised stipend rates for all Graduate Division fellowships, spearheaded our summer dissertation-writing grant for students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, and has been instrumental in coordinating COVID-related emergency allocations to departments. His efforts have helped to lay the groundwork for a five-year funding model to ensure that Ph.D. students across all disciplines can expect sufficient and consistent financial support.
His personal philosophies have aligned with the Graduate Division’s mission and vision to be more student-centered, warm, and accessible. “We’ve worked to be a student service unit and not just an opaque bureaucratic office that makes rules,” shared Falci.
In addition to helping increase graduate funding opportunities, he has been instrumental in reforming fellowships policies to provide more flexibility for departments to fund their students.
“Everything I’ve been involved with has been about trying to find ways to better help programs support their students,” said Falci. As part of these efforts, the fellowships team has worked to develop strong partnerships with the Basic Needs Center and other campus units so that there are systems in place to quickly and equitably distribute financial support, particularly in times of greatest need (such as the COVID pandemic.)
Andrea Rex, Assistant Dean for Student Services in the Graduate Division, reflected on his knack for collegial collaboration: “Eric was always willing to take on any task—whether drafting a memo, attending monthly GSAO meetings, or holding a difficult conversation with a campus colleague—and did each with compassion, thoughtful analysis, and concrete solutions to complex problems,” she shared. “Eric’s aim for the Student Funding unit was to partner with the departments to support our students as best we can as a university, and he modeled that by treating every colleague, whether student, faculty, or staff, with respect and a sincere sense of collaboration.”
Vice Provost and Dean Lisa García Bedolla shared: “We will miss Eric’s good humor, collaborative spirit, and deep compassion for our students. He has been a wonderful colleague and an amazing contributor to graduate education on our campus.”
Falci plans to spend his sabbatical working on a book about modern poetry and music, and preparing for his return in the Fall 2022 semester, when he will begin a term as Chair of the English Department.
Thank you, Eric, for your invaluable contributions! We will miss you!