As Berkeley's Graduate Division gears up for the fall semester, they have much to celebrate as they've completed their first year under the leadership of Fiona Doyle as Dean with positive changes on the organizational and unit level, enhanced their GSAO monthly meetings, and participated in an external community of practice with peer institutions.

Effective Fall 2014 the Graduate Degrees Office revamped its administrative structure and service model to allow for direct and ongoing collaborative effort between the Graduate Division’s Student Advisors and those in the departments and programs. In addition, in July 2014 the Graduate Division launched the GradDashboard, an electronic portal for advising information, policy and resources for graduate staff and faculty advisors. This electronic portal contains procedure handbooks from each of four service units, process guides for departments interested in degree and program changes, and copies of graduate program assessments and outcomes. GradDashboard also serves as a “bulletin board” for announcements of interest to graduate advising staff; new announcements posted to GradDashboard automatically generate an email newsletter to our internally managed campus advisor listserv.

Graduate Division continues to support the efforts of individual advisors as well through monthly meetings for the campus’ Graduate Student Affairs Officers (GSAO). These meetings are used to share announcements, explain updated procedures or practices, and to distribute admissions and funding allocations to individual departments. Although these meetings have been established and increasingly popular for several years, an increased effort was made in 2014-15 to also offer a monthly “special topic.” These special topics often include a presentation from a campus unit that offers services to graduate students about which the GSAOs may not know of or could understand further. In 2014-15, presenters included Berkeley International Office, Disabled Students Program, ASUC Student Legal Clinic, Student Information System Replacement Project, and Graduate Diversity Program.

Graduate Division also leads the way in the external community by participating as a member of a consortium of peer institutions called Ivy Plus that includes the eight Ivy League universities, University of Chicago, M.I.T., and Stanford. The deans of the Graduate Division (including assistant and associate deans) attend bi-annual meetings to discuss topics of interest and concern to our institutions. Berkeley, with the largest graduate student population as well as being the only public institution in the group, provides ongoing leadership and guidance to our colleagues on topics such as unionization of graduate student instructors, professional development for graduate students, diversity, Title IX, and advanced student funding among others. They exchange ideas and information with peers regarding graduate funding packages, time-to-degree, student mental health and wellness, and academic support structures.  Between meetings twice a year, the Ivy Plus deans communicate and share information via email and shared online documents for benchmarking within the context of our community of peer institutions.