June 9, 2022
Dear IU Bloomington Faculty, Staff and Student Academic Appointees,
Our faculty, graduate students, and staff are pillars of Indiana University—drivers of our ability to advance our state, nation, and the world through research, academic excellence that prepares our students for societal impact, and creative endeavors that bring new perspectives forward. Good faith efforts to improve the graduate student experience and address concerns of the faculty are essential not simply for the graduate students themselves, but for the health and strength of IU and our Bloomington flagship, as well as the success of our undergraduate students.
As such, I write with an update about the Task Force on Graduate Education, its working groups, and key next steps for action in the weeks and months to come.
First, however, I want to thank our Bloomington faculty and our students for their advocacy in recent weeks. This includes formal action taken by Faculty Council and the collaborative nature of the numerous conversations between my office, members of the faculty, and individual graduate students. We will continue to co-create solutions that address the vital concerns of our graduate students through such formal and informal channels throughout the summer and into the new semester. And to that end, we have invited an array of graduate student groups—including representatives of the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition, the Graduate and Professional Student Government, and the Forum for International Graduate Students, among others—to meet with James Wimbush, Dean of the University Graduate School, and David Daleke, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Health Sciences and Associate Dean of the University Graduate School, during the week of June 13th.
These conversations are crucial and will remain a priority, as collaboration with students and faculty have yielded important improvements announced thus far. These include Student Academic Appointee (SAA) pay raises and a higher minimum SAA pay (which will go into effect with contracts for the 2022-23 academic year); reforms that will permit tuition waivers to be applied to any class at IU that meets an approved program of study; and the faculty leadership’s action to reconstitute the SAA Affairs Committee of the Bloomington Faculty Council.
Second, while important, these initial steps must be followed with additional reforms developed collaboratively with students, staff, and faculty. My office—along with the administration at large and with support from the IU Board of Trustees—will work diligently with colleagues across campus to jointly address the lingering and substantive concerns raised by students and faculty.
To this end, the charge to the Task Force and its working groups will focus on ensuring long-term and sustainable solutions, while also making recommendations for swift action this summer. The working groups will address (1) financial support, (2) health and wellness, (3) curriculum and academics, (4) diversity, equity, and inclusion, (5) professional and career development, and (6) housing.
Throughout this process, we will seek robust participation from faculty, staff, and students. It is my intent that we will be guided by the following principles:
Innovation in Service of Students. Building on key strengths across disciplines at IU Bloomington, we must focus on building a transformational future for graduate education at IU.
Collaboration and Co-Creation. It is vital that this process involves key stakeholders from across our community.
Equity. We must advance equity and inclusion while we promote the success and well-being of all researchers and learners.
It is also imperative that the work of the Task Force is transparent to ensure that our faculty, staff, and students can participate fully in these key solutions. You can expect a minimum of twice-monthly updates from my office, and others on a monthly basis from the Task Force directly. I have specifically requested preliminary guidance from the Task Force this summer so that we can address the most critical issues as quickly as possible.
We will also launch a website to host crucial information about the Task Force, its work, and reforms that may stem from their collaborative efforts.
Finally, I am deeply grateful to the Bloomington Faculty Council, outgoing BFC President Marietta Simpson, James Wimbush, David Daleke, and countless faculty and staff for leading efforts to improve the graduate student experience at IU Bloomington.
Thank you for your engagement in this crucial work. Our pursuit of collective change may be difficult, but it is essential to our shared future. I look forward to what we can accomplish together.
Provost & Executive Vice President
Indiana University Bloomington