Headshot of Lisa Garcia BedollaAs the fall semester winds down, I want to thank the Berkeley graduate community for being so welcoming to me as I stepped into this new role and for working with and alongside me to amplify support and communication around graduate student basic needs, funding and financial aid, and diversity recruitment and retention initiatives.

As we close out the year, I’m pleased to share a brief snapshot of what the Graduate Division has been up to.

Diversifying our Graduate Student Population

The Graduate Student Diversity Task Force has been meeting this fall to identify improvements to our outreach and recruitment efforts, admissions process and practices, and the campus experience for all our graduate students in order to ensure a more diverse graduate student population at Berkeley and that all our students thrive. We expect preliminary recommendations by the end of the Spring term.

In the meantime, if you have suggestions, models or best practices you would like to share with our committee, please email committee staff liaison Larissa Charnsangavej.

Encouraging comprehensive review of applicants

We have been actively encouraging departments to use a comprehensive review of applicants in their graduate admissions procedures and avoid an over-reliance on GRE scores in determining a candidate’s potential for success in graduate studies. We encourage all staff and faculty who review admissions materials to use a holistic review process to determine an applicant’s potential for success. More reliable success indicators include the applicant’s general academic record, statement of purpose and writing samples, research experience, the context of achievement, and letters of recommendation.

Graduate Student Funding

Our graduate student funding structure is deeply strained and does not provide adequate support for our students. I have been meeting with campus leaders, faculty, and Graduate Division staff to find ways to improve how fellowships and funding work on campus. My team and I are also collaborating with stakeholders to see if we can shift the funding paradigm to be more equitable within and across departments. Stay tuned for more news in 2020.

Supporting Graduate Student Wellness

As we move into the holiday season, I strongly encourage you to pay attention to your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Practicing self-care is one way to maintain your rhythm and focus. Take time to relax, catch up on sleep, have fun and connect with friends and family members. Studies show that taking time off increases productivity in the long-term and boosts overall feelings of satisfaction and well-being.

The Graduate Division is working with campus partners to improve the availability of mental health support specifically designed to address graduate student anxieties and stress.

If the completion of your dissertation or thesis was affected by the power outages this fall, know that we have extended our fall filing deadline to January 10, 2020.

I will be reaching out to you again in the spring to invite you to an online version of our Graduate Student Town Hall.

I wish you and yours a joyful and peaceful holiday season and all the best in the coming year. 

Fiat Lux,

Lisa García Bedolla

Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
and Dean of the Graduate Division