February 23, 2018, Updates from Nathan Urban

February 23, 2018

Dear Graduate and Professional Students,

Pitt is fortunate to be able to recruit outstanding groups of graduate and professional students year after year. While at Pitt, many of these students are recognized by local, national and international organizations for their accomplishments. These awards serve as important forms of recognition for our students and are indicators of the success of our graduate programs.

Today (Friday, February 23) the University of Pittsburgh will formally celebrate the academic achievements of our students (and faculty) at Honors Convocation. Numerous graduate and professional students who have received recognition for their achievements will be honored. More than 50 graduate and professional students have won awards from prestigious organizations and foundations, including: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, American Council of Learned Society, Fulbright, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.

While not all awards and accomplishments can be recognized at Honors Convocation, I would like to begin an effort to recognize and celebrate the successes of our graduate and professional students more than once a year. To know about these awards, I will need your help. So, when you or someone you know wins an award, publishes an important paper, or achieves a key milestone, please send me a note. I will collect these and share some in future letters and on social media.

I look forward to attending Honors Convocation at 3 p.m. today and the reception for all honorees that immediately follows. The convocation will be held at the Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Avenue. The reception will be held in the Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Avenue. If you are attending, please stop by at the reception and introduce yourself to me.

Nominations Open for Graduate Commencement Speakers

Speaking of recognition, would you like to represent your peers as a speaker at Commencement? Do you know someone who you would like to deliver a motivating message?

The second Graduate and Professional Commencement Ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center. (Prior to 2017, the University held one commencement ceremony. In 2017, the ceremonies were separated to better recognize the accomplishments of graduate and professional students and to accommodate their families and friends.) The Office of Special Events will be emailing graduating students information about commencement at the end of February.

Since September 2017, we have been working to customize the commencement experience for graduate and professional students. Informed by a focus group consisting of graduate and professional students, the commencement ceremony will include two student speakers – one to represent PhD graduates and one to represent our professional graduates (i.e. MA, MS, MBA, DNP). Also new this year, we are accepting nominations for these speakers from students and faculty. The nomination form is available online.

Funding for Graduate-Student-Organized Interdisciplinary Workshops – Request for Applications

Thanks to those graduate student groups who have submitted applications for the new Graduate-Student-Organized Interdisciplinary Workshops. Two proposals, spanning five different schools, have been funded to support opportunities for students to learn about new research areas. I have been reaching out to other students who submitted applications to discuss how to revise their applications. If you have an idea and wish to submit an application, funding for other workshops is still available. Complete details and a Request for Applications are available at: http://provost.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/InterdisciplinaryWorkshopsRF....

Parenting Panels – Save the Date

The Office of the Provost will host a panel discussion for graduate and professional students and post-docs who are parents or are thinking of becoming parents. This discussion will be offered twice: March 19 from noon to 1 p.m. in Dining Room A, 1st Floor of the William Pitt Union and March 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in 540 William Pitt Union. We anticipate offering childcare for children two years and older during the session in a neighboring room. Partners and children younger than two are welcome to attend the discussion as well. Refreshments will be provided. Panelists will include representatives from the Benefits Office, UPMC, and the Office of the Provost, as well as graduate students who have experience with parenting while pursuing a degree. Look for more details in the coming weeks. If you have suggestions for the discussion, please contact Jennifer Walker at jlwst88@pitt.edu

Graduate and Professional Student Government – Open Positions

The Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) is currently seeking candidates for:

  • Executive Board Officers, including President, Vice President of Committees, Vice President of Communications, Vice President of Finance, and Vice President of Programming
  • Executive Administrator, who is appointed as a Graduate Student Assistant

These opportunities are open to all University of Pittsburgh graduate and professional students. Positions begin in May 2018 and continue through the 2018 – 2019 academic year. Officer positions are eligible to receive a stipend, contingent upon GPSG bylaws (https://gpsg.pitt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/GPSG-Bylaws-Constitutio...). For details about the executive board, see http://gpsg.pitt.edu/elections/ or attend a Candidate Information Session on Friday, February 23 from noon to 1 p.m. at 538 William Pitt Union. For information regarding the GPSG Executive Administrator position, please email GPSG at gpsg@pitt.edu.

A Note on Petition to Rename Parran Hall

You may have heard that earlier this month members of our University community, including graduate students, began circulating a petition to rename Parran Hall—the building that is home to the Graduate School of Public Health. I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the petition, and inform you of the process that is already in progress to address this issue.

In early January, Dean Donald Burke wrote to the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion asking that the University review whether the name is consistent with the University’s core values. As a result, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion began a process to analyze this important concern under the applicable University guidelines. Details of this process can be found at: https://www.diversity.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/ODI%20Complaint%20Guidelines_1.pdf.

Also in January, the University’s Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination, and Advocacy Committee of the University Senate decided to file an institutional concern and has circulated a draft of its position. At this time, a committee of faculty, students, staff and administrators is being created to study this issue and make recommendations.

Please know that further input from the University community is sought and welcomed. To participate, please review the guidelines and submit your position and materials to diversity@pitt.edu.

Professional Development

Versatile PhD: Ask Me Anything Online Event, February 26-28, 2018

Over three days, participate in a wide-ranging question, answer, and follow-up discussion about preparing for and excelling in non-academic careers. Dr. Joseph Barber (PhD in Zoology, 2002) and Dr. Jenny Furlong (PhD in Romance Languages, 2003) help PhDs plan successful careers at the University of Pennsylvania and at CUNY, respectively. Barber maintains an active Zoology presence as consultant, writer, and adjunct faculty member, and Furlong is co-author of The Academic Job Search Handbook. Complete details are available https://versatilephd.com/ask-me-anything-events/.

Did you know that Pitt subscribes to Versatile PhD?

If you’re new to Versatile PhD (VPhD), logon the my.pitt.edu and find the VPhD portal, go through it, and then join Versatile PhD. By creating a VPhD account, you have full access to the content and features of VPhD.

Pitt-CIRTL Community
The Pitt-CIRTL Community provides opportunities for the next generation of STEM faculty to develop knowledge about, and engagement with, evidence-based teaching/learning practices. Programming includes professional development workshops and seminars, semester-long seminar-based courses, journal/book clubs, and learning community lunch meetings where we discuss Teaching-as-Research (TAR) project ideas. PhD students, post-docs, and interested faculty are welcome to join. 

University Library System: Upcoming workshops include “Maker Culture in Education,” “EndNote Basics Workshop,” “Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Workshop,” and more. https://tinyurl.com/ULSworkshops

Teaching Center: Upcoming workshops include “Religious Diversity in the Classroom,” “Time Management Strategies,” “Developing a Teaching Portfolio,” and more. See https://teaching.pitt.edu

Center for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Career Development
Resources on job application skills and tips, including negotiating are available at http://dpcd.pitt.edu/resources/career-transition-resources

Office Hours

Finally, my next monthly office hour is on Monday, February 26 from 11 a.m. to noon in 801 Cathedral of Learning. I am available during this time to answer questions and discuss graduate studies at Pitt.

Nathan Urban
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies

Graduate resources: www.gradstudents.pitt.edu
Updates and News: https://provost.pitt.edu/students/graduate-studies
Follow:  @PittGradStudies
E-mail: VPGraduate-Urban@pitt.edu