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Graduate School Updates About COVID-19

We continue to monitor developments related to COVID-19 (coronavirus). All UL Lafayette updates are posted on the University's official COVID-19 page, and graduate students should continue to monitor this website for complete information and the latest news regarding this rapidly evolving situation. The Office of the Provost also has developed a webpage to consolidate remote learning guidance and resources for faculty and students.

Please plan to monitor this page and the Graduate School social media accounts for additional updates specific to graduate students, graduate assistants (GTAs, GRAs, and GA), and graduate applicants.

Know that the Graduate School is committed to supporting all graduate students as we navigate public health concerns and the transition to remote course delivery.

Graduate School COVID-19 Updates

Duolingo English Test Scores - 2020.05.14

International applicants should note that the Graduate School has approved the temporary use of the Duolingo English Test scores as an alternative to IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE scores. Please visit our applicant FAQ for details.

New Process for GTA/GRA/GA Appointments and PAFs (2020.05.04)

The Graduate School has introduced a new process for submission of PAFs for graduate assistantship appointments.

Graduate coordinators and assistantship supervisors are invited to initiate GTA/GRA/GA appointments now using this form for Summer Intercession, Summer, and Fall 2020. Upon submission, the Graduate School will review the information, contact you if there is additional information needed, and route the PAF for the appropriate approvals. Know that we will be utilizing DocuSign for routing Summer Intercession and Summer GTA/GRA/GA PAFs. The platform to be used for securing approvals for Fall and 2020-2021 academic year assistantship appointment will be determined at a later date.

Prior to submission of your appointments using the link above, we ask that you review your plans for graduate student hiring in your individual areas with your immediate supervisors.

To ensure time for review and routing, take note of the following deadlines:

  • Summer Intercession PAF forms are due May 11.
  • Summer PAF forms are due May 22.
  • Fall (or 2020-2021) PAF forms are due June 1.

Please be reminded that no graduate student appointed as a GTA/GRA/GA may be permitted to work until official notification of PAF approval has been received. Unauthorized hiring may result in disciplinary action.

Policies governing assistantship appointments may be found in the University Catalog here.

Important Graduate Application News and Applicant FAQs - 2020.04.27

The Graduate School has made some temporary changes to our application requirements and processes. Please visit our applicant FAQ page for details and guidance for applicants and recently-admitted students. Highlights include the following:

1. Select programs have suspended the GRE requirement for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 applications.

2. Recently-admitted international applicants who require an I-20 may submit their financial documentation through the application portal.

3. Postal mail will be received twice weekly during remote operations. Documents sent by courier service should use the following address:

UL Graduate School
620 McKinley St, Room 138
PO Box 43716
Lafayette, LA 70504

Guidance for Submitting Forms during Remote Operations (updated 2020.04.03)

To facilitate the submission of forms and required signatures in Spring 2020, the Graduate School will accept formal notifications, forms, and faculty approvals electronically as follows:

For Final Reports, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon notification to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu by the chairperson of the committee or graduate coordinator (via their UL email address) that a student has successfully completed all degree requirements (e.g., comprehensive exam and/or oral defense), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of this Final Report notification. All committee members will be required to provide approval using their UL email address (or, in the case of external members, an email address associated with their professional appointment).

For thesis/dissertation/synthesis project Approval Pages, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon receipt of the Preliminary Approval Form at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu from the chairperson of the committee (via their UL email address), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of the defended manuscript. All committee members will be required to provide approval using their UL email address (or, in the case of external members, an email address associated with their professional appointment).

For Applications for Candidacy, no signatures will be required at this time. Rather, the student should complete all parts of the form and forward it by email to the graduate coordinator for review and approval. The graduate coordinator is asked to confirm that the committee members identified have agreed to serve on the student's committee. Upon doing so and using their UL email, the graduate coordinator will then forward the form confirming approval and committee membership to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu.

For all other forms and required signatures, the Graduate School will accept forms and approvals electronically at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu as follows:

1. The student should complete all parts of the form (e.g., Preliminary Approval Form, Transfer Credit Request, Petition for Regular Status) and forward it by email to the appropriate faculty member in their department (most often the committee chair or graduate coordinator) for review and approval.

2. Upon review and approval, the committee chair and/or graduate coordinator shall convey approval to the Graduate School by sending the completed form as a pdf document to the email address above. Approval signatures from required individuals will be accepted:

  • whenever possible, on the scanned form with actual ink hand-signed signatures
  • from a UL email account in which the approver indicates their approval of the form, and it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached
  • from a professional email address of an approver external to UL Lafayette (i.e., external committee member), and again it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached

GUIDANCE FOR GRAD ASSISTANTS (GTA/GRA/GA), FELLOWS, AND SUPERVISORS

2020.03.26

The University is committed to supporting its student employees to the greatest extent possible. To this end, graduate assistants (including GAs, GTAs, and GRAs) and fellows will continue to receive their regular pay. Graduate assistants and fellows will continue to receive their monthly stipends and tuition/fee waivers.

The procedures for reporting time are as follows:

  • Supervisors for graduate assistants and fellows must submit a GA-Fellow Continuity Plan (found on our website here) to the Graduate School for each funded student.
  • Payroll will email a voucher to graduate assistants and fellows at the end of each pay period.
  • Graduate assistants and fellows must forward the completed voucher to GradSchoolApprovals@louisiana.edu.
  • Graduate assistants and fellows must confirm in the body of the forwarded email whether they were able/unable to complete duties as had been expected.
  • The Graduate School will approve and forward the voucher to Payroll.

2020.03.20

Yesterday, the University announced that remote learning courses will be continued through the end of the Spring 2020 semester.

In light of this decision (and given recommendations from public health officials, developing restrictions on travel, and the continuing fluid nature of this situation), it is expected that graduate assistants/fellows and their supervisors will finalize a basic continuity plan for continued duties. This expectation is because we understand that the work that graduate assistants and fellows do is integral to the teaching, research, and administrative mission of the University, but also provides critical living stipends, tuition/fee waivers, and support for graduate students’ progress toward degree in other important ways. Our goal is to ensure that this important support and work continues.

Supervisors are now asked to complete the continuity plan found on our website here for each graduate assistant (GTA, GRA, GA) and fellow in their area. Please discuss with your department, college, unit leadership as necessary. Questions can also be directed to Dean Farmer-Kaiser at mary.farmer-kaiser@louisiana.edu. Completed forms should be sent to GradSchoolApprovals@louisina.edu. (Please do not send them to Dr. Farmer-Kaiser's email address.)

Graduate students who presently serve as a GTA, GRA, GA, or fellow, if you have not already done so, please be in touch with your supervisor to discuss how duties and communications will continue during the Spring 2020 semester.

Remote Operations - 2020.03.23

As you know, Governor John Bel Edwards recently issued a statewide stay-at-home order that requires all Louisiana residents to shelter in their homes except to perform essential tasks.

In compliance with that order, beginning at 5pm today, the Graduate School moved to fully remote operations. What does that mean for you? It means that you can rest assured that we’re all still working with you and for you—just in our own homes.

During this time of remote operations, the best way to reach us is via email at gradschool@louisiana.edu. You can also reach our individual staff members by email or by calling their individual office phone numbers, which are available on our website.

You will be the first to know when the Graduate School offices in Martin Hall reopen in person. For now, know that you are in our thoughts. Stay well, and remember that we will get through this together.

Withdrawals, Resignations, and Leave of Absence - 2020.03.20

On Thursday, March 19, the Registrar’s Office announced that the date to withdraw/resign from classes this Spring has been pushed back (and also that the process has been changed to accommodate a remote request). Like you, I’m glad these announcements were made.

My hope is that this later deadline gives you the time you need to adapt to the changing situation. Those of you who work in health care fields, I know are already finding it hard to align your graduate studies with new developments in this very fluid situation. Others of you who are parents are trying hard to figure out how to make graduate studies work now that children are home. And so many others are working to set up home workspaces that need to be shared with partners and roommates. And, of course, there’s the constant stream of fluid, scary information about all matters related to Covid-19. (Oh, and there’s the incredibly appealing escape provided by Netflix, videogaming, etc.) It’s a lot to take in.

So, with all that’s coming your way, I want you to take the time you need to assess the current situation before you make any big decisions about grad school. Get into your classes, see how they are changing in this remote environment and ask your professors questions (all of them—big, small, and even those that you fear might seem ridiculous). Figure out how your work expectations are changing. Get your kids, partners, and roommates settled.

There is now no rush to make the decision to drop a class or resign. But, should the time come, and you decide to make the hard decision that graduate studies is too much to handle in this moment, then, yes, initiate the steps outlined by the Registrar’s Office to withdraw/resign from classes. If you do decide to resign, however, I hope you will simultaneously take the step to request a Leave of Absence. We want you back here when you’re ready to be back, and a formal Leave of Absence will make it easier to return.

Progress toward degree and graduate degree completion - 2020.03.17

Progress toward degree and graduate degree completion are tough even in the best of circumstances, and we understand that developments related to COVID-19 are causing additional anxiety as our graduate students work to move forward with preliminary/comprehensive exams, qualifying papers, thesis/dissertation defenses, DNP synthesis project presentations, and other important academic milestones.

The following procedures have been put in place for Spring 2020 to assist us all in navigating public health concerns, the changes that have come with the transition to remote course delivery, and the need to keep progress toward degree completion moving.

The published deadlines for Spring 2020 remain in effect at this time for graduate written/oral examinations, submission of defended thesis/dissertation manuscripts, and final copies of thesis/dissertation manuscripts to the Graduate School.

Effective immediately and throughout the period of mandated remote instruction, the Graduate School strongly recommends that preliminary/comprehensive exams, defenses, and committee meetings be conducted remotely via videoconferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom. See below for some resources that might assist you in setting up these remote meetings:

Microsoft Teams Training Guide (see also UL Lafayette resources on Teams)
Zoom Guide to Videoconferencing (Pro Version)

If the campus remains open and it is truly not feasible to conduct preliminary/comprehensive exams and/or defenses remotely, the committee chairperson may petition the Dean of the Graduate School to conduct milestone requirements in person. I ask that you take care to consult with your department head as well as the student and all committee members prior to making this request. The request must identify all participants, proposed location, date, time, and identify remote/in-person participants individually. For any in-person meetings, social distancing is an absolute necessity.

For graduate programs that require a public dissertation/thesis defense, beginning immediately and continuing throughout the period of mandated remote instruction, defenses are to be limited to the student and committee members (and outside observer, if assigned by the Graduate School).

For Spring 2020, the Graduate School will assign outside observers only if formally requested using the Outside Observer Request Form at http://gradschool.louisiana.edu/outsideobserver. If you are a member of the Graduate Faculty who is available to serve in this capacity, please complete the Outside Observer Availability Form at http://gradschool.louisiana.edu/outsideobserveravail.

To facilitate the submission of forms and required signatures in Spring 2020, the Graduate School will accept formal notifications, forms, and faculty approvals electronically as follows:

For Final Reports, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon notification to gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu by the chairperson of the committee or graduate coordinator (via their UL email address) that a student has successfully completed all degree requirements (e.g., comprehensive exam and/or oral defense), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of this Final Report notification. All committee members will be required to use their UL email address to provide approval.

Similarly, for thesis/dissertation/synthesis project Approval Pages, no signatures will be required. Rather, upon receipt of the Preliminary Approval Form at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu from the chairperson of the committee (via their UL email address), the Graduate School will email each committee member requesting that they individually provide approval of the defended manuscript. All committee members will be required to use their UL email address to provide approval.

For all other forms and required signatures, the Graduate School will accept forms and approvals electronically at gradschoolapprovals@louisiana.edu as follows:

  1.     The student should complete all parts of the form (e.g., Preliminary Approval Form, Transfer Credit Request, Petition for Regular Status, Application for Candidacy) and forward it by email to the appropriate faculty member in their department (most often the committee chair or graduate coordinator) for review and approval.
  2.     Upon review and approval, the committee chair and/or graduate coordinator shall convey approval to the Graduate School by sending the completed form as a pdf document to the email address above. Approval signatures from required individuals will be accepted:

- whenever possible, on the scanned form with actual ink hand-signed signatures
- from a UL email account in which the approver indicates their approval of the form, and it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached
- from a professional email address of an approver external to UL Lafayette (i.e., external committee member), and again it is sufficient for the approver to note approval in the body of the email to which the form is attached

Fortunately, the Graduate School process for final review and approval of defended theses, dissertations, and synthesis projects is managed remotely already. No changes will be made to this process other than that (1) we ask that Preliminary Approval Forms be submitted by committee chairpersons (electronically as noted above and instead of by the student) and (2) we will be developing remote workshops (and continuing remote office hours) to support our thesis, dissertation, and synthesis project writers. Those who have applied for graduation in Spring 2020 will receive additional guidance shortly from Dr. Philip de Mahy in the Graduate School.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Graduate School if you have questions and stay tuned for new developments in this very fluid situation.

And again, make sure that you are taking care of yourself and remember that we remain here for you.

A MESSAGE FROM DEAN FARMER-KAISER - 2020.03.18

Graduate Student Parking - 2020.03.15

Please know that Transportation Services will not be running buses from Cajun Field on Monday and Tuesday, and continuing while on-campus courses are conducted remotely. During this time, graduate students involved in the instructional mission, research, and/or who are on assistantships in other areas that necessitates them to be on campus are permitted to park in Zone 15 (Earl K. Long Gym and Oliver Hall lot).

Transition to Remote Instruction - 2020.03.14

Yesterday, the University announced that beginning on March 18 all on-campus instruction will transition to remote instruction. Online courses will not change.

Graduate students enrolled in on-campus or hybrid courses should plan to participate remotely (and not to come to campus specifically for face-to-face instruction). Faculty will be in touch with you next week to guide you in this transition. Faculty and/or graduate program leadership will communicate with graduate students in clinical (and other kinds of professional placements) and labs to provide guidance about how these important program requirements will be managed.

Graduate students involved in the instructional mission, research, and/or who are on assistantships with activities other than the instructional mission and research, should refer to the information below for additional guidance.

Graduate students serving as instructors and/or supporting courses as a GTA should contact the department/faculty responsible for the respective courses for guidance on how to adapt/deliver a course via a remote delivery format appropriate for the course and/or how to support faculty doing so. The University has prepared the resources below for faculty and GTAs regarding remote teaching and learning.

Moodle Basics for Faculty and GTAs
    Hosted by Distance Learning, the Moodle Basics webinar covers how to: locate the Moodle course shell, make the course available to students, post contact information, upload course syllabi and instructional materials, send announcements, create quizzes and discussion forums, monitor activity, grade assignments, and host virtual office hours. Each workshop is 90 minutes and includes an hour-long presentation and a Q&A session.
        ○ View available webinar times and register.
        ○ UPDATE (2020.03.17): The Moodle Basics sessions for faculty and GTAs are online only now. The link for joining either Zoom session is https://ullafayette.zoom.us/my/distancelearning.

Tutorials and Guides
    This guide developed by the Office of Distance Learning provides the “essential steps” for setting up a course and sharing coursework in Moodle. View tutorials and guides.

Teaching Remotely FAQs and Resources
    This resource page offers answers to FAQs, an intro to important tools and resources, and a guide for creating a course continuity plan. View Teaching Remotely FAQs and resources.
    
 ● Additionally, several universities have produced, or are updating, emergency guidelines for teaching online. The Chronicle of Higher Education Teaching Newsletter recently highlighted these as being particularly thorough.
        ○ The University of California at Santa Cruz has put together this guide on teaching during unplanned events. It offers both technical and pedagogical advice.
        ○ Indiana University has developed a “Keep Teaching” guide that walks instructors through different scenarios, including complex ones, such as how to replicate lab activities online.
        ○ Kansas State University Global Campus has created an interactive online community to share resources and advice for planning academic continuity.
        ○ Daniel Stanford, director of faculty development and technology innovation at the DePaul University Center for Teaching and Learning, created a handy Google document with links to remote-teaching resources at various colleges. Readers can add their own college’s resources to the list.

Graduate students conducting research for their theses, dissertations, synthesis projects, or as part of a research assistantship are expected to continue their research activities. Research labs should implement mechanisms and/or shift activities to conduct research remotely wherever possible (e.g., computational work, research of online resources and databases, data analysis, etc.). Where research activities on campus and in associated research facilities are necessary, additional practices should be adopted to keep health and safety a priority (see below). Please contact your research supervisor for further guidance or if you have additional questions. To minimize the disruption of graduate students’ research progress, please consider the following steps:

● When possible, allow graduate students to perform their research remotely.
● If research cannot be performed remotely, research supervisors are asked to consider the following steps to minimize risk in the research environment:
        Be flexible and understanding when working with graduate students to develop plans for their research.
        ○ Stagger schedules so that researchers can avoid close contact.
        ○ Identify pieces of equipment and areas that are used frequently by multiple people. Enact cleaning practices so that each user disinfects the equipment and/or areas as appropriate following each use.
        ○ Develop a schedule and contingency plan to ensure that research activities that are critical and require a physical presence, such as ongoing research studies with animals, are not disrupted.
        ○ Graduate students with health issues that put them at high risk if they contract COVID-19 should be allowed to perform research activities remotely. These activities could include data analyses, online research, writing, literature reviews, etc.
        ○ Recognize that the situation is rapidly evolving and may cause anxiety in our graduate students, not only with respect to their personal health and wellness, but also that of their friends and families.

Graduate students on assistantships with activities other than the instructional mission and research are expected to report for work even as on-campus classes have been suspended. This expectation is because we understand that the work graduate assistants do provides stipends, tuition/fee waivers, and supports your progress toward degree in other important ways. Plan to talk with your assistantship supervisor on Monday to discuss how your duties will continue. Supervisors may consider alternative work assignments, separate work areas, staggered/accommodated/flexible scheduling, and/or remote work as appropriate.

Please know that your faculty, supervisors, graduate programs, and the Graduate School are committed to supporting all graduate students as we navigate public health concerns and the transition to remote course delivery.

Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and remember that we are here for you.