Welcome to a New Academic Year from Nathan Urban

August 18, 2017

Dear Graduate and Professional Students,

Fall is an exciting time on campus with the beginning of a new academic year and the arrival of new and returning students! As part of my commitment to improve communication with graduate and professional students across our campus, I am writing to provide you updates as the semester begins on several topics below.

New Graduate and Professional Student Orientation - Tuesday, August 22nd. Orientation will give new students more opportunities to learn about services and programs offered by the University.

  • Welcome, panel discussions and resource fair: 2-5 PM. Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum
  • Picnic and cookout: 5-7 PM. Cathedral of Learning Lawn by the Log Cabin

Orientation is organized by the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG), with support from Graduate Studies in the Office of the Provost. For more information, see the GPSG orientation site.

The Year of Healthy U. The Provost has declared this to be the “Year of Healthy U” - a year with a focus on promoting the physical, mental and social well-being of the University community. Proposals for activities such as lectures, workshops and other events are being accepted here: https://pitt.wufoo.com/forms/z8kdbb303ts9ae/.

The Graduate Studies team in the Office of the Provost has been working with Student Affairs to expand the annual Healthy U Fair to include information and activities for graduate students. The Fair, is from 10 AM-2 PM on Friday September 25th on the William Pitt Union lawn, and Lower Lounge. Representatives from health and wellness-related organizations from across the University (such as student health) and city (such as fitness facilities and counseling organizations) will be available to meet with students and talk about the programs and services that they offer. All graduate and professional students are invited. Raffles and giveaways should also encourage you to stop by!

Get Involved.  Student involvement is the best way to build and sustain a strong and robust graduate and professional student community. You have the opportunity to take many different roles in the University - from department-level leadership roles to service at the University level through the Graduate and Professional Student Government. You also have the opportunity to serve on some of the most important and influential committees in the University such as the University Planning and Budgeting Committee and the the University Council on Graduate Study. These committees play an important role in University’s shared governance and work on issues critical to graduate and professional students.
Membership of these and other committees is managed through the GPSG and the Vice President of committees, Caitlin Sniezek.

Graduate Student Unionization. Many of you will have seen the Provost’s letter last month describing the University’s position on the ongoing graduate student unionization efforts and some of you may have been approached about signing a union card. Unionization is an important and complex issue and I encourage you to learn as much as you can about it, and about the implications of signing a union card before taking any action. The web site http://gradstudentunionization.pitt.edu/ is one of many sources of information about unionization and I would also be happy to discuss this issue with students.
I look forward to meeting many of you at Orientation and over the coming weeks.  I am committed to doing all that I can to support graduate and professional students at Pitt, and I want to hear from you.  Feel free to contact me at VPGraduate-Urban@pitt.edu, or stop by my next office hour on Friday August 25th at 10:30 AM in 826 Cathedral of Learning.

Nathan Urban
Vice Provost for Graduate Studies