Graduate School dean Carlson: letter to graduate and professional students

Author: Andy Fuller

Note: Dated communications are archived here for reference, but may not reflect the most up-to-date information available.

Dear Graduate and Professional Students,

It has been a sad and stressful week. On behalf of myself and the deans of the graduate professional schools, I write to say how sorry we are that the spring semester has unfolded in this manner, and to thank you for your understanding, patience, flexibility, and creativity as the rhythm of just about every facet of our lives has been up-ended, and as we all try to adjust to a new set of routines. We understand how you may be feeling. The need to stay physically distant may bring on feelings of isolation. The pressures to move instruction online may be compounded for those of you who are not only students, but also teaching assistants or instructors of record. The contingency planning that is taking place with respect to research is important because we are trying our best to support you in your pursuit of meaningful work and progress on your degree. But understandably, this planning may bring too anxiety and countless questions related to deadlines, progress on research, funding, access to on-campus resources and so on.

Please know that we have heard these questions, and are working in coordination with teams across the university to understand the issues, craft a way forward that is guided by the principles of compassion and empathy, and get you the answers.

Continue to reach out to us with your questions so that we can make sure that we are addressing the needs of all. We are here to help, and no question is too small. There is a centralized email for non-urgent questions; for urgent questions, don’t hesitate to contact me: or the relevant deans in the professional schools. We are also working closely with the directors of graduate studies and the department chairs – they too are resources for you.

Please recognize that this is a dynamic and fast-changing situation. Here is where we stand now, as of end of day, 3/18/2020:

  • As per the letter from Fr. John earlier today, instruction will move online for the remainder of the spring semester.
  • Fischer Grad Residences remain open.
  • Research continues, with open access to on-campus facilities, including labs and the library. However, if your research allows you to be off- campus, you should work remotely. If you need to be on-campus to conduct your research, please know that the lab environment should implement social-distancing measures to ensure safety. Please speak with your faculty mentor, director of graduate studies, dean or me, to ensure that if you come in to work, that the environment is safe for you.
  • Faculty are being asked to develop research contingency plans in case access to campus is restricted. Please think about how a limited access scenario would impact your research.
  • We are currently operating on existing deadlines with respect to dissertation and thesis defenses. If you foresee a challenge related to meeting these deadlines due to the upheaval caused by the corona virus, please reach out to Associate Dean Nyree McDonald at: so that we can work out a solution.
  • With respect to funding, stipends continue as currently provided.
  • With respect to health and medical questions, please consult the website for guidance on various scenarios. Students should contact University Health Services (574-631-7497) by phone. Postdoctoral scholars or student dependents should contact the Notre Dame Wellness Center (574-634-9355).

In the days and weeks ahead, please continue to reach out to friends, family, and the many on-campus offices that are here for you.

Please use technology (e.g., phone, email) as a first point of contact with student services offices to ensure that you reach them quickly.

I’ll end with how I began. We recognize the stress and uncertainty caused by these rapid changes. Please know that we remain committed to your success, both at Notre Dame and beyond. Please reach out to us and let us know in particular what you are struggling with, and how we can help. Please share too ideas that have worked for you that we can share broadly. And please keep the website bookmarked, and consult it habitually. This continues to be the most recent source of information. Know that I will reach out to you again with updates as needed. Until then, please practice social-distancing so that we can do our part to flatten the curve, and keep washing your hands and refrain from touching your faces.