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Graduate Students: Message from the Dean

Update from the Graduate School

April 28, 2020 | Dean Cheryl L. Addy

To all UofSC Graduate Students:

 While we have not seen many of you in weeks, I hope you are approaching the end of the spring semester in good health and with academic success. 

 Since I last communicated with you, the university has evolved from emergency response mode to future planning mode.  In virtually every meeting, President Caslen reminds us that every decision is being made in the context of four principles:  the health, safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff; our institutional responsibility to mitigate the spread of the virus throughout the campus and indirectly throughout the Columbia community; our commitment to academic and research excellence; and the integrity and sustainability of the university.  The president has established the Future Planning Group with seven teams to address the complex and interrelated details of re-opening campus in the context of these principles.   Both faculty and students are represented on these teams, including your Graduate Student Association Officers representing graduate students. The seven teams are:

  • public health/medicine (modeling campus scenarios for virus transmission, evidence-based recommendations for prevention, mitigation, and treatment);
  • admissions/enrollment (student recruitment and retention);
  • academics and research (instructional delivery for fall, bringing research back to full productivity);
  • finance (budgetary implications of all scenarios);
  • risk management/public safety (recommendations for how campus is re-opened in context of campus activities);
  • communications; and
  • athletics.

As an aside, hopefully you have seen the announcements, but congratulations to the 2020-2021 officers for the Graduate Student Associate:  Maggie Carson, president; Maxwell Akonde, vice president; Christopher Eddy, treasurer; and Sudipta Saha, Graduate Council representative.  I look forward to working with the new GSA leadership, and I am confident they will represent you well.

 The entire Future Planning Group effort is about re-opening and re-populating campus, but I can share some information about where we are in the process.  Currently, we are operating under the governor’s executive order that all non-essential employees for every state agency work remotely.  We cannot return to campus at any broad level until this order has been repealed.  I assure you that in the discussions in which I have participated, bringing graduate students back to campus has been considered in parallel to bringing faculty and staff back to campus.  Details are in development, but we anticipate that this process of re-opening campus will start this summer, hopefully by June 1.  All courses for summer will be online, but we are exploring a variety of scenarios for fall to deliver a substantial proportion of instruction on campus.  The president’s target is to make a decision about fall no later than June 15 but hopefully sooner. 

 An unfortunate consequence of the pandemic has been the rise of “Zoombombing”.  On the evening of Friday, April 24th, the Association of African American Students (AAAS) gathered for a virtual cookout to celebrate the end of the spring semester. That event was disrupted by hackers who attacked them with racist slurs and images, turning what should have been a celebratory event into a dreadful nightmare.  Our campus community has reacted quickly to condemn this attack and to take steps to prevent it from happening again.  In particular, I refer you to statement of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion including President Caslen’s response at:
I also remind you of values expressed in our Carolinian Creed: 

As a Carolinian ...

I will practice personal and academic integrity;

I will respect the dignity of all persons;

I will respect the rights and property of others;

I will discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas and opinions;

I will demonstrate concern for others, their feelings, and their need for the conditions which support their work and development.

The Carolinian Creed defines who we are, not the hateful comments and images of Friday’s incident.

 I have heard from many of you that funding for summer and fall is a critical concern.  I assure you that deans, program directors and your faculty are acutely aware of the need, and they are as anxious to resume full activities as you are.  In addition to research, we anticipate there may be increased need for graduate student instructional support (GTA and GIA positions) for this transition with blended instruction.  If you have questions about the status of either a continuing or new graduate assistantship, I encourage you to reach out to your academic program director or advisor/mentor. In addition, since most of you have heard there is a hiring freeze for the university, the last communication I saw indicates that graduate assistantships are exempt.  For other questions related to financial aid, see  There is a chatbot there (“Ask Cocky”) to submit any questions you cannot resolve on the Financial Aid website.

We know you are receiving a lot of email messages, and we want to make it easy for you to get information you need. You can access all recent memos and announcements on the Graduate School website.

 As we progress from the spring semester into summer and fall, I know you still have many outstanding questions about courses, academic progression, funding, and the health of your family and friends.  Many virtual resources are already available, e.g., Student Health Services, Center for Teaching Excellence.  If you have particular technology needs, please talk to your advisor or one of your instructors; the university has mechanisms to help.  There is also an emergency relief for students (see  for additional information). 

Unless you are directed elsewhere for a particular topic, your advisor or graduate director should be your best point of contact for most of your questions.  You are also welcome to contact the Graduate School at with general university questions or to contact me directly.

Some of you are completing your studies at the University of South Carolina.  I celebrate your achievements.  You are leaving us with a solid foundation for the next step in your career, and I sincerely hope that you feel that you are well prepared as you make your personal impact on our community.

 For those of you returning this summer and fall, I look forward to seeing you again soon.  Please let me know how the Graduate School can best support and enhance your educational experience here.


Forever to thee,


Cheryl L. Addy, PhD
Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School | 803-777-2808 | 


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