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2021-2026 Strategic Plan Draft

2021-2026 Graduate Studies Strategic Plan: A Draft for Community Review

The Graduate Studies Strategic Planning Task Force has provided a shared the following draft of the Graduate Studies. The plan incorporates the feedback we have received from our stakeholders pertaining to areas of strategic focus, but we're still looking to improve this important guiding document before it's finalized. We strongly encourage all members of our campus community to provide feedback, either via our feedback form or as a participant in one of the many cross-campus community conversations.

How to provide input on the current draft

The Strategic Planning Task Force thanks the all faculty, staff, students, and postdocs who continue to remain actively engaged throughout the planning process. The Task Force will take the month of June to not only review and discuss the input, but also address suggestions and incorporate emerging themes. A final draft of the Graduate Studies Strategic Plan will be shared at the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. If you have any questions about the strategic plan or the the strategic planning process, please email Elizabeth Lambert, Senior Director of External Relations and Strategic Communications, at

Strategic Planning Definitions

Priority:  A broad topics of special interest or concern for Graduate Studies. 
Goal:  A specific area of focus that is aligned with one of the priority pillars.
Activity: A specific action or project that will meet the expectations detailed by the strategic goal. These activities will be attached to timelines and performance indicators.

Priority One: Preparation, Recruitment, and Retention

Goal 1.1. Lead critical conversations about graduate admissions and enrollment and create graduate recruitment and admission plans. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Work collaboratively with programs, schools and colleges, Enrollment Management, DEI, and others to identify goals.
    • Create, communicate, and implement annual graduate recruitment plans.
    • Host admissions and recruitment training for graduate groups programs.
    • Work with SISS to develop communication and recruitment plans for international students.

Goal 1.2. Grow and expand graduate pipeline programs with the aim of closing gaps in academic outcomes for students from historically marginalized groups. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Partner with the UC, CSU and community college system on preparatory programs and recruitment opportunities.
    • Continue to develop and expand UCLEADS, UCDGAP, McNair Scholars Program, and the Envision UC Davis program.
    • Create and resource an effort to develop outreach and  recruitment strategies for Rising Scholars into  graduate programs. 
    • Expand  opportunities to attend graduate or professional school early for prospective and current students, and encourage faculty to cultivate undergraduate interest in graduate or professional school.
    • Establish student financial support practices that promote equity in graduate education.

Goal 1.3. Attract and admit a more diverse pool of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Identify and eliminate unnecessary barriers to entry for diverse students related to eligibility, application and admissions, access and financing, and transitions.
    • Continue to promote the adoption of holistic graduate school admissions processes. 
    • Establish student financial support practices that promote equity in graduate education.
    • Apply holistic review standards to the fellowship awarding process.

Goal 1.4. Directly address student and postdoc basic needs and retention. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Reevaluate and improve our new student and postdoc orientation programming and communications.
    • Ensure that advising and service models are accessible, culturally relevant and support intercultural and global learning. Make sure that new and existing programs, events, resources and services are accessible and inclusive of students and postdoctoral scholars across all UC Davis campuses and research sites. 
    • Improve policies and practices related to accessibility, accommodation, work-life balance, health and wellness, and universal design so that our students and postdocs can thrive and achieve their full potential.
    • Respond to the needs of students with learning challenges, disabilities and mental health concerns. Respond appropriately and with compassion and cultural competence to those experiencing distress, and increase awareness and treatment options across campus.
    • Establish student financial support practices that promote equity in graduate education.
    • Address the challenges associated with the existing payment schedule.

Goal 1.5. Establish the Graduate Center at Historic Walker Hall as the center of interdisciplinary graduate student life and community on the Davis campus. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Develop a grand opening strategy that highlights the resources, services, and spaces in the Graduate Center.
    • Ensure that the space is safe and accessible to all graduate students and postdocs. 
    • Use the space to promote interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration. 
    • Increase the visibility and awareness of disability and mental health services within the Graduate Center at Walker Hall.

Goal 1.6. Assess and address the needs of postdoctoral scholars through the development of resources, programs, and partnerships.

  • Example Activities
  • • Evaluate and improve postdoctoral scholar orientation.
    • Create postdoctoral-scholar specific programs, resources, and communications.
    • Develop new partnerships with the Office of Research, the Postdoctoral Scholar Association, and others to improve understanding about postdoc resources.

Priority Two: Mentoring and Professional/Career Development

Goal 2.1. Establish new mentoring programs focused on advancing effective faculty-student mentorship. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Create a faculty mentor training program to increase mentor skill development, equity and inclusion and promote positive and enriching mentor-mentee relationships.
    • Promote broad mentorship networks to ensure graduate students and postdoctoral scholars seek mentors from a diverse network.
    • Establish Graduate Studies as a leader in faculty-graduate student mentorship and serve as a hub for the dissemination of best practices.

Goal 2.2. Partnering with the graduate programs, develop an expanded portfolio of professional development resources emphasizing a variety of career outcomes to all graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Foster academic culture change with the goals of equally valuing all career choices for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.
    • Work with campus and community partners to identify graduate student internships and jobs.
    • Provide students with opportunities for service learning and community-based learning.
    • Ensure the inclusion of diversity components in professional development offerings.
    • Gather and publish data about graduate career outcomes.

Goal 2.3. Engage the graduate alumni community by creating professional development- and community-focused opportunities, services and programs.

  • Example Activities
  • • Increase the number of alumni  participating as active volunteers, advocates, and board members. Strengthen ongoing relationships with alumni  through improved volunteer engagement.
    • Design a strategy to keep alumni engaged in the years following their graduation.
    • Create mentorship networks that link current students and postdocs to alumni in order to create a strengthened sense of community and a clearer understanding of career pipelines. 
    • Develop a pipeline to prepare alumni, donors and prospective donors to make gifts to key areas of graduate education.

Goal 2.4. In partnership with programs and campus partners, develop new diversity, equity, inclusion components in professional development and mentoring programs. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Include diversity and bias training in faculty mentoring training program.
    • Provide resources on culturally aware mentoring/inclusive mentoring.

Priority Three: Advocacy and Fundraising

Goal 3.1. Create opportunities for graduate students, postdocs, faculty and staff to engage in active dialogue and shared advocacy. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Host regular town hall and open houses for students, postdocs, faculty and staff.
    • Collaborate with the GSA, PSA, CGPA and other student/postdoc groups. 
    • Create mechanisms for our community to provide feedback and request support.

Goal 3.2. Publicly advocate for the needs of graduate students and postdocs, particularly with the challenges related to housing, food security, mental health, disability accommodation, racial inequity, case management and funding. Operationalize and strengthen partnerships that address the needs of our most vulnerable populations.

  • Example Activities
  • • Host regular town halls and open houses for students, postdocs, faculty and staff.
    • Collaborate with the GSA, PSA, CGPA and other student/postdoc groups. 
    • Partner with alumni to expand opportunities for graduate students to work alongside legislators and other community leaders. 
    • Partner with Strategic Communications, Government and Community Relations, and Public Scholarship and Engagement to participate in community-university partnerships, and statewide, regional, and global multi-sector consortiums. 
    • Revive or recreate Graduate Research Advocacy Day.
    • Address the challenges associated with the existing payment schedule.

Goal 3.3. Position UC Davis Graduate Studies as a national leader in the areas of graduate student professional development, faculty-student mentoring, holistic review, and community building. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Write and publish in journals and higher education publications. 
    • Present innovations at regional and national higher education conferences.
    • Partner with Strategic Communications to identify ways to better promote our strengths and differentiators on campus and to the general public. Increase the circulation and saturation of stories in campus, regional, national, and international media
    • Maximize the effectiveness of our internal and external communications in order to advance the Graduate Studies brand and deepen understanding of the division and graduate education.
    • Promote Grad Slam, establishing it as a well-known and popular research communication competition across all the academic disciplines.

Goal 3.4. Raise philanthropic to support the goal of offering competitive, five years of funding for all doctoral students. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Develop a comprehensive fundraising strategy anchored to student support.
    • Share more stories about the recipients and impact of philanthropic fellowships.
    • Create and implement a stewardship plans for individual and corporate donors.

Goal 3.5. Identify and pursue additional sources of revenue that will enable the expansion of professional development, mentoring, diversity, and graduate preparatory programs and resources. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Identify and pursue grants to support the expansion of programs.
    • Expand our donor pipeline.
    • Ensure that key members of the Graduate Studies team are trained on development and fundraising best practices. 
    • Educate staff and faculty and engage them in creating a culture of philanthropy.
    •Improve donor retention through focused donor relations and stewardship strategies.

Priority Four: Organizational Empowerment and Transformation

Goal 4.1. Strengthen Graduate Studies organizational focus on service, inclusivity, wellness, and professional development. 

  • Example Activities

  • • Foster a culture of staff development and retention across Graduate Studies. Ensure that leaders at all levels of the organization are well-trained in both management skills and cultural competency. 
    • Increase assessment and accountability for pools and yields at the administrative and academic department level. Hold deans, department chairs, and administrative leaders accountable for hiring decisions and for how those decisions are coordinated and communicated to candidates. 
    • Diversify Recruitment Advisory Committees (RACs) to ensure diverse perspectives/voices in the assessment of applicants and bringing diversity and inclusion excellence into recruitment and hiring practices.
    • Proactively utilize assessment tools such as exit interviews and turnover metrics to understand and act on the reasons behind employee turnover.

Goal 4.2. Integrate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into all aspects of Graduate Studies and Graduate Education. 

  • Example Activities
  • • In collaboration with campus partners, develop and coordinate anti-racist curricula, programs, events, and policies with the aim of eliminating racial bias in graduate education and training.
    • Provide resources and incentives to support new and existing departmental and program-based multicultural, anti-racist organizations.
    • Diversify Recruitment Advisory Committees (RACs) to ensure diverse perspectives/voices in the assessment of applicants and bringing diversity and inclusion excellence into recruitment and hiring practices.
    • Lead internal staff development efforts that fosters an environment where every person feels responsible for advancing diversity and inclusion excellence.

Goal 4.3. Improve the processes, resources, and channels designed to provide support and guidance to graduate program staff and faculty. 

  • Example Activities

  • • Create and maintain robust faculty and staff development programs for sharing best practices in recruitment, program administration, mentoring, and student support. 
    • Streamline and simplify the current Graduate Studies funding model to make it easier for campus partners to do multi-year financial planning. 
    • Increase understanding about the internal fellowship review process.
    • Provide graduate programs with the data needed to inform decisions and action related to student retention, completion rates, funding time to degree, and career outcomes. 
    • Enhance partnership with the programs and the Office of Research to create resources that assist graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with fellowship applications and grantsmanship.

Goal 4.4. Support campus in its efforts to develop and launch new degree programs. 

  • Example Activities
  • • Partner with BIA and other campus units to propose updates to campus policies and procedures surrounding program proposals. 
    • Facilitate and serve on campus committees to support the creation of self-supporting and online degree programs.
    • Provide new programs with consultation about recruitment, admissions, and financial support best practices. 
    • Advocate for policy changes that promote a more streamlined and efficient program development and review processes. 

Goal 4.5. Lead the development of innovative solutions that improve and advance operating procedures and processes to meet the needs of our stakeholders (students, postdoctoral scholars, program faculty and staff) in a new era of graduate education.  

  • Example Activities
  • • Provide tools that enable remote engagement and improve access to key support areas: academic services and advising, financial, and employment/labor by eliminating limitations imposed by in-person constraints  (e.g. in-person process steps for approving, receiving, signing, verifying etc.), ensuring more equitable support to students in a variety of instructional formats (e.g. hybrid and online).
    • Generate operational insights to identify and address process bottlenecks to improve  and optimize student and business services.
    • Leverage new technology that reduces the administrative workload/burden on faculty and staff in Graduate Studies and graduate programs, while still preserving academic oversight.