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Vice Provost for Education Newsletter for Graduate & Professional Students

Announcements from Vice Provost for Education Beth A. Winkelstein, Ph.D.

Checking In

This has been a semester of tremendous disturbances and daily uncertainty. Many of you have been uprooted from your homes and asked to travel great distances to settle in with family or friends. Many of you are being asked to move instructional content online without much time or preparation. Many of you are also making the same adjustment to remote learning in your own classes. Many of you will graduate this semester without seeing your classmates and faculty again in person. All of these changes have been disruptive and stressful. I want you to know that we are aware of this. We have been called upon to make difficult decisions under constantly shifting circumstances. I hope at least by now you are settling into a place that is safe in all regards and can turn your attention, as we are, to what will be our new normal for several weeks or months.

Recognizing that you may need extra resources at this time to support you and help you feel connected to campus, I am dedicating this issue of my newsletter to listing some the remote services available to you. Although on-campus operations are suspended, most offices and departments are providing some kind of virtual or remote services / appointments. I am highlighting several University-wide resources, and you should also check with your school and program for additional resources and policies.


General Resources for All Graduate & Professional Students

COVID-19 Information

The most up to date information on University operations and guidance can be found at https://coronavirus.upenn.edu/. In particular, we direct students in coursework to look at the Student FAQ for Taking Courses Remotely.


As you may have heard over the last few days, there have been several announcements regarding Pass/Fail course elections for Spring 2020. The FAQ for Taking Courses Remotely specifies that all PhD students may choose to designate any currently enrolled course Pass/Fail for the Spring 2020 term. You may take as many of your Spring 2020 courses Pass/Fail as you choose, and you will have until the end of the day on April 13 to make the request of whether to take any course on a Pass/Fail basis. In order to allow students the ability to continue to be graded should you elect that, you must “opt in” to this expanded Pass/Fail option. Courses you select as Pass/Fail during Spring 2020 will count towards your PhD degree requirements.

Since professional degree programs set their own curricular rules, they may or may not offer a similar Pass/Fail option for their students this term. Please ask your Dean or Program Director if you are unsure.

Counseling & Psychological Services

CAPS remains available to students during these unprecedented times. Services may be performed via phone or video conference, as well as in person. If you are a current client, your counselor will communicate with you about your needs moving forward. CAPS will be offering services from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday. Any time our CAPS office is closed, a clinician is still available by phone.

Student Health Service

SHS will have limited hours of operation during the current health emergency. However, If SHS is closed, a SHS provider is available by telephone for medical advice and consultation at 215-746-3535. 

Graduate Student Center

Although the Grad Center will be closed for the remainder of the semester, many of their services and activities will be available remotely. The Grad Center has specifically organized Spring 2020 Resources for Graduate & Professional Students, a collection of resources and opportunities for virtual engagement to help you stay connected and academically successful while campus operations are suspended. Have an idea for a virtual program or resource you’d like to see? Let us know by emailing gradcenter@upenn.edu or submitting this form.

Weingarten Learning Resources Center

The WLRC staff continues to support students by providing academic assistance (e.g., individual consultations with learning instructors, tutoring) through virtual platforms and by overseeing implementation of accommodations for students with disabilities. 

Penn Libraries

The Penn Libraries is working to increase virtual resources and services to support faculty and student; see their Virtual Support for Teaching and Research Guide. In addition, they have been working with academic publishers to make additional virtual content openly available. Even though the Penn Libraries buildings remain closed, subject librarians are standing by to support online teaching, research, and learning throughout the rest of the semester.

Career Services

Career Services is committed to serving students remotely. Schedule a phone or video appointment; learn more at their website


Resources and Information for Specific Student Populations

Teaching Assistants

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Online Learning Initiative (OLI) have partnered to provide a guide to teaching remotely. In addition, Penn Libraries’ Virtual Support page provides a range of guides, tutorials, and support services to help with virtual classes.

Students and Postdocs with Children

The Family Center has gathered virtual resources for students and postdocs with children.

International Students

International Student & Scholar Service’s (ISSS) advisors are available by email or virtual advising appointment. ISSS has created a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to COVID-19 and is holding a series of virtual town halls to answer student questions and concerns.

Students Serving as Essential Personnel

As you may know, with the shut-down of research labs, a very few number of researchers have been designated as essential personnel. The Vice Provost for Research has a dedicated webpage for research continuity and guidelines for the safety of those essential personnel. No student should be designated as essential without their consent. If you are designated as essential and feel uncomfortable with that role, please send a note to provost-ed@upenn.edu to let us know and we will help ensure you are replaced in that role. Your safety is our first priority.

Graduating PhD and Research Master’s Students

Recognizing that students and faculty are far-flung, we have instituted special dissertation defense and deposit instructions for Spring 2020.


Virtual Programs and Activities

Language Chats

The Grad Center’s popular language chats are moving online! If you are interested in facilitating or joining a virtual language chat, please fill out this form and we’ll connect you with other students for informal conversation and language practice in your selected language! Learn more and see currently-scheduled chats at  https://gsc.upenn.edu/graduate-life/chats.


Writing Accountability Groups & Partners

Joining a writing accountability group can help you meet your writing goals. Whether you’re working on a dissertation, journal article, or other writing project, forming a group with other students working on writing projects is a great way to help one another make progress and meet deadlines, by providing accountability and encouragement along the way. Check out resources for existing writing groups or fill out our group matching form and we will help connect you with a writing group or partner!


NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program Virtual Information Session

Monday, March 23, 12:00-1:00 PM (EDT); Zoom meeting 
Learn more about the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP), which helps highly motivated graduate-level students grow as the next generation of nuclear security leaders. The one-year, salaried (with benefits) fellowships provide hands-on experience in national security and nonproliferation, professional development and networking opportunities, extensive interaction and collaboration with leading national security technology and policy experts. The program is open to master’s and doctoral students, as well as recent graduates.


Fulbright U.S. Student Program Overview

March 24, 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM; online webinar

Staff at the Institute of International Education (IIE) offer an overview of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the opportunities it provides to study, research or teach abroad. Please register in advance.


ORISE Virtual Outreach Fair

Wednesday, March 25, 12pm - 3:05pm; online
The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is hosting a virtual outreach fair to highlight a variety of paid internships and fellowships within government agencies and national laboratories across the country. Participants will learn more about research, internship, and fellowship opportunities and chat with mentors from government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and more! If you have any questions, or trouble registering, contact ve@orau.org.


Assessing Learning and Providing Feedback Remotely

Wednesday, March 25, 2:00-2:45 PM (EDT); Zoom Meeting (Register for Link)

This workshop explores tools in Canvas that instructors can use to assign and assess student work so students can continue to complete the expectations of the course and reach the instructor’s goals: assignments, quizzes, and discussion boards.  We will also explore how to use these tools to give students feedback on assignments so they can improve later and continue to feel connected to the course. Join us for a 45-minute workshop online, including Q&A. The workshop will be recorded for those that cannot attend.


The Off-Campus Services Virtual Housing Fair

Thursday, March 26, from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm EDT. 

Students returning in the fall will have the opportunity to visit virtual booths and live chat with local landlords and local vendors. See https://upenn.vfairs.com/ for more information.


Running Your Class Remotely: Lecture and Discussion

Friday, March 27; 12:30 – 1:15 PM (EDT); Zoom meeting (Register for link)

This workshop provides a guide to conveying course content and promoting discussion and engagement using online learning tools. Participants in this workshop will learn how to get started with Panopto, a tool for recording lectures, and tools like Zoom and BlueJeans that allow students and faculty to speak together in live sessions. We will also explore discussion boards and how they can be used as an alternative to live online discussions. The 45-minute online workshop will be recorded for those that cannot attend.


Developing a Daily Writing Practice

Wednesday, April 8, 10:00 – 11:00 AM; Webinar (Register for link)

Are you working on a dissertation or lengthy writing project and wish you could develop a healthy daily writing routine that would allow you to make steady progress towards finishing? This webinar will help by identifying common mistakes and sharing strategies to increase your writing productivity without creating unrealistic expectations or additional stress.

Highlighted Fellowships and Opportunities

Wolf Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellowships

Deadline: March 22

The Wolf Humanities Center offers two one-year research fellowships to Penn graduate students in the humanities who are ABD and conducting research related to an annual theme. The 2020-21 theme is Choice. Research fellows receive $2,500 each and are required to attend the Center’s weekly Mellon Research Seminar and to present their work at one of the sessions.  https://wolfhumanities.upenn.edu

Y.H. Park Fellowship

Deadline: April 14

This fellowship funds a Ph.D. or a master’s student in the humanities, social sciences, international management, international studies, or fine arts whose primary research area is Korea and whose dissertation will be on Korea. The Park Fellowship will cover the cost of Reduced PhD Tuition, a 12-month stipend and health insurance. https://www.curf.upenn.edu/content/yh-park-fellowship-korean-studies

Data Incubator Data Science Fellowship

Deadlines: Multiple sessions each year, deadlines vary. 

An advanced 8-week fellowship for PhDs looking to enter industry. Free for admitted Fellows. Participate either in person in New York City, Washington, DC, the San Francisco Bay Area, or online.

To see additional fellowships and award opportunities, visit CURF Resources for Graduate Students and Grad Center Grants and Fellowships webpages.

About the Vice Provost for Education

The Vice Provost for Education oversees the programs and policies that govern teachers and students at Penn. The VPE portfolio includes the Graduate Student Center, the Center for Teaching & Learning, the Family Resource Center, the Center for Undergraduate Research & Fellowships, the Office of Student Conduct, the Online Learning InitiativeCollege Houses & Academic Services, Penn First Plus, and New Undergraduate Student Orientation & Academic Initiatives.