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May 22, 2012
After UC Davis graduate students raised concerns with Chancellor Katehi about the highly decentralized graduate financial support on campus, administrators have been busy working to see that their concerns are addressed.
In the early part of the academic year, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter met with Dean of Graduate Studies Jeffery Gibeling, Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Fred Wood and Administrative and Resource Management Vice Chancellor John Meyer to discuss and understand the broad issues that needed to be addressed. In a letter to Chancellor Katehi, Provost Hexter presented a plan that outlined both immediate action steps and longer-term measures to improve the coordination and communication regarding graduate student financial support.
Graduate students now commonly interact with numerous campus offices in order to receive their financial support, including their graduate program staff and faculty, Graduate Studies, Student Accounting, Financial Aid Office, Cashier's Office and Extramural Accounting. Associate Vice Chancellor Lora Jo Bossio and Assistant Dean Rich Shintaku are leading a work group of representatives from these offices, as well as Graduate Student Assistant to the Dean and Chancellor Lisceth Cruz to develop a long-term approach to address student concerns.
This group created plans of action and some of the actions have already been implemented. "The Financial Aid Office has opened a service window for limited hours that is marked for graduate students to convey unambiguously that they may obtain services," says Hexter.
Other actions include mapping administrative processes from the graduate student perspective and identifying ways to streamline and automate them, as well as recommending a model that will ensure that administrative processes work effectively for students, staff and faculty.
Another action resulted in the development of a limited-term position within the Office of Graduate Studies. During winter quarter, Graduate Studies appointed Director of Business and Financial Services Lisa Finnegan to serve on a special assignment as the Graduate Student Support Options Specialist (Grad SOS).
Finnegan is on assignment through December 31, 2012. Some of her tasks include reviewing the current complex graduate student support administration processes, assisting graduate students who are experiencing complex challenges related to their funding, and providing analytical support to the workgroup. Finnegan has already responded to and resolved several difficult student support problems while documenting the various scenarios/situations for overall review and assessment.
To ensure she is getting all the information she needs to complete the assignment, Finnegan has met with several program staff, graduate students and staff in related offices including the Office of Financial Aid, School of Medicine Financial Aid and Student Accounting. She will soon visit other UC campuses to identify best practices in graduate student support administration.
The end result of this special assignment and the efforts of the work group will be a streamlined and improved funding process for all UC Davis graduate students.
-- By Deonna Anderson
Last Updated: April 10, 2013