September Welcome and Update from the Graduate School

September 3, 2020

Dear Graduate Students,

With the first week of the fall 2020 semester nearly finished, I hope this message finds you safe and well as you engage as scholars in your graduate degree programs.  Whether you are new to Princeton this semester or are continuing your enrollment, my colleagues and I at the Graduate School are committed to supporting your academic, social, and professional goals at every stage of your Princeton experience. 

Much has changed over the past year at Princeton and, indeed, throughout the world.  Juxtaposed with the promise and hope that the new academic year brings are the extraordinary challenges we continue to face together. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every facet of our academic and personal lives and those of our families, friends, and communities. The crisis of violence against Black lives has brought us to a historic moment as a nation, one in which we are called upon to take individual and collective action to combat the pandemic of systemic racism and all of its tragic manifestations. We also acknowledge the challenge of creating a truly inclusive, equitable, and just society, one in which policies and structures support all members of our University communityincluding our undocumented and international students. Earlier this week, President Eisgruber released a statement about Princeton’s commitment to combating systemic racism, including institutional plans. I encourage you to read this summary for additional context on the University’s values and priorities.

I continue to admire the advocacy, resilience, and solidarity of graduate students, faculty, alumni, and staff and all the efforts underway to meet the challenges of this moment. Amidst so much uncertainty, it has been inspiring to witness the Princeton graduate community caring for and supporting one another.  I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the Graduate Student Government (GSG) and all graduate student organizations for the myriad ways they have demonstrated outstanding leadership in these unprecedented times.

 While the fall 2020 semester may look different from previous years, I want to highlight the many resources available to help you. We established the gradfall2020.princeton.edu website to provide you with easy access to detailed FAQs regarding academic affairs, housing, dining, funding, health and wellness, events, and travel guidance. The site also contains individual contact information for Graduate School staff members and links to many University resources.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of all members of the University community is our highest priority. Please act in socially responsible ways and follow public health guidance to help protect yourself and others, and stop the spread of  COVID-19. All graduate students, regardless of their location, have been required to complete mandatory COVID-19 training in order to be enrolled this semester.  For those of you on campus, we are exploring with University Services the possibility of making accessible additional private study spaces for graduate students and hope to provide more information in the coming weeks. 

The University has announced the following health and safety protocols and expanded accommodations and support:

  • All graduate students living in University housing or approved to be on campus eight or more hours per week have received information via email regarding mandatory periodic ASYMPTOMATIC COVID-19 testing. Detailed information about these procedures is available on this site.
  • The previously announced changes and enhancements to the Student Health Plan (SHP) in response to COVID-19  have been extended through November 30, 2020. More information can be found on the UHS website.
  • As a reminder, all graduate students are eligible for 14 COVID-19 days this academic year in addition to approved absence already available through our existing Student Vacation Policy and Personal and Sick Leave Policy

Please note that there are several campus resources available to support your mental health and well-being. Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) can be reached at (609) 258-3141, and virtual CPS office hours are being offered as well. 

Community-Building

We are committed to offering a robust slate of virtual programs and events to build connections and community and facilitate a dialogue with you. Over the next few weeks, we will host virtual office hours to address your questions and hear your ideas for ways we can better support your needs. Deans representing each of the Graduate School teams will be available and are eager to meet you. Watch for an email with registration information.

Please consult the Graduate School’s events calendar for additional virtual community-building, social, and professional development events.  I’d especially like to call your attention the Inclusive Leadership Learning Cohort Series developed by the GradFUTURES and Access, Diversity, and Inclusion teams. This series was developed as part of President Eisguber’s call to action for the Princeton community and will offer seven unique sessions to prepare graduate students with inclusive leadership skills as a way to combat systemic racism. Leaders with this skillset can help build and sustain inclusive cultures at every level within our institutions, organizations, and communities. I do hope you will consider joining these important conversations.

We are also planning small group, in-person outdoor activities in the near future to allow for the opportunity to engage in socially distanced recreational activities with your fellow graduate students. In addition, Dillon Gym will re-open for students on Monday, September 14th by Reservation Only and with room capacity restrictions. Please check out the Campus Recreation website for reopening details (as they become available), fall programs, and the new equipment rental program.

 As we move forward together in a time that requires us all to be forward-thinking, I encourage you to begin the academic year with great enthusiasm and the knowledge that the Graduate School staff and the entire University community are here to help you learn and thrive at Princeton and beyond. 

With all best wishes,

Cole M. Crittenden

Deputy Dean and Acting Dean of the Graduate School