Whether you are new to Rackham or a student continuing on your path to degree, I would like to extend my welcome and to share my excitement for the promise of a new academic year at the graduate school.
This year that excitement is tempered by three simultaneous and interconnected challenges that our Rackham community has been striving to address since the spring. COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of research, scholarship, and instruction, along with our personal lives and the lives of those we care about and care for. Continued instances of violence against Black people in our nation have laid bare—and brought a historic moment of reckoning with—the discrimination and unjust policies and practices of centuries of institutionalized racism. The effects of racism are present in our own university, with its legacy of privileging white individuals. And we also recognize the cruel ramifications of federal policy changes and proclamations, especially for international and undocumented students.
I admire the way Rackham students, staff, and faculty have responded to these challenges over the past few months. I respect the resilience, activism, and mutual support you all have displayed. As the new term gets underway, there are many avenues at Rackham and across the university to help you. You can learn more about them through the Rackham COVID-19 Resource Page, including links to important campus updates, information on emergency funding, advice for fostering mental health, and more. This page will be updated regularly, and additions to it will be communicated each week in our student email newsletter.
Despite the uncertainties this term poses, Rackham will continue to offer resources and assistance to support you in every facet of your graduate education.
- Support and Well-Being
As a graduate student, you are often working to navigate studies, research, and relationships with peers and advisors. For times when you need guidance, Rackham provides help. U-M Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has an embedded staff member, Dr. Laura Monschau, dedicated to working specifically with graduate students. The Rackham website offers additional resources, including contact information for Rackham’s Resolution Office, which offers a safe and private pathway to discussing concerns. You’ll also find details on where to report bias, discrimination, or harassment, and connections to various student communities.
In addition to fellowships for students at different stages of their degree, Rackham offers grants to support research, grants to support professional development, funds to help in emergency situations, and more.
- Professional and Academic Development
Rackham offers numerous avenues for you to develop the skills necessary to be successful in your professional and academic development during your student experience and as you transition to your career. These include our Professional Development DEI Certificate, Program in Public Scholarship, embedded career counselor, workshops, and much more.
I encourage you to take full advantage of the ways that Rackham can be your ally in pursuing your goals, and to take time to browse the full range of opportunities available on the Rackham website.
Outside of our current offerings, we are always committed to finding new ways to enhance student success and catalyze new research in the field of graduate education. As part of this effort, we survey different groups of Rackham students to learn more about your experiences. It is important that we hear from students from all backgrounds and programs. Therefore, if you receive a survey invitation from us, I hope you will participate so that all of us at Rackham—and those who follow us—can benefit. These research surveys dovetail with the planning and outreach we are doing with faculty and student organizations to develop long-term strategies for your benefit.
Of course, this academic year, there is something else I must ask you to do for Rackham, for yourselves, and for the entire University of Michigan community. Please join your fellow students, along with U-M faculty and staff, in a shared responsibility to follow safety measures across campus to help protect us all and stop the spread of COVID-19. Keep a safe distance of 6 feet or more. Wear a face covering. Limit the size of your gatherings, and meet outdoors if possible. Wash your hands thoroughly. Stay home if you feel sick. And please help inform others about the importance of following these public health guidelines so we can all continue to work, learn, and pursue our goals.
Communication and dialogue will be vital in the year ahead, and I commit to engaging with you about what you’re experiencing. To that end, I will be writing a regular column in the student newsletter to address questions and concerns I hear from Rackham students and the student organizations who represent you. In addition, we have a long history of town hall dialogues at Rackham—we hold four per year—and will continue to hold those this year. Finally, I will host a State of the Graduate School event, to which you will soon receive an invitation.
Much of this semester will be different from what we have known before. What will not change, however, is that all of us at Rackham will strive each day to create an environment in which you feel safe, valued, and welcome, and in which you can engage in the discovery, free inquiry, open exchange of ideas, and creation of knowledge that graduate education is all about.