Welcome to the Spring Semester
Dear Graduate Center colleagues,
Tomorrow is the first day of the spring semester, and I share your commitment to making it an excellent one for our entire community.
To start, I invite you to stop by the lobby tomorrow and Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. for snacks and conversation. I will be there to welcome you to the first days of classes.
At the close of last semester, I spoke about my vision to strengthen the Graduate Center as a vibrant hub for research and doctoral education. This means continuing to recruit outstanding students and faculty, enhancing our community, improving operations, and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion as central to our mission and purpose.
I want to update you on progress and preview next steps.
One of my top priorities is to increase investment in the Graduate Center and our students. To that end, I am thrilled and grateful to announce that CUNY is providing an additional $1.6 million for student support this year, which puts us on track to close the current fiscal year with a balanced budget. Importantly, CUNY is committed to sustaining that higher level of support going forward.
Provost Everett and I are also working closely with the chancellery to advocate for increased New York State funding for graduate student fellowships and greater investment in CUNY research. We will continue our advocacy throughout the spring and in the year ahead and appreciate that many of you have offered to help us in that work. Thank you.
Another goal is to strengthen our community and advance equity and inclusion. I have a few updates to share on this.
First, our affirmative-action plans, which detail our progress on and plans for creating a diverse and inclusive community, are in their final review and will be linked from the Graduate Center website shortly.
Also, I intend to keep lines of communication open. As part of that, I will be hosting with Provost Everett three in-person community meetings this semester. The first will be on Wednesday, February 15 at noon in the Skylight Room. I invite you to join us for these important conversations.
I fully recognize the importance of providing affordable onsite food options to our students and community and we are actively seeking solutions. For now, the Dining Commons and Foundation Lounge are open, and we are working to expand the variety and quality of snacks and beverages that are available.
I have expressed my commitment to improving administrative functions and am happy to provide updates on the progress that is being made in this important area.
To streamline financial operations and improve the reimbursement process, the Business Office has returned to in-person drop-in hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can now submit reimbursement materials directly to staff members, who will be able to provide guidance and field questions in real time.
Other offices are also returning to in-person services. Notably, the Office of International Students announced its new drop-in and live-chat hours. International students can connect immediately with an advisor and office members about issues or concerns.
The Library has returned to its pre-pandemic hours, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
This spring, the Graduate Center will host a wide range of events in-person. The new CUNY visitor access policy supports our goal of inviting the public to join us for seminars, lectures, exhibitions, and performances without burdening our staff. Campus visitors are no longer required to show proof of COVID vaccination or testing.
The Graduate Center has distinguished itself as a global forum for scholars and artists. We thrive on interaction and dialogue. This semester, I encourage you to take full advantage of this remarkable community, beyond classes, research, or your professional role. Sample an art exhibition in the James Gallery, such as the moving show of Ukrainian art on view through February 10, enjoy a student music performance, or attend a seminar or program that is outside of your discipline.
Over the break, I had the pleasure of meeting with many members of our community. The interactions helped me understand people’s experiences, address concerns, formulate new solutions, and refine strategic priorities.
I will continue reaching out, and my door remains open. I look forward to collaborating with you to make this spring productive and fulfilling for all members of our community.
Robin L. Garrell