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Spokesperson's Report—3 October 2017

Committee of the Council

Clifford Ando

Your committee met on 3 October 2017 in the Library of the Quadrangle Club. In attendance were
President Robert Zimmer (presiding); Provost Daniel Diermeier; Carol Wilinski, Secretary of the
Faculties; and your committee members Erin Adams, Clifford Ando, Will Howell, John Kelly,
Randy Picker and Ken Warren. Guests attending were: Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in
the University; Beth Niestat, Executive Director, UChicagoGRAD, Administration and Policy;
Ted Stamatakos, Senior Associate General Counsel; Kenneth Polonsky, Executive Vice President
for Biology and Medicine and President of the University of Chicago Health System and Dean,
III. Graduate Student Unionization

Mr. Stamatakos commenced with an historical narrative, discussing the graduate student
unionization effort, its outside affiliates and the filing of the petition with the local National Labor
Relations Board (NLRB), as well as the University's response, which was to seek a hearing. Salient
issues are not simply the status of graduate students as employees, but also the voting method and
the definition of the voting body. The regional NLRB allowed an election, which is set for 17-18
October, 9am to 9pm, and its outcome is to be determined by majority vote. In the meantime, the
University has asked for a review from the national board, and also a stay of the election. Other
private universities where unionization efforts are underway have also asked, or are expected to
ask, for review by the national board.

At Chicago, the bargaining unit for the purposes of the election includes graduate students
functioning as teaching assistants or research assistants in PSD, BSD, HD, SSD, SSA and Divinity,
from fall '16 to fall '17, and includes about 2500 students.

Discussion concentrated on the problems of education and communication between interested

parties on campus, with the recognition by numerous parties that communication from the
administration is distrusted as agenda-driven. Some effort is being made to redress this via fora
where students on many sides are encouraged to speak. The University's strategy of appeal to the
National Board was questioned, which prompted a review of the history of the NLRB's posture
toward graduate students at private universities since 1970.



October 31, 2017


The Council of the University Senate met at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, in Stuart
105. Present were Erin Adams, Daniel Adelman, Clifford Ando, Raymond Ball, Lisa Bernstein,
Eric Beyer, Robert Bird, Elisabeth Clemens, Whitney Cox, Daniel Diermeier, Eileen Dolan, Fred
Donner, Michael Foote, Elaine Hadley, Denis Hirschfeldt, William Howell, Elbert Huang, Kristen
Jacobson, Adrian Johns, John Kelly, Robert Kendrick, Richard Kron, Gabriel Lear, Stacy Lindau,
Daniel Margoliash, Jeanne Marsh, Richard Neer, Emily Lynn Osborn, Randal Picker, Harold
Pollack, Eugene Raikhel, Marsha Rosner, Haun Saussy, Holly Shissler, Janos Simon, anne
Sperling, Kenneth Warren, George Wu, Robert Zimmer, presiding, and Carol Wilinski, the
Secretary of the Faculties. Also present, as invited guests, were David Nirenberg, Executive Vice
Provost; Kenneth Polonsky, Executive Vice President of the University for Biology and Medicine
and President of the University of Chicago Health System; Darren Reisberg, Vice President for
Strategic Initiatives and Deputy Provost; Anne W. Robertson, Dean, Humanities Division; David
Schloen, Professor, Oriental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and
Civilizations; and Theodore Stamatakos, Senior Associate General Counsel.
The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17

Update – Unionization

Mr. Diermeier began by sharing the results of the recent election regarding graduate student
unionization. There had been 1,103 votes in favor of unionization, 479 against it, and 149
challenged votes. According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the turnout was
70.5%. He then noted that he had placed this topic on this meeting’s agenda for a couple of
reasons. He shared his sense that regardless of one’s views on the specific issue of graduate
student unionization, this was an extremely troubling outcome. He stated that the University is an

The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17
institution that prides itself on its commitment to graduate education, and yet over 1,100 students
had, through this vote, registered their unhappiness and feelings of being disrespected, and were
looking for a third party to represent their specific interests. He again noted that he was deeply
troubled by this development. He acknowledged that there were different points of view
regarding this matter, and observed that this is a moment that requires serious reflection on the
part of the faculty. He added that during the campaign prior to the election, such reflection had
not taken place, and arguably could not have occurred because of the restrictions on what could
and could not be said during that time. He strongly recommended that such reflection begin to
take place now, among faculty and members of the University community.

Mr. Diermeier then reported that he had received numerous emails, from all over the country, in
support of graduate student unionization, many of which contained identical text. Quite a few of
these messages had been sent by faculty colleagues. He indicated that these messages had
contained two arguments. The first was that the decision in a recent Columbia University case
had clearly established the right to unionize, and this should be respected. The second argument
called for the graduate students’ vote to be respected, regardless of the outcome.

To the first argument, Mr. Diermeier pointed out that the legal process is complicated, and both
unions and universities have used every particular venue available in order to be successful. He
observed that over the years, the outcome of the legal process has shifted from time to time, and
he anticipated that it would continue to do so. He then shared his personal opinion that NLRB
decision-making largely follows partisan lines, and it was possible to predict outcomes with some
certainty, depending upon the partisan affiliations of its members.

Regarding the second argument, Mr. Diermeier noted that the letters had argued that since
graduate students work, they are therefore workers. He added that the letters he had received had
described them as intellectual workers who have the right to organize and to have their vote
respected. He felt that on the surface, this was a plausible argument, as students work hard, teach
classes, and conduct research. However, he pointed out that once students are identified as
workers, they are then subject to a variety of federal labor laws related to collective bargaining.
He observed that even though this matter might seem obvious and clear at first, there are a
number of consequences can result. He felt it was important to have clarity around the nature of
these consequences and associated risks, as well as one’s point of view about them, and he
reiterated that this discussion had not yet occurred in any serious way.

Mr. Diermeier then identified a couple of concerns. First, under unionization, all aspects of
graduate student working conditions could be subject to review and negotiation, including the
amount and length of stipends, student compensation, and working hours in laboratories.
Ultimately these aspects would be mandated across the entire bargaining unit. He added that the
full range of considerations was not yet known, because the University would now be subject to
federal law, which, unlike state law, has not identified certain specific grievable areas. He
pointed out that this creates a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Next, when looking at other
examples such as the University of Michigan, New York University, and the University of
California, Berkeley, aspects of research have typically not been part of their union agreements,
and in fact these have been explicitly excluded. Therefore, this constitutes unknown territory that
has not yet been navigated.

The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17
Mr. Diermeier then listed several issues. First, the University’s Ph.D. programs are extremely
different, and determined by disciplinary concerns. There is variance within and across
Divisions in terms of funding and how work gets done. For example, the Ph.D. program in
Anthropology is very different from that in Economics, for very good reasons. He noted that the
average time to degree for Ph.D. students in the Chemistry Department is 5.6 years, and they are
largely funded by research grants. In the Humanities Division, the average time to degree is 8.8
years, and students are funded by the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) and divisional resources. He
pointed out that the GAI mechanism could now be subject to negotiations with the union. He also
indicated that if certain levels or time periods of funding were mandated across different entities,
this could have consequences. He then provided an example from last year, regarding a federal
requirement to increase compensation levels, which had applied to postdoctoral fellows as well.
The University took steps to comply, and then a federal judge, at the eleventh hour, issued an
injunction that reversed the requirement. However, the University had already communicated to
everyone that compensation levels would increase. He recalled that he had received an angry
letter signed by 48 faculty members, advocating for reversing the decision and reverting to the
original, lower, salary levels, because otherwise this would negatively impact the available
resources necessary to conduct work in laboratory settings. He noted that while people could
have different points of view about this matter, an implementation of uniform compensation
aspects will have consequences on the operations of departments and Ph.D. programs.

Next, Mr. Diermeier spoke of the matter of laboratory hours, indicating that there has been no
prior experience regarding their regulation. He spoke of the huge importance, within the
Biological and Physical Sciences Divisions and the Psychology Department, among others, of
having students engaged in ongoing experiments that feature hands-on learning. He cited
examples such as student research activities involving the European Organization for Nuclear
Research (CERN), the South Pole Telescope, and Argonne National Laboratory, and expressed
uncertainty as to how these might be affected. While he acknowledged the possibility that such
details could be negotiated, he was not confident about potential outcomes. He referenced the
University’s experience, over the past two years, with negotiations involving the Service
Employees International Union (SEIU), regarding other academic appointees (OAAs). He
mentioned that, to date, the biggest sticking point had centered around the lecturers’ desire to be
called “faculty”. He pointed out that this was a matter that would need to be discussed within the
Council, and could require statutory revisions. He spoke of the difficulty associated with trying to
predict the elements of the collective bargaining negotiations involving the graduate student
union, and anticipated that this could be a lengthy process. He also emphasized that during the
time when contract negotiations are ongoing, it would be necessary to maintain the status quo
regarding funding levels, funding structures, and so forth. Otherwise, this may result in the filing
of unfair labor practice complaints.

In concluding his remarks, Mr. Diermeier reiterated the importance of giving serious thought to
this matter and engaging in candid discussion. He also spoke of the number of complaints that
graduate students had shared with representatives of UChicagoGRAD and, informally, the
Provost’s Office. These complaints have dealt with issues such as stipend levels, benefits, child
care, and housing. However, the largest number had concerned the experience of bad working
conditions in the laboratories, neglect by supervisors, and the absence of proper classroom
training. He described these as being serious issues and problems, and observed that these
matters would not be easily addressed in a collective bargaining context. He also underscored

The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17
that it was essential to attend to them. He again referenced the existence of a population of
unhappy graduate students, and expressed his concern that the collective bargaining process will
not fix these issues, and could also create a series of unintended consequences. While again
noting the existence of different points of view regarding these matters, he emphasized the
importance of addressing and fixing these problems.

Mr. Nirenberg echoed Mr. Diermeier’s sentiments, and concurred that many of these problems
were related to the faculty’s fulfillment of its functions as mentors, teachers of teachers, and
advisers. He posed the question as to why some believe that it would be helpful to hand over the
responsibility for adjudicating these problems to a third party whose values are quite different
from those of the University. He noted that graduate students were making strong points
regarding these matters, and stated his view that it was the responsibility of the University and its
faculty to fix them.

Mr. Stamatakos provided some additional context regarding the legal framework. He explained
that the NLRB had been in existence since 1935, and it has governed federal labor policy between
labor unions and private employers. Typically, public employers, including state universities, are
governed by state law, and those statutes can be quite prescriptive about what can be negotiated.
Throughout its 82-year history, the NLRB has recognized graduate students as workers for only
four of those years, between 2001-04. Prior to that, the rule of law was that the relationship
between graduate assistants and their institutions was primarily intellectual and academic, and not
predominantly an economic one. In the fall of 2016, the rule of law in place during 2001-04 was
revived, and the NLRB now recognizes graduate students, and graduate assistants in particular, as
workers. He concurred with Mr. Diermeier that over time, the NLRB, which is supposed to be an
independent federal agency, has become an increasingly partisan entity. Its members are
appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and serve staggered five-year terms, so
there is not an exact clean break that accompanies every change in the White House. He
commented that there has been increasing polarization within the NLRB over the past 20 years,
and when the majority of its members have been Democratic appointees, the law has typically
been interpreted in a way that favors worker rights. When the majority are Republican
appointees, the opposite has been the case, and the NLRB has tended to be more pro-management
in its interpretation of the law. He mentioned that the NLRB now has a full membership, five
members, for the first time in eight years, and a Republican majority for the first time in seven

Mr. Stamatakos also mentioned that the University, as well as Yale, Columbia, and Harvard
Universities and Boston College, have requests for review pending before the NLRB. He
explained that all of these institutions have raised this core fundamental issue, and the NLRB has
not acted on it or agreed to take it up. As a result, the situation is in flux. However, the current
rule of law is that graduate students have a right to take the type of action that they pursued at the

Mr. Diermeier anticipated that this was not going to be the final discussion of this matter within
the Council. With that, he solicited comments, questions, and concerns from those assembled.

Ms. Hadley expressed understanding of the issue of flux in relation to the NLRB being partisan,
but also noted that this was the current political reality in all parts of the federal and state

The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17
governments. She did not feel that this was a reason to take one position or the other. Regarding
the unhappiness of the University’s graduate students, she found it a little odd as to how this was
being framed as a recent discovery following the unionization vote. It was her view that the
central administration’s public position had exacerbated this unhappiness. She indicated that she
was aware of at least 30 students who, in her conversations with them, had initially been very
ambivalent about unionization, for some of the reasons laid out by Mr. Diermeier. However, they
were so taken aback by the administration’s hardline positions that they had reversed their
stances. While she applauded the attention that was now being given to the need for addressing
these problems, it seemed to her that this language was now being adopted because of the vote,
not independent of it. For her, students’ efforts to organize into a union and group together as a
single voice have been successful in drawing attention to some of these issues. In that regard, she
considered the unionization process to have been an effective one.

Ms. Hadley also understood the force of the argument about the distinction between state and
federal law, but wished to counsel her colleagues to remember that anything can change. She
noted that while change could be alarming, there was no particular reason to think that things
were going to go wrong. She raised the possibility that as a result of their unionization, students
may be given better terms of employment, child care, and treatment by their mentors than they
currently have. She reiterated that there was nothing intrinsic to what was being described that
was inevitably going to go bad. Rather, this would be change, and nothing else.

Mr. Nirenberg took Ms. Hadley’s point, but did not agree that there was a sudden discovery that
graduate students are unhappy. He noted that when he was Dean of the Social Sciences Division
(SSD), he had spent a huge amount of time working to improve the conditions of graduate
students. He thought that the administration, from the moment Mr. Zimmer became President,
has invested much more heavily in graduate students than had ever occurred previously. He
added that UChicagoGRAD has been working assiduously to improve graduate student working
conditions, and his biggest joy is working on this. He did, however, agree that the conditions
under which the unionization debate had taken place were very polarizing, although he did not
think that these were conditions of the University’s choosing. Rather, they were dictated largely
by the avenues available through the NLRB system. He expressed his view that throughout this
process, the faculty have been very respectful towards graduate students, and there has been no
use of dehumanizing or disrespectful language. He also added that he has not always felt
similarly respected in return. He thought that this was an unfortunately adversarial process, one
that was not of the University’s choosing, and he did not feel that it in any way symbolized a lack
of attention to graduate students in the past, or suddenly “gaining religion” as a result of the
unionization vote.

As to the question, “why worry?”, Mr. Nirenberg thought that this was an appropriate response
given that there is no knowledge of any parallel cases that can provide guidance. He pointed out
that there is no other university that will have this kind of collective bargaining unit, and there has
never been a peer institution in this situation. The University will be, and look, very different
from its peers. While he indicated that this was not necessarily bad, he believed it was prudent to
be concerned. He suggested that that one should not be oblivious to the fact that change can also
bring significant risks, and he noted that the University was trying to be conscious of those risks.

Ms. Hadley replied that she did not wish to be on record as suggesting that initiatives such as

The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17
UChicagoGRAD and the GAI were bad. However, she wished to suggest that perhaps the
University now has the potential to do a better job of tapping into the particular types of issues
that graduate students are having.

Ms. Adams noted that she had dwelled on this matter for a long time, and expressed her anger at
how this process has unfolded. From her point of view, the administration has taken a position
that it would naturally take, and she commented on the role of Graduate Students United (GSU) in
polarizing this issue. She observed that GSU’s approach, framed in “us against them” terms, had
been very effective for its purposes. She felt that the faculty had been mostly left out of this
process, and it was “students against the administration.” She also thought that GSU had done a
good job of casting the administration as being “Trumpian”, and it had capitalized on a sentiment
of frustration stemming from national politics that is present not only among students, but also the
faculty. Speaking as a principal investigator for the myCHOICE program within the Biological
Sciences Division (BSD), which was initiated three years ago, she affirmed that she and her
colleagues, especially Vicky Prince, BSD’s Dean for Graduate Education, were very concerned
about their graduate students. She mentioned that she, Ms. Prince, and the other myCHOICE
principal investigators had spent countless hours of their personal time developing the
myCHOICE program, to make sure that their students had a future, regardless of whether or not
they wished to pursue an academic route. She added that the majority of BSD students whom she
had spoken with had indicated that they were not at all unhappy with the way that they were being
treated, or the work that they were doing. However, they had fallen into the polarization that
GSU promoted, causing them to believe that they needed to support students in other areas of the
University who were feeling mistreated. She again conveyed her deep frustration about the way
the process was going.

Ms. Adams then stated that she supports her graduate students from National Institutes of Health
(NIH) grant funds that she herself works to secure. While she agreed that it would be desirable to
pay graduate students an infinite amount of money, she pointed out that there is, unfortunately, a
limited amount of funding that comes into the laboratory. She felt that this point was not well
understood by others, who likely believe that the administration is providing the funding for those
students. She stated that ultimately, union negotiations over higher salaries could have the effect
of penalizing her research program. She felt that there was little appreciation of the basic
economics of the situation, and in the end, this will fall to the faculty to address. She
acknowledged that the situation may be different in the other Divisions, and that she could not
speak to those circumstances. However, with regard to BSD, she believed that the majority of its
students did not wish to be a part of the union, and yet they were folded into it, even though they
objected against it. She again conveyed her anger about this process, as well as GSU’s role in
polarizing the dialogue.

Mr. Hirschfeldt spoke of the pending appeal of the NLRB Regional Director’s decision in this
case. Assuming that this decision is upheld in this case, as has happened in a recent matter
involving Washington University, he asked whether the administration would then, at that point,
commit to begin bargaining with GSU.

Mr. Stamatakos stated that if there were no legal avenues available at that point, which he did not
believe would be the case, then the University would have no choice but to recognize the union
and negotiate with it. He noted that one avenue, the one currently being pursued, involves

The Council of the Senate, 10.31.17
seeking a review of the Regional Director’s direction of election. Another avenue is the refusal to
bargain, which would trigger the unfair labor practice mechanism, and lead to a resolution in a
federal court of appeals. He added that some employers have pursued the latter avenue. He did
not have knowledge as to what the University might do, should such a situation arise.

Mr. Hirschfeldt then inquired as to whether the University would commit to not pursuing that
route. Mr. Diermeier replied that this was unknown, pointing out that the election had only
recently taken place. He reiterated his worries about this situation, not only with regard to the
polarizing atmosphere and debate, but also the potential impacts on the research enterprise and the
standing of the University’s Ph.D. programs. He voiced his desire for a debate and discussion of
these concerns, rather than making commitments at this point, and noted that this dialogue would
continue in the near future.

Mr. Zimmer suggested that in terms of scheduling, it may be of value to work out a mechanism
that allows for sufficient time to allow for a fuller discussion, to allow everyone to express their
views. He noted that today’s Council meeting had a very full agenda, and out of respect for
everyone’s time, additional discussion of this matter should be scheduled for a later date.


Spokesperson's Report—14 November 2017
Committee of the Council
Clifford Ando

The committee met on 14 November 2017 in the Library of the Quadrangle Club. In attendance
were Provost Daniel Diermeier (presiding); Carol Wilinski, Secretary of the Faculties; and
committee members Erin Adams, Clifford Ando, Will Howell, and Randy Picker. Guests
attending were: Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian; David Nirenberg,
Executive Vice Provost; and Ted Stamatakos, Senior Associate General Counsel.

3. Continuation of Discussion – Graduate Student Unionization (Mr. Nirenberg; Mr.


Provost Diermeier affirmed the need, after the Council meeting of 31 October 2017, for ongoing
faculty discussion. The unionization vote by the graduate students revealed a major set of
challenges in graduate education, some universal, some local to particular units. He noted that
some concern practicalities such as housing and fellowships, while others concern the structures
of education, standards in advising, and the like.

The extensive conversation focused on the latter set of issues. The nature of advising and
collaboration as a relationship of mentoring that is both individual and often specific to disciplines
was stressed. There was reflection on the context of the movement toward unionization both
nationally and locally. Particular attention was given to the job market; the underfunding of public
universities; the many factors that shape the size of graduate programs; the question of optimal
size of graduate cohorts; and discrepant roles that graduate students fulfill in the different divisions
and departments.

4. Communications to the Spokesperson

The spokesperson received two communications from faculty. Denis Hirschfeldt requested the
circulation of a communication from graduate students, as a contribution to the Council's
deliberation on graduate student unionization. The communication from Mr. Hirschfeldt has been
circulated with the agenda for the Council's meeting on 28 November 2017, in preparation for that



November 28, 2017


The Council of the University Senate met at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, in Stuart
105. Present were Erin Adams, Clifford Ando, Robert Bird, Elisabeth Clemens, Whitney Cox,
Daniel Diermeier, presiding, Eileen Dolan, Fred Donner, Greg Engel, Michael Foote, Elizabeth
Grove, Elaine Hadley, Elbert Huang, Kristen Jacobson, Adrian Johns, Robert Keenan, John Kelly,
Robert Kendrick, Michael Kremer, Richard Kron, Randall Kroszner, Gabriel Lear, Stacy Lindau,
Shan Lu, Daniel Margoliash, Richard Neer, Emily Lynn Osborn, Randal Picker, Harold Pollack,
Haun Saussy, Abbie Smith, George Wu, and Carol Wilinski, the Secretary of the Faculties. Also
present, as invited guests, were Edward W. (Rocky) Kolb, Dean, Physical Sciences Division;
Beth Niestat, Executive Director, UChicagoGRAD Administration and Policy; Alexander
Razborov, Professor, Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science; Darren Reisberg, Vice
President for Strategic Initiatives and Deputy Provost; Anne W. Robertson, Dean, Humanities
Division; David Schloen, Professor, Oriental Institute and the Department of Near Eastern
Languages and Civilizations; and Theodore Stamatakos, Senior Associate General Counsel.
The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17

Continuation of Discussion – Unionization

Mr. Diermeier mentioned that David Nirenberg, Executive Vice Provost, was traveling, and
therefore unable to attend today’s meeting. He then noted the presence of Ms. Niestat and Mr.
Stamatakos, and indicated that they were available to answer questions.

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17

First, Mr. Diermeier mentioned that he had been meeting with various groups of faculty regarding
this issue, including the Music Department, the Divinity School, and the Biological Sciences
Division (BSD). He highlighted the importance of continuing to engage in such discussions
among the faculty, adding that he found them to be extremely useful. He also remarked that they
were characterized by very serious engagement. He then summarized several concerns that had
emerged from these conversations. He also observed that many people hold very strong opinions
either in favor of or against unionization, independent of what is happening at the University, and
he expressed his understanding and respect for those positions. His hope was that today’s
conversation would lead to a greater understanding of the complexities of this matter.

Mr. Diermeier then highlighted that the University’s Ph.D. programs have been very extremely
carefully designed in conjunction with the specific disciplinary contexts in which they operate, at
the level of minute details regarding funding, structure, mentoring, the role of teaching, and the
like. In addition, differences in such details exist both across and within academic units. He
stated his concern that these distinctions and subtleties will be extremely difficult to deal with in
the context of union negotiations. He mentioned that while some faculty members believe that
everything will work out satisfactorily, there are no precedents to that effect, particularly with
regard to the inclusion of the research context as part of the negotiations, which has not been a
part of other union contracts. In addition, the legal precedent that would be applied in this
particular instance has been developed outside of the University. He reiterated that there was a
tremendous amount of uncertainty around this. He also articulated his concerns regarding the
unhappiness and discontent felt by the University’s Ph.D. students. He explained that this has
many sources, some of which relate to the responsibilities of the University’s central
administration, such as funding levels, benefits, and the cost of living in Hyde Park, while others
pertain to the climate and context within particular departments and divisions, such as working
conditions in laboratories, mentorship, and preparation for teaching. He expressed his worry
regarding the consequences for the integrity, health, and continued eminence of the university’s
Ph.D. programs.

Mr. Foote asked Mr. Stamatakos to clarify the concern that arises from the heterogeneous ways in
which students work and are supported, adding that outside of academia, many unions represent a
variety of workers who hold different kinds of jobs, and this does not lead to problems.

For the sake of efficiency, Mr. Stamatakos responded in the context of research assistants in the
sciences. He highlighted the difficulty in distinguishing the conduct of research from the training
component, where that activity is generating data for a doctoral student’s own dissertation, while
simultaneously advancing a faculty member’s research agenda. He posed the question as to how
to go about looking at that spectrum of activities, and distinguishing between work and
educational activities. He described this as being a hybrid arrangement, and noted that this did
not exist in other contexts. He added that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has not
had the opportunity, over the course of its 85-year existence, to address this set of issues, adding
that it is more accustomed to the industrial setting, and activities that can be more easily defined.
Therefore, there is no relevant NLRB guidance upon which to draw. With regard to teaching
assistants, he recalled that during the negotiations involving the New York University (NYU)
contract, this issue was addressed in the bargaining context by the setting of an hourly rate for
contact hours.

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17

Ms. Hadley observed that most people in private industry receive training for their jobs, as do
graduate students, and they are compensated for it. She added that she did not find this, in and of
itself, to be alarming in the context of the upcoming negotiations, and she felt it was typical for
people to be trained at the same time that they are being paid. Mr. Stamatakos pointed out that
on-the-job training is specific to a particular job. However, he understood what takes place in the
research setting as being more complicated than this, as it involves training people to acquire a set
of skills that will enable them to become independent researchers and scholars, not to perform a
particular job.

Mr. Kremer referenced the October 2017 Minutes, adding that he had not been present at that
meeting. He mentioned that at the end of that meeting, there had been discussion of the
possibility that the administration would refuse to bargain with the union, after which Mr.
Hirschfeldt had asked Mr. Diermeier whether the University would commit to not pursuing that
route. He noted that Mr. Diermeier’s response was that this was unknown. He then commented
that if there is concern about graduate student morale, he could not think of something that would
be worse than having the University refuse to bargain with a legally certified union. His view was
that this would affect not only those students who had voted in favor of the union, but also those
who had voted against it, and the graduate student body collectively. He very strongly urged the
administration to think about the effects on the graduate student body of such a refusal to bargain
with a legally certified union, should the situation reach that point.

Mr. Diermeier recalled that there had been a great deal of discussion about this at the October
2017 meeting. He pointed out that there were two dimensions to this issue, namely the specifics
of the legal process, and the concerns about graduate student morale and discontent, and stated
that it was essential to address the latter. He indicated that there were different ways of doing so,
and expressed the desire to delve deeper into the reasons for this situation, as this was a source of
great worry to him. He also conveyed his concern that addressing this through a collective
bargaining situation would lead to other considerations of a legal nature that would also need to
be dealt with, particularly in relation to laboratory working conditions in the sciences. He was
extremely concerned as to whether it would be possible to maintain the individual nature of the
University’s existing Ph.D. programs, in the face of regulatory constraints associated with that
process. Regardless of the course of action taken by the University, he believed it was necessary
to deal with the issues that are being experienced by a large segment of its Ph.D. students, who
feel dispirited, unhappy, and disrespected, and who do not see themselves as fully part of the
University community.

Mr. Diermeier then asked Mr. Stamatakos to provide a brief overview of the process. Mr.
Stamatakos mentioned that the NLRB has five members who serve staggered five-year terms, and
there is currently a three-member Republican majority. He noted that the term of its Chair, who is
a Republican, ends in mid-December 2017. As a result, he felt that if the NLRB was going to
issue decisions on matters of importance to the current Republican majority, it would likely do so
prior to the expiration of the Chair’s term. After that point, the NLRB will be evenly split
between Democratic and Republican appointees, and little is likely to happen until a new
Republican presidential appointee is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He reported that the
University’s request for review is still pending, and that the NLRB had not yet acted on it. Other
institutions with pending requests for review include Yale, Columbia, and Harvard Universities

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17
and Boston College. He added that other institutions, such as American, Brandeis, and Tufts
Universities and the New School, have taken different paths and are negotiating contracts. While
he indicated that he could not accurately predict what was going to happen regarding the pending
requests for review, one possibility was that the NLRB would grant one of the requests for
review, but not make a substantive decision. Another possibility is that the NLRB could deny the
University’s request for review, which he felt was unlikely. A final possibility is that the NLRB
would take no action, perhaps for an extended period of time.

Mr. Diermeier added that the University filed its request for review three months ago, prior to the
appointment of the new members of the NLRB, in order to clarify key points. He observed that
the legal uncertainties it is currently facing will be exacerbated if there are additional delays as a
result of a leadership transition within the NLRB.

Mr. Engel asked about the status of one of the NLRB members, Marvin Kaplan, who is a
Republican appointee of President Trump, and who has a possible conflict of interest in the case
involving Columbia University. Mr. Stamatakos explained that Mr. Kaplan has disclosed a
conflict of interest involving his wife, who is affiliated with Columbia’s medical center, and has
since recused himself from any decisions involving Columbia. Organized labor has now asked
Mr. Kaplan to recuse himself from considering any case that might impact Columbia, such as the
the one involving the University. Mr. Stamatakos indicated that the outcome of this was still
uncertain. He added that the NLRB would still be chaired by a Republican, who would have the
authority to control the agenda as well as the cases to be decided.

Mr. Kendrick mentioned that he had participated in two of the recent faculty meetings regarding
this matter, one involving Mr. Diermeier and the other with Mr. Nirenberg. He expressed
gratitude for the conduct of these important conversations inside departments, adding that the
departments and their faculty are what the University is all about. He noted that participants in
these meetings had listened well, and had expressed their concerns. He then voiced some of his
colleagues’ concerns and questions, as posed during those two meetings, and also added his own
views. First, he remarked that the specter of third parties supposedly interfering in the bargaining
process seems to have disappeared from the discourse. He indicated that many faculty members
recognized that the people who would be on the other side of the negotiating table would largely
be our graduate students, particularly those who have taken risks and put out a lot of energy in
defense of their perception of equality and decent working conditions at the University. He added
that they will be the ones who will bring to the table the actual daily working experience of being
research and teaching assistants, and characterized this as being very important. He then shared
his own view that the University should give them the good faith to go to the negotiating table in
that light.

Mr. Kendrick then suggested that it might be possible for the University to step back and consider
whether it wishes to follow the Yale route, involving decades of fighting about unions, resentment
on campus, hunger strikes, and such. He wished to argue that it was not only in the University’s
best interests, but in its best traditions, to embrace challenges, exploring different territory, and
dealing with difficult situations. He noted that Mr. Diermeier had conveyed the extent of
uncharted territory within this situation. He felt that if the University could view this as an
opportunity to improve not only the morale of graduate students, but also the situations of their
work, and the labor that they perform. He thought that if the University pursued negotiations

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17
right now, the effect upon morale would be a first step towards helping resolve the sheer problems
and distrust that Mr. Diermeier described so eloquently, which he believed to be a top priority for
the institution. He encouraged the pursuit of this direction, rather than following a strategy of
waiting for the NLRB and gaming the situation. He believed that his approach would be in line
with the University’s traditions, and also that which the graduate students are asking of this

Mr. Diermeier asked Mr. Stamatakos to provide some context as to what the negotiations and the
decisionmaking process would actually look like. Mr. Kendrick inquired about negotiations
involving the student Library workers, lecturers, and the Harper-Schmidt Fellows. Mr.
Stamatakos indicated that the University had refused to bargain with the Library workers, and
therefore no negotiations were taking place. He also noted that there was a pending request for
review. As a general proposition, he explained that negotiations would involve bargaining
committees on both sides, although how the union would go about electing its bargaining
committee was unclear. He noted that at Columbia, the United Auto Workers (UAW) held
internal elections to try to populate a bargaining team that was representative of the academic
departments and disciplines from which its graduate students come. In other situations,
volunteers have been sought. He observed that negotiations are a very time-consuming
undertaking, which sometimes takes months or years to complete. In addition, he noted that there
was always a chief spokesperson, who does not necessarily articulate the views of the bargaining
unit. Because these unions have an international scope and a corporate structure, there are often
broader agendas that they wish to advance. He mentioned that in the University’s experience
with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is representing the lecturers and
the Harper-Schmidt Fellows, the initial chief spokesperson was fired by the local, which is in
receivership. The international union then brought in someone from the east coast. He
commented that the proposals made at the bargaining table are informed by the goals of the
bargaining team and primarily articulated through the voice of the chief spokesperson. These are
followed by negotiations. In his experience, the labor union representing a bargaining unit often
has a heavy hand in deciding both the economic and non-economic goals. He added that unions
rarely cede the role of chief spokesperson to members of the bargaining unit, because there is so
much at stake from the union’s perspective, as well as the desire to advance its agenda. He then
mentioned that efforts have been made to ensure that management’s bargaining team in the
University’s SEIU negotiations is representative, and that the units have a voice in formulating its
proposals and negotiating those terms. He characterized negotiations as being a very time-
consuming undertaking, especially with regard to a first contract.

Ms. Grove asked whether students have any idea of the specifics and difficulties of these
procedures, as well as the fact that they will have to pay dues. Mr. Stamatakos replied that the
dues issue had been raised and addressed as part of the University’s educational campaign, which
had included the publication of frequently-asked questions documents and the conduct of town
hall meetings with graduate students. Ms. Grove remarked that essentially, it sounded like the
graduate students did not believe what they are being told by the University. Ms. Niestat shared
her own impression that those graduate students who had voted may or may not have been aware
of this information, though she expected that many of them did have knowledge of this aspect.
However, she also pointed out that many students did not vote, and they may not have been
following this issue as closely as the others. Mr. Ando commented that this was a factual matter,
adding that graduate students have been agitating for unionization for over a decade, and that the

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17
election turnout had been quite high. Mr. Diermeier noted that it had been in excess of 70%. Mr.
Ando mentioned that at the invitation of the Provost’s Office, he had participated in some
informational sessions at the departmental, divisional, and University levels, and there had been
very high participation rates at these gatherings. It was his sense that the students knew what they
were doing.

Ms. Grove then questioned whether students understood that union representatives have their own
agenda. Mr. Diermeier indicated that this was unknown, although these dimensions had been
mentioned during educational and informational sessions, and therefore this would not be a new
aspect to them. Ms. Grove viewed this as a case of students not believing what has happened in
these various interactions, but rather thinking that they will somehow be protected. She raised the
possibility of setting up some kind of student and faculty boards that could interact with each
other, to help shed light on these issues as a mock exercise without the involvement of the union.
Mr. Diermeier thought this was a great idea, but added that it was now too late to implement
something of this nature. Mr. Stamatakos explained that the University was essentially foreclosed
from dealing directly with students, who are now exclusively represented by the union for
purposes of negotiating the terms and conditions of employment. To do so would recognize the
union. The University also cannot make any material changes to their terms and conditions of
employment at this time. He then referenced the direct dealings principle, noting that it would
constitute an unfair labor practice for management to directly deal with employees who are
represented by unions, regarding terms and conditions of employment. Ms. Grove queried
whether it would be possible to simply provide students with information. Mr. Stamatakos
explained that this was an ambiguity in the law, adding that a labor union would likely interpret
this as being “dialogue”. He clarified that the University is required to maintain the status quo,
and cannot now negotiate with graduate students regarding issues that are tied to their
employment status.

Dr. Lindau asked whether the faculty, as management, also cannot engage in these types of
conversations with graduate students. Mr. Stamatakos replied that in a 1980s case involving
Yeshiva University, the U.S. Supreme Court had recognized the principle that faculty members
are members of management, and they embody managerial control and authority over decisions
that the institution makes. He explained that the Supreme Court had distinguished between
governance in academic and corporate settings. In that regard, the presence of bodies that not
only vote but also advise the administration, such as the Council, are indicia of being a member of
management. He expressed his belief that under the National Labor Relations Act, all faculty
members are managers, and therefore they cannot directly deal with people who are represented
by a labor union regarding terms and conditions of employment. He also mentioned that
increasing the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) stipends by more than a typical “status quo” annual
increase was not an option at this time.

Dr. Lindau speculated that most faculty members may not be aware of this, and therefore there is
the potential that they could take actions that would put the University at risk. She then asked
whether there were any other options besides proceeding with negotiations or waiting to see what
actions the NLRB will take. Mr. Stamatakos did not think so, adding that the agreement to
negotiate is a one-way street, and if the NLRB later decided to overturn the Columbia case, there
would be no meaningful option out, as the University would have already committed to negotiate,
and would not be able to benefit from that decision. Dr. Lindau then asked about the financial

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17
cost to the institution of those two options. Mr. Diermeier responded that this was uncharted
territory, because the other types of agreements that have been negotiated elsewhere were limited
to teaching, and are not applicable to the University’s situation.

He then spoke of the importance of continued faculty dialogue with their graduate students, to
further ascertain the nature of the unhappiness that many have expressed. He added that many
graduate students feel as if they are not being heard by the central administration or in certain
local contexts, and that they do not have enough of a voice. He emphasized that such dialogue
should be conducted in a manner that does not communicate any type of threat, or cross any of the
boundaries that have been described. Mr. Stamatakos further explained that the faculty has
always retained the prerogative to talk with their graduate students about their courses of study,
the academic requirements of their degrees, dissertation progress, job prospects, letters of support,
fellowship applications, and the like.

Ms. Hadley expressed some unhappiness with the construction of the phrase, “the graduate
students are unhappy.” She felt that this sentimentalizes their position, and noted that the
graduate students with whom she has spoken were very intellectually and politically alert
regarding their actions, and while they see things differently than some members of the faculty,
they have thought through the issues, and they are not being unreasonable. She commented that
they were highly informed, and not simply operating from a sense of grudging disappointment.
She also wished to register her concern about this conversation. While she recognized that Mr.
Stamatakos was providing a very authentic and genuine account of his experience with the
negotiations, this was the management perspective. She pointed out that there was another side to
the story, and others, including graduate students and union representatives, were not being
provided with an opportunity to speak about their own experiences. She indicated that she did not
know what they would say, adding that she was not a mouthpiece for their points of view or
siding with them. However, she felt it was important to point out that only one version of the
situation was being presented. She was uncertain as to how this might be rectified, as she felt the
administration has been resistant to bringing forward the other side of this debate, in a manner
that faculty could access.

Ms. Clemens observed that the University is a complex entity with fuzzy boundaries, and she was
uncertain as to which jobs were being included within the union. She pointed out that graduate
students work at places such as NORC, Chapin Hall, and the University of Chicago Press, which
have complicated and partial relations to the institution. She indicated that thought should be
given to what this encompasses. She then indicated that Mr. Kendrick’s earlier remarks had
resonated with concern, noting that there are now multiple contracts that are in different stages of
negotiation. She commented that these are eating up degrees of freedom, because in some sense,
Harper-Schmidt Fellows, lecturers, and graduate students are all in the same employment pool,
particularly to the extent that undergraduate teaching is an issue. Speaking from her perspective
as Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, she remarked that the concept of following
the status quo sounds so easy, but it is incredibly hard. She was uncertain as to what “following
the status quo” would mean for graduate students, once new contracts are in place for two other
groups in that setting. It seemed to her that this was perhaps an argument for not letting
everything harden before thinking about the best response to graduate students.

The Council of the Senate, 11.28.17
Mr. Pollack was torn between the substance and the process. He indicated real concerns
regarding graduate student unionization. He noted that unionization might result in a shrinkage of
some doctoral programs and bring other unanticipated effects. Despite these substantive
concerns, he did not believe that the University could oppose the union and command a
widespread sense of process legitimacy at this point. He expressed particular concerns about the
impact of an NLRB decision against the union that was facilitated by changes in the partisan
balance of NLRB appointments. He could not imagine that graduate students or others would
accept the process legitimacy of such a decision, particularly given that President Trump is
despised by so many members of the University community. He was not certain how to litigate
this situation in a way that graduate students and many faculty members would accept.

Mr. Kelly observed that it was hard to know what was best practice in this situation, and
characterized the situation in terms of being at a fork in the road. While he believed that the
faculty, as a group, were not yet ready to speak with one voice regarding a recommendation, he
observed that it would be a win-win if individual faculty members continue to talk with their
students, in an open and straightforward manner, and to wherever the line exists, about as many
issues as possible. Regardless of whether the NLRB rules in favor of or against the existence of a
union, he felt that if ongoing dialogue with students was taking place on a department-by-
department basis, there would be a real limit on the extent to which legitimate adult
considerations would be turned into hardened anger towards the institution. He observed that for
most students, the real University of Chicago is their department, and if communications continue
to flourish at that level, everyone will be in a better position, no matter what the final outcome of
the union situation proves to be.

Mr. Diermeier noted that this would be not the last opportunity for discussion of this matter, and
thanked everyone for their participation in today’s conversation. He adjourned the meeting at
5:00 p.m.

Carol E. Wilinski
Secretary of the Faculties

January 22, 2018




February 20, 2018


The Council of the University Senate met at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, February 20, 2018, in Stuart
105. Present were Daniel Adelman, Clifford Ando, Lisa Bernstein, Eric Beyer, Robert Bird,
Elisabeth Clemens, Whitney Cox, Daniel Diermeier, Eileen Dolan, Fred Donner, Greg Engel,
Michael Foote, Denis Hirschfeldt, William Howell, Elbert Huang, Kristen Jacobson, John Kelly,
Robert Kendrick, Richard Kron, Stacy Lindau, Shan Lu, Daniel Margoliash, Christine Mehring,
Richard Neer, Angela Olinto, Randal Picker, Harold Pollack, Marsha Rosner, Abbie Smith, Anne
Sperling, Kenneth Warren, George Wu, Robert Zimmer, presiding, and Carol Wilinski, the
Secretary of the Faculties. Also present, as invited guests, were Melissa Gilliam, Vice Provost for
Academic Leadership, Advancement, and Diversity; Dwight Hopkins, Professor, Divinity School;
Jason Merchant, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs; David Nirenberg, Executive Vice Provost;
Theodore Stamatakos, Senior Associate General Counsel; and Ronald Thisted, Vice Provost for
Academic Affairs.
The Council of the Senate, 02.20.18

The second matter that Mr. Zimmer addressed in his opening remarks was unionization. He
began by inviting Mr. Diermeier to provide a brief update.

Mr. Diermeier referenced a couple of significant developments that had taken place within the
past week. The first pertained to the overall legal landscape, both here and at a variety of other
peer institutions. He then asked Mr. Stamatakos to summarize the shifts to this landscape.

Mr. Stamatakos recalled that the graduate student union election had taken place in October 2017,
and the tally of votes had been performed on that day, after the voting concluded. Approximately
ten days later, a Certification of Representative had been issued, an action that he described as
having legal significance. He explained that this is a document that the National Labor Relations
Board (NLRB) provides to the union, stipulating that the election has been conducted, and
certifying the union as the exclusive bargaining unit of the graduate students who are members of
it. He described this as the legal standing that the NLRB gives to the union, to enable it to
bargain and file charges of unfair labor practices. He then noted that this certification was
rescinded by the NLRB on February 13, 2018, after the petitioner, Graduate Students United
(GSU) withdrew its petition from the Board. This had the effect of removing GSU’s legal status
as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the employees in the unit, and also
resulted in the NLRB denying as moot the University’s pending request for review. He then
mentioned that this same legal maneuver had taken place at several other peer institutions,
including Yale University, where eight petitions that had previously been successful had been
withdrawn. The same thing had happened at the University of Pennsylvania and Boston College.
He observed that these actions have taken away the NLRB’s ability to address the validity of the
Columbia University decision, and also has the other effect of removing the legal status of the
unions that have been elected to represent the bargaining units at those various institutions.

Mr. Stamatakos added that the NLRB had previously directed a repeat election at Harvard
University, which will take place in April 2018. He then described a bit of a standoff at
Columbia, where the petition has not been withdrawn by the union. He added that Columbia’s
union has demanded to bargain, but the administration has refused. However, the union has not
filed an unfair labor practice charge, so there is nothing that can be acted upon right now at
Columbia, and there are no matters currently pending a ruling by the NLRB. He also mentioned
that the NLRB would likely be controlled by a Republican majority soon, and also noted that even
if the Board wished to take up the Columbia matter, it cannot do so unless there is a live case. He
explained that the NLRB cannot act on its own initiative.

Mr. Diermeier then mentioned that as long as the legal process had been open, the University had
been at a standstill, and it could not address any of the issues that had come up regarding graduate
student education, funding, and the like. Now, however, because of these recent legal
developments, it is now possible to start this conversation, and to look at the various problems
and challenges that affect graduate education across the University. As he had mentioned before,
the outcome of the union election had indicated the existence of some serious problems that
needed to be tackled. This would be a comprehensive process, and include the involvement of
students and faculty. He spoke of the University’s role in ensuring that the integrity of graduate
education and Ph.D. programs is preserved and enhanced. He noted that Mr. Nirenberg would be

The Council of the Senate, 02.20.18
leading this process, and mentioned that because the recent legal developments had come as a
surprise, additional time was necessary in order to think it through. He then invited Mr.
Nirenberg to share his views on this matter.

Mr. Nirenberg recalled Mr. Diermeier’s earlier presentation to the Council, during which he had
stated that with or without a union, there were issues relating to graduate education that needed to
be discussed and addressed. It was his own belief that these issues should be confronted
holistically, and as consultatively as possible with existing and new groups of graduate students.
He also spoke of the need to identify new ways of reaching out to students, to involve them in
decisions that would affect them

Mr. Warren questioned whether it was the speed of the outcome, and not the outcome itself, that
had engendered the feelings of surprise. In his view, where the University wanted to be is where
it is now. He then expressed his own surprise at the absence of a clear direction regarding how to
proceed, since this was the University’s hoped-for outcome. Given that the NLRB’s decision
moots one aspect of the University’s stated opposition or reluctance to enter into discussions with
the bargaining unit or its third-party representative, he asked whether the University would now
be dealing directly with GSU, without any external representation.

Mr. Stamatakos replied that from a legal perspective, GSU is an unincorporated association of
students. While it had withdrawn its petition, it had still chosen to affiliate, and had not
disaffiliated, with two corporate entities, the American Association of University Professors
(AAUP) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). He noted that GSU was a union, and it
was still the petitioner. He pointed out that there was still an affiliation between GSU and the
organizations that it chose, by vote, to affiliate with, as GSU has not disaffiliated with those

Mr. Warren questioned whether, at this point, there was no intention of dealing with GSU
directly. Mr. Diermeier emphasized the importance of thinking about this issue from a
comprehensive and holistic point of view, and via a process that allows for proper discussion of
different points of view from various perspectives. He explained that from the very beginning,
the University’s point of view had been that the collective bargaining process, as structured, was
not conducive to this. He added that there had also been legal and substantive arguments on the
merits, and this had not changed.

Mr. Warren did not understand how the concept of “comprehensive” had any meaning in this
context. Mr. Diermeier noted that collective bargaining has a particular structure, and while there
were different points of view on this matter, it was his belief that it was a bad process. Mr.
Warren asked how, going forward from this point and in the absence of a collective bargaining
environment, a process could be comprehensive if GSU, which has a view on this matter, would
not be a part of it. Mr. Diermeier was certain that there would be a student view on this matter.
However, he believed that additional thought needed to be given to how this process should be
structured, due to the number of possible contingencies. It was his wish not to rush this matter,
and to approach it in a deliberate manner that brings the students into the process. He
underscored that this was not going to be constrained by the parameters of the traditional
collective bargaining process, for the reasons that he had articulated earlier.

The Council of the Senate, 02.20.18
Mr. Cox referenced the previous impasse, during which it had been viewed as necessary to
maintain the status quo. He recalled that in meetings of the Council and also within the
Humanities Division, there had been discussion about agreements in principle, and the value and
necessity of, for example, offering a sixth year of Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) funding or
increasing the dollar amounts of stipends for graduate students. Acknowledging that these
discussions were still in the early stages, he asked whether a list of priorities had been developed,
and whether such information could be shared at this time. Mr. Diermeier replied that there were
many such priorities, some of which were specific to particular academic units. For example, a
sixth year of GAI funding was especially important to the Humanities Division, as well as to
some parts of the Social Sciences Division (SSD). While the University had been unable to look
into this earlier, this could now be given serious consideration. He also mentioned the existence
of general concerns, such as the level of stipends and housing. From his point of view, everything
was now on the table.

Mr. Cox shared his understanding that there was general consensus around the desire to offer
sixth year GAI funding. Mr. Diermeier indicated that it depends on how this is done. Mr. Cox
mentioned the belief that the impasse had been preventing its implementation. Mr. Diermeier
indicated that there had never been a serious conversation about this option, because the
University could not take such a step. He concurred that the importance of this option had been
conveyed to him by the Humanities Division, and while he understood this view, he underscored
that it was necessary to think through the specific tradeoffs associated with such an option.

Mr. Nirenberg added that there was no central place within the University in which such decisions
are made. He described the matter of sixth year funding as being a decision for the Humanities
Division to make, with regard to how it uses its GAI and other resources. He also emphasized the
importance of divisional leadership in any discussion about the entire comprehensive approach to
rethinking all of the aspects of graduate education with an eye towards improvement. He
observed that perspectives would vary across divisions, faculty members, and graduate students,
and this was one of the reasons why the process would be a complicated one.

Mr. Diermeier commented on the level of interest in discussion of this topic, and mentioned the
possibility of continuing this conversation at a subsequent Council meeting.

Ms. Bernstein wondered about the strategy for changing the tone. She mentioned that just prior to
the decertification, she had met with an active participant in GSU, and had asked about the
desired outcome. The response she received had indicated that GSU’s members had multiple
opinions about priorities. She had then probed to determine whether there was a single major
objective that was being held by all, but her impression was that students had not yet coalesced
around a single and definitive set of goals. As a result, she thought that tone might matter a lot,
going forward, as well as timing. She then stated her understanding of the University’s position,
that all of the units were so different, so it would not be possible, and would make no sense, to
have one agreement that covered everything. She assumed that going forward, it was the
University’s desire that students might begin to appreciate that taking a division-by division
approach would be more advantageous to them. It was her view that it might not be desirable to
wait for the administratively optimal time to take action. She suggested that there might be a
need to take some actions sooner, to provide a sense of forward momentum, even if this consisted
of very specific unit-by-unit listening. She added that she did not know how it was that some

The Council of the Senate, 02.20.18
graduate students had developed a view of some University administrators as the devil, and
remarked that this was not a good thing. She anticipated that there were some politicking tasks
ahead, and reiterated that tone and appearance may be as critical as administrative rationality. Mr.
Diermeier agreed, noting that there had already been attempts to make that shift. He viewed this
as a matter of balance.

Ms. Clemens wished to strongly endorse Ms. Bernstein’s point. She understood the issue to be
about recognition per se. She thought that there needed to be an affirmative response indicating
that the University did not wish to have a uniform approach across all of the divisions, and setting
forth its objectives. Mr. Diermeier stated that he was in total agreement.

Mr. Kelly thought it was very important to recognize that we are living in increasingly agonistic
times, and he felt that calming the situation was extremely important. He then identified two
major moves that had been made, characterizing one of them as wise and the other as increasingly
problematic. He noted that the University had correctly understood the national terrain, but had
massively underestimated the pushback, as manifested by the union election results. He
characterized the fact of the election victory in those terms. He also noted that the students’
frustrations were very real, and that they had a desire to talk about them, whether in the presence
of administrators such as Mr. Nirenberg or outside of that realm. He also pointed out that the
students were just as confused as everyone else, with regard to the optimum approach. He called
for a “both/and” framework, in which GSU would be invited to various venues, but not
exclusively, and given ample space to bring forward every good idea it has. Mr. Nirenberg
agreed that an open discussion was important, adding that he could not imagine a scenario in
which GSU sympathetic graduate students would be excluded from expressing their views and
participating in this discussion, any more than students with other views would be.

In light of the hour, Mr. Zimmer thanked everyone for their contributions to this dialogue, and
called for the Spokesperson’s Report.

Spokesperson's Report—3 April 2018
Committee of the Council
Clifford Ando

The committee met on 3 April 2018 in the Library of the Quadrangle Club. In attendance
were Provost Daniel Diermeier (presiding); Darren Reisberg, Vice President for Strategic
Initiatives; Carol Wilinski, Secretary of the Faculties; and committee members Erin
Adams, Clifford Ando, Will Howell, John Kelly, Christine Mehring, Randy Picker, and
Ken Warren. Guests attending were: David Nirenberg, Executive Vice Provost; and Beth
Niestat, UChicagoGRAD Administration and Policy

1. Graduate Education (David Nirenberg, Beth Niestat)

Mr. Nirenberg opened by reflecting on continuities and change in the contexts and
importance of graduate education since the Baker Commission's Report on Graduate
Education (University of Chicago Record 3 May 1982). On the one hand, Nirenberg
argued, doctoral education is a multiplier that drives innovation: universities are entrusted
by contemporary societies to do basic research; doctoral students are essential to many
modern research enterprises; and the size of doctoral programs have largely tracked federal
funding of basic research. On the other hand, the structures of universities have changed a
great deal: the possibility and conditions of employment for new PhDs at universities are
eroding; the situation is in many ways worse than mere placement numbers reveal, because
many jobs for adjunct instructors do not require a PhD; and fewer and fewer doctoral
graduates even in the life sciences are using their research skills in their next job.

One outcome is that high ranking programs are claiming in increasing share of tenure-track
jobs, especially at R1 institutions. Within this environment, Chicago has had historical
strengths, in part because of the size (absolute and relative) of its graduate cohorts. This
claim is borne out by data on the selectivity of its graduate programs. However, while
efforts to identify problems and potential reforms in graduate education have been on-
going for a generation, real institutional reform here and elsewhere has only begun in the
last 15 years. Primary evidence for this is the revision in graduate funding, where, with
appropriate cost of living adjustment, Chicago is now in real competition with its peers.

The discussion was wide-ranging and focused on the correlation of department rank and
placement; how to identify the skills inculcated and taught by PhD training and, hence,
how to assess the utility of a PhD in non-academic employment; and how one might
properly pose and answer the question of whether the university system is overproducing
PhDs. An alternative form of this question was also considered, namely, how might one
assess the relationship between investment in graduate education and the outcomes that we
expect or tolerate. Should the University evaluate the utility of its PhD programs
differently if these are funded by grants—graduate students being essential to the conduct
of basic research—or via university-funded fellowships? If programs are esteemed
according to where they place their students, would it be better to reconfigure funding so
as to have smaller cohorts of the best students?
Mr. Nirenberg described some recent experiments, including the Neubauer program,
whose outcome suggests that increased funding, intelligently deployed, improved
recruitment, time-to-degree, and placement. Future innovations may include more
guaranteed funding and post-doctoral employment (a "flipped" funding model), though it
was urged that one must safeguard against perverse incentives that urge the continuation
of weak students.

These issues will be taken up by a provostial committee on graduate education, whose work
will commence this year.

2. UChicagoGRAD (David Nirenberg, Beth Niestat)

Mr. Nirenberg introduced the topic of UChicagoGRAD by reference to the prior

discussion: the program was initiated in part as a response to the changing ecologies of
graduate education and post-graduate employment. It is now more essential than ever for
PhD programs, as well as their students, to build bridges beyond the academy.

Ms. Niestat described both the history of UChicagoGRAD and also its current initiatives,
which assist individuals and programs with recruitment, career development, alumni
engagement, and graduate and postdoctoral experience. The program seeks to cultivate the
soil, as it were, by inducing industry, non-profit and government employers to consider
doctoral graduates for employment, and also to train students to present themselves to non-
academic employers.

The conversation concentrated on two issues: the evaluative frameworks that we bring to
doctoral education and to placement outcomes. Terms like "innovation," it was urged,
predispose the question of what we understand the research contribution of doctoral
students to be. Similarly, it was urged that the fit between the conditions of research and
the outcomes of doctoral education will never be neat.



December 6, 2018


The Council of the University Senate met at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, 2018, in Stuart
105. Present were John Alverdy, Marc Berman, Lisa Bernstein, Elisabeth Clemens, Whitney Cox,
Shannon Dawdy, Daniel Diermeier, Greg Engel, Michael Foote, Anton Ford, Adom Getachew,
Elbert Huang, Kristen Jacobson, Heather Keenelyside, Robert Kendrick, Christopher Kennedy,
Michael Kremer, Gabriel Lear, Shan Lu, Daniel Margoliash, Peggy Mason, Christine Mehring,
Jennifer Mosley, Emily Lynn Osborn, Harold Pollack, Na’ama Rokem, Zachary Samalin, Haresh
Sapra, Kenneth Warren, Robert Zimmer, presiding, and Carol Wilinski, the Secretary of the
Faculties. Also present, as invited guests, were Clifford Ando, Chair, Department of Classics, and
Member, Committee on Graduate Education; Kenneth Polonsky, Executive Vice President of the
University for Biology and Medicine, President of the University of Chicago Health System, and
Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine; Vicky Prince,
Professor, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and Co-Chair, Committee on
Graduate Education; and Darren Reisberg, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Deputy
The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18

Update – Committee on Graduate Education

Mr. Diermeier noted that this was the first opportunity for the Council to hear from representatives
of the Committee on Graduate Education (CGE), which was established and charged by the Provost
in April 2018, and to provide feedback. He explained that the establishment of the committee was
driven by the desire to evaluate, in detail, various aspects of Ph.D. education at the University. He
recalled that this had last been done by the Commission on Graduate Education that was chaired by

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
Keith Baker, which had issued a report in 1982. He felt it was time to reexamine various aspects
of graduate education, including how to think about the success of programs. In contrast to the
Baker Commission, the CGE is being co-chaired and co-staffed by faculty members and Ph.D.
students. He stated that the CGE had performed a heroic amount of work so far, including data
analysis and interviews, to identify successes and challenges relating to doctoral education at the

Ms. Prince began her remarks by observing that arguably, the most unique feature of the CGE is
that it is comprised of both faculty and graduate students, which she felt was entirely appropriate
given the topic. She pointed out that three of the original members of the CGE – Interim Dean
David Nirenberg and graduate students Hannah Burnett and Elise Putnam - had stepped down due
to other commitments. In addition, one of the student members, Rita Biagioli, had since graduated
and become an employee of the University, and she is continuing to help provide a student

Ms. Prince noted that the CGE received a broad charge from the Provost, and its primary focus was
doctoral education. Elements of master’s and professional student education will also be
considered, where these provide important context. She indicated that the CGE has broad latitude
to produce a report in the manner it sees fit, but it has also been asked to address a variety of specific

She noted that as a committee, the CGE’s goals are to fully document the University’s current
practices in graduate education, and to establish where concerns and problems lie and fully
articulate them. In addition, it will aim to signal the direction of potential solutions, without being
overly prescriptive. She reiterated that this will be the first report to comprehensively review
graduate education in 36 years.

Ms. Prince then spoke of the CGE’s ongoing efforts to gather and evaluate information, using
University and national reports on graduate education including the Baker Commission Report; a
2016 report from the Mellon Foundation, titled “Reforming Doctoral Education”; external data
from sources such as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Center for
Education Statistics; and internal data relating to admissions, attrition, retention, teaching
requirements, degree completion, and career outcomes. She mentioned that the CGE has access to
the results of many previous University surveys and assessments, and it has generated three surveys
of its own. One was an email survey of Directors of Graduate Studies within the units, from which
much was learned regarding program practices. Another was a survey of graduate students, which
had elicited a high response rate, with participation by 2,261 students, or 40% of the University’s
Ph.D. student population. A faculty survey has also been completed, which achieved a 36%
response rate. She extended her thanks to all faculty members who had participated in this survey.
Finally, the CGE is evaluating information from various offices, and is involved in ongoing
conversations with faculty colleagues, administrative staff, and student groups.

Ms. Prince noted that the CGE’s report will place the committee’s work in a broad international
and national context, and also one that is University-specific. In order to do this, the committee has
determined that it must define the purposes of graduate education. She indicated that as a
committee, the CGE was moving towards a shared consensus that the role of graduate education is
to prepare stewards of the academic disciplines, a function that is inextricably linked to that of the

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
University itself, to produce, safeguard, and disseminate new knowledge that can be built on further
through additional research, with the potential to benefit society as a whole.

Ms. Prince added that the term “stewards of the academic disciplines” was previously used in a
collection of essays compiled by the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate. Stewards include
University faculty, as well as others outside of the University setting who are directly involved in
the creation and dissemination of knowledge, and who are using their Ph.D.-level skills to support
those endeavors. In other words, these stewards include a substantial number of individuals from
outside of the academy, who hold Ph.D. degrees. She indicated that programs such as
UChicagoGRAD and the myCHOICE program in BSD are key to the success of these individuals.

Ms. Prince concluded her remarks by noting that the rest of the CGE’s report would focus on topics
such as academic issues, student life and campus climate, and administrative and financial issues.
It will also contain a summary, and conclusions that point the way towards solutions, without being
overly-prescriptive. She emphasized the importance of local knowledge based in local cultures in
establishing best practices for the future. Finally, the report will include extensive appendices that
provide much of the data upon which the CGE’s arguments would be based. She then asked Mr.
Ando to share some of this data, as part of his presentation.

Mr. Ando began by observing that the CGE had done quite a lot of work so far, and had gathered
an exhaustive amount of information. The committee also hopes that the final report will also
contain some department-specific data, in addition to the information provided in the appendices.
He then presented samples of the kind of information that the CGE was gathering, and offered some
thoughts regarding one aspect of graduate education at the University.

First, Mr. Ando explained that the CGE was collecting placement data for both the one-year and
five-year periods following receipt of a Ph.D. degree. He reported that good data existed regarding
placement outcomes going back several decades. He pointed out that placement into tenure-track
faculty positions five years after graduation has essentially held steady since the Baker Commission
issued its report in 1982. However, there were dramatic changes in academic employment, broadly
construed, that took place between 1973-74 and 1982. He added that this would be discussed more
fully in the report. He also mentioned that the CGE was not altogether happy with the distinction
between academic and non-academic careers, because the taxonomy was not simply a classification
exercise, but also a normative claim. He commented that in certain kinds of disciplines, there are
many ways of pursuing scholarly endeavors or participating in a research culture without being part
of an academic institution, and he underscored the CGE’s mindfulness of this point.

Mr. Ando noted that the CGE was spending a good deal of time studying time-to-degree and
attrition data, in the context of “good” and “bad” versions of both. He spoke of the widely-held
belief that attrition late in a student’s program is considered bad for students as well as the
University. He then displayed graphs depicting both good and bad versions of attrition. He also
mentioned that the implementation of the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI), which provides five-year
funding packages for students in SSD, the Humanities Division, the Divinity School, and the School
of Social Service Administration, represents the University’s single largest investment in graduate
education in the last 12 years. The CGE is also taking a serious and comprehensive look into how
the GAI has affected attrition and time-to-degree, and how well the program has worked since its
inception. He indicated that the implementation of the GAI appears to have had a positive effect

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
on attrition, as well as a slight positive impact on time-to-degree. He added that in addition to the
GAI, there may be other steps that can be taken at the divisional, departmental, and curricular levels.

Mr. Ando noted that Ph.D. students are financed by a variety of mechanisms, including University
resources such as the GAI, along with external sources such as grants. He mentioned that even
within the GAI, there is a great deal of heterogeneity that is being masked by this taxonomy, in part
because of the underlying conditions that had existed at the time of its launch in 2007. He stated
that the levels of support across units were largely comparable, regardless of funding source, and
with regard to the GAI, these levels have been increasing quite rapidly in recent years.

Next, Mr. Ando discussed the graduate student survey. On the whole, 76% of respondents indicated
that they were very or mostly satisfied with their academic experience at the University. He
described it as being a long survey, also noting that there were a number of questions that had not
been asked, for which responses might be sought later. He indicated that the survey results provided
quite a bit of information about those aspects with which students were unhappy. He revealed that
respondents had expressed a great deal more satisfaction with faculty engagement and interest at
the level of academic advising. However, there was unhappiness about faculty feedback on
academic work, and especially regarding faculty advising about various kinds of careers, both
academic and non-academic. To the latter point, he noted that the University is supplementing the
resources available to students, particularly through the remarkable services offered by
UChicagoGRAD. Nevertheless, he felt it was clear that this data provided a great deal of
information about those areas in which further work needs to be done.

Mr. Ando then mentioned that the survey had also highlighted the existence of student anxieties
about personal finances and also around food. He noted that with the aid of the University’s Office
of Institutional Analysis, the survey data is being parsed in order to identify the populations within
which such anxieties are occurring. With regard to the responses around personal finances, the data
is being analyzed in terms of students’ GAI status, it being important to understand whether the
anxieties occur among students during or following their GAI funding.

Mr. Ando concluded his remarks by referencing an analysis of teaching records, which showed that
a third of the students who are being funded by University resources such as the GAI are not
completing the teaching that is required within the five years of their funding. He pointed out that
the provision of such teaching opportunities was not guaranteed to them. He also explained that
the amount of money that students are expected to earn from teaching is subtracted from their
paychecks, and while students receive a stipend, they only earn money for teaching when they are
given such assignments. Therefore, the third of the students who do not complete their GAI points
within the five years of the fellowship are not receiving the money that they were promised in their
offer letters. He added that this situation is isolated to approximately six departments, perhaps
relating to the form of College teaching that those departments perform. He expressed his hope
that the CGE’s analysis, and its clarification of the nature and extent of this problem, would result
in the provision of assistance rather rapidly, and contribute very directly to a solution.

Ms. Mason expressed curiosity as to how the CGE was thinking about the issue of diversity.
Speaking from the BSD perspective, she observed that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is
now expecting diversity at both the graduate school and faculty levels, as a condition of maintaining
support for our graduate students. She commented that this has become not only a moral issue, but

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
a financial one as well.

Ms. Prince confirmed that the CGE, particularly its subgroups, was grappling with diversity as a
topic. In particular, students have raised the issue of the importance of having diversity within the
faculty, to assist with the mentoring of all students, as well as the expansion of cultural competency,
which in turn has positive effects on the faculty’s mentoring capacity. She believed that there is
also a qualitative component to this topic, and mentioned that student survey responses had
contained a large amount of qualitative data that is still being analyzed. She added that such analysis
is a complex task. She also mentioned that while the CGE has been given access to appropriate
datasets from within the survey’s full dataset, caution is being taken such that it will not be possible
to ascribe specific opinions to particular individuals in small departments, for example.
Nevertheless, the CGE hoped to glean more insights from the qualitative data from the survey, in
addition to conversations with particular student groups regarding the student experience and
climate issues relating to diversity.

Ms. Mehring noted that she had observed broader trends within the humanities and in her discipline
of art history, in which time-to-degree pressures favor students who already possess an M.A. at the
time they begin their doctoral studies. She also observed that M.A. programs generally are not
funded. She commented that time-to-degree pressures are countering diversification efforts, and
asked whether the CGE was also seeing such trends.

Ms. Prince replied that the CGE had requested data regarding outcomes relating to ethnicity, and
was still awaiting these results. To date, however, the CGE has not yet requested outcomes data
relating to master’s degree status, and it had not planned to link those two variables together. She
thanked Ms. Mehring for providing this suggestion, noting that such an exercise might result in
additional insights.

Mr. Ando added that this aspect might be deserving of a more sustained institution-wide
conversation. He commented that the desire to expand tuition-based M.A. programs is in tension
with the wish to use them as pipelines for doctoral programs. His understanding was that a number
of M.A. programs were using a portion of their tuition revenue to provide financial aid to some
percentage of their students. He agreed that this was worthy of additional consideration, as this was
an essential issue.

Mr. Engel cited the enormous efforts that have been undertaken within the College Admissions
Office to improve the applicant pool, noting that these have been a great success. However,
graduate admissions processes are handled by the departments. He surmised that building a
stronger graduate pool may help improve post-graduation career prospects, and asked whether the
CGE’s final report would attempt to disseminate best practices or suggestions at the institutional
level for developing larger numbers of high quality applications to the graduate programs.

Mr. Ando indicated that the Dean’s Office in the Humanities Division currently has someone who
is working with departments on a set of strategies to improve recruitment. He added that there had
been sustained attention within the Baker Commission Report to the problem of recruitment, and
the dangers that are posed to an institution when there are attempts to maintain cohort size in a
changing landscape characterized by a diminishing quality of graduate students. However, he felt
that more recently, the units have not been giving sufficient attention to admissions processes. He

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
then shared his own personal concern about the quantity of attrition that the University has faced.
He also revealed whenever he has suggested that the amount of attrition might point to a need for
reviews of admissions processes, this observation has been met with resistance. He noted that the
2016 Mellon Foundation report had included results from a survey of university reports on graduate
student education from the previous 25 years. It had drawn the conclusion that graduate education
was the area of university life that was most resistant to change. He surmised that this was probably
due to its being the area in which the faculty are essentially reproducing themselves, and a
perception that any change would represent an attack on the system that had fostered their own
academic stature. He observed that the topic of attrition and admissions has proven to be very
difficult to talk about, although this was not a reason to forego an attempt to do so.

Ms. Prince referenced a meeting with UChicagoGRAD that she had attended earlier in the day,
regarding holistic admissions processes. An admissions committee composed of members from
throughout the University had been invited to participate in this meeting. She recalled that a portion
of the presentation had addressed University-level support of recruitment efforts, using a case study
from PSD. She thought it would be appropriate for the CGE to think further about the admissions
process, and underscored that there were already some University-level resources in place.

Mr. Engel suggested separating recruitment, which is proceeding well, from application
development, which is an area that could be improved.

Mr. Zimmer thought this was a very important and critical point, and observed that when areas
within the University have taken these questions seriously and devoted effort and resources to them
in a sustained way, significant improvements have resulted. He noted that this had happened very
dramatically in the College, as well as in the Law School and the Pritzker School of Medicine.

Mr. Margoliash commented on the existence of graduate training that exists behind a large
administrative wall in BSD, as distinct from elsewhere within the University. He argued that this
was to the disadvantage of graduate training within biological sciences as well as the integration
between knowledge in biological sciences with the rest of the campus. He posed the question as
to whether the CGE had looked at this aspect. He added that he presumed it had not done so, and
asked why this was the case.

Ms. Prince replied that the CGE had considered this issue, though in a slightly broader context. She
explained that the CGE had investigated the administrative structures of the GAI, in comparison
with those in place within non-GAI divisional units, and had discovered some commonalities
between the way that BSD, PSD, and IME work as science, technology, engineering and
mathematics (STEM) units. Gradually, it had become clear that both BSD and PSD contained some
departments that were subject to constraints that did not pertain to others. For example, in PSD the
Mathematics Department does not have the same level of opportunities to obtain grant funding. As
a result, its Ph.D. students teach three courses a year from their third year of study onward, which
represents an unusual teaching burden that is problematic. There is also a somewhat analogous
problem within BSD, in that the three programs within the Darwinian Sciences Cluster – the
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and
the Committee on Evolutionary Biology – cannot tap into NIH biomedical research funding
opportunities in the same ways as other units in the Division. She added that National Science
Foundation (NSF) funding for graduate students has decreased, and certain mechanisms from NSF

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
and the U.S. Department of Education have essentially disappeared. She thought this represented
a similar problem, but one with a different, and probably unsustainable, solution, as these students
cannot take part in the teaching-assistant model. This requires BSD to additionally prop up these
very highly ranked programs. She noted that while the CGE’s report would not contain an answer
to this problem, it would certainly point out this dilemma.

Mr. Margoliash expressed agreement with Ms. Prince’s comments, and noted that the problem
extends even further. He commented that in academic research programs that are integrated across
multiple departments, students from different units are sitting side-by-side, yet they have very
different expectations, requirements, and funding support for their graduate training. He viewed
this as being unhealthy, adding that this can also impact and inhibit the free exchange of ideas with
colleagues across campus. He also saw this as being burdensome on students. He felt that this
question was worth addressing, in order to maximize the value of the University’s graduate training.

Ms. Prince replied that Mr. Margoliash had raised a valid point, noting that the CGE had discussed
the inherent value of interdisciplinary research. She again referenced the concept of academic
stewardship, and clarified that this was not intended to serve as a rationale for a siloed approach.
She indicated that the CGE would give additional attention to this point.

Mr. Warren pointed out that notwithstanding the comprehensiveness of the CGE’s final report, the
concepts of unions or unionization had not been mentioned, with respect to the vote that had taken
place last year. He recalled that at the October 2017 meeting of the Council, Mr. Diermeier had
indicated that the vote itself had been an indication of a need to devote more attention to the
condition of the University’s graduate students. He asked whether the CGE’s report would
explicitly attempt to address the extent to which graduate students, and perhaps members of the
faculty, feel that one mechanism that would be conducive to improving graduate student morale
and life more generally, would be for the administration to recognize the vote that had taken place
last fall, and to agree to negotiate with Graduate Students United (GSU). It seemed strange to him,
given what has happened over the past year, that a report about graduate student life would not
mention an issue that has been in the forefront of many discussions.

Mr. Ando affirmed that the CGE intends to have a conversation about this aspect. He added that
the CGE conceives of its responsibility to offer as precise an articulation of problems as possible,
and to gesture in the direction of important solutions. He thought that there may well turn out to be
a set of issues in which it could be said that collective bargaining with graduate students would be
a great way to solve the problem. His instinct was to say, on that issue as well as a whole series of
other matters related to the quality of graduate education, that the CGE’s function would not include
the formulation of a specific policy recommendation regarding a solution. Rather, it would offer
as informed of an analysis of the nature, extent, and source of the problem as possible, and in so
doing, try to help others find solutions. He anticipated that there would be a set of problems for the
President and Provost to solve, as well as one for Deans and departments.

Ms. Prince noted that the CGE was not blind to, or ignoring, the context of interest in unionization,
and this would be part of its report, as part of the context for its findings. She added that it had been
a deliberate decision to not yet have that conversation within the committee, as it was important for
the CGE do its work and draft its report before addressing that issue.

The Council of the Senate, 12.06.18
Mr. Warren asked for clarification as to whether the CGE’s report would address the matter of
unionization, and Ms. Prince confirmed that it would, at a yet-to-be-determined level.

Mr. Zimmer thanked Ms. Prince and Mr. Ando for their presentation. He then extended an
invitation for all to attend a holiday reception at the Quadrangle Club for the members of the
Council, to take place following the adjournment of this meeting. With that, he adjourned the
meeting at 5:05 p.m.

Carol E. Wilinski
Secretary of the Faculties

January 25, 2019

Spokesperson’s Report – April 23, 2019
Committee of the Council
Gabriel Lear

Present: Daniel Diermeier (Provost); Anton Ford; Elizabeth Grove; Gabriel Lear; Kenneth Warren;
Carol Wilinski (Secretary of the Faculties); Robert Zimmer (President and Chair).

Guests: Vicky Prince (Professor, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and Faculty
Co-Chair, Committee on Graduate Education); Clifford Ando (Professor, Department of Classics,
and Member, Committee on Graduate Education); Darren Reisberg (Vice President for Strategic
Initiatives and Vice Provost).

1. President’s Welcome

President Zimmer welcomed members of the Committee of the Council and the guests for the
day’s meeting.

2. Report of the Committee on Graduate Education

Ms. Prince began by describing the process of and data available to the CGE. She highlighted the
fact that the response rates for graduate and faculty surveys were high (40%; 39%) and the
advantages of having graduate students as members of the committee. She hopes that the CGE
report will trigger habits among faculty of regularly reviewing their graduate programs and of
looking at data when considering possible reforms. Mr. Ando said that reflection on the
shortcomings of past reforms (e.g., the effect of the Graduate Aid Initiative for Divinity,
Humanities, and Social Sciences on time to degree) suggests that reform needs to be holistic (e.g.,
curricular as well as financial).

The University’s investment in graduate education varies widely by discipline. Our situation is
roughly similar to Yale’s, which recently did a study that shows they spend (not including tuition
costs) approximately $4,000 per graduate student in the biological sciences; $25,000 per student
in the physical sciences; and $140,000 per student in the humanities and social sciences. Given
the size of this investment, Provost Diermeier emphasized the importance of getting clear on what
the goals of graduate education should be and on what counts as a successful outcome. Ms. Prince
said that the CGE used the concepts “stewardship of knowledge” and “stewardship of the research
tradition” as an umbrella that could cover the goals of a variety of programs. The purpose of
graduate education is to train the future stewards of knowledge. Stewards of knowledge include
tenure-track faculty at R1 institutions and other academic appointments, but also staff at funding
agencies, museum curators, science journalists, and non-academic scientists. One important
implication of this approach, Ms. Prince said, is bringing into focus that the faculty should not
view the goal of graduate education as being simply to reproduce itself. Mr. Ando pointed out that
this situation is not new; although the nature of academic employment since 1980 has shifted
significantly away from faculty positions, the overall proportion of our students ending up
employed in academia (63%) has not.
The question was raised whether, for the purposes to shaping programs and assessing success, we
should consider an educated public to be among the stewards of knowledge. Also, how should we
think about the need to steward traditions of scholarship that are not currently popular but whose
existence depends on the support of major research universities? The question was also raised
whether Provost Diermeier is more concerned about outcomes for Divisions in which the
University makes a greater investment. (No, was his answer, but he wants all units to be honest
about their success; mere employment after graduation is not the goal.) Ms. Prince pointed out
that surveys, such as one conducted by the NSF, asking alumni about their satisfaction with their
PhD and whether their current job draws on their PhD knowledge can provide useful information
about outcomes.

The CGE discovered that there is a major gap between student and faculty satisfaction with
mentoring. Students especially wish they received more feedback from faculty about teaching,
although a significant proportion also are dissatisfied with faculty feedback on research and career
advice. Fortunately, faculty appear to be quite receptive to the idea of receiving training in
mentorship. The CGE recommends that such a program be created.

The meeting concluded with discussion of how to ensure uptake of the analysis and many
recommendations in the CGE report. The Provost’s Office is already moving forward with
recommendations concerning student housing, grievance processes, and the logistics of payments
to students. But deeper programmatic reforms, if they are needed, will have to occur at the level
of divisions, schools, and programs. President Zimmer emphasized that deans must routinely be
asked to account for the success (or lack thereof) of the programs in their units. But beyond that,
how can the faculty be encouraged to review their graduate programs in light of the lessons of the
excellent CGE report?



April 30, 2019


The Council of the University Senate met at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Stuart 105.
Present were Lisa Bernstein, Paul Cheney, Elisabeth Clemens, Daniel Diermeier, Aaron Dinner,
Michael Foote, Elizabeth Grove, Reid Hastie, Elbert Huang, Kristen Jacobson, Robert Kendrick,
Christopher Kennedy, Michael Kremer, Richard Kron, Gabriel Lear, Shan Lu, Daniel Margoliash,
Peggy Mason, Christine Mehring, Emily Lynn Osborn, Na’ama Rokem, Robert Rosner, Callum
Ross, Janos Simon, Julian Solway, Konstantin Sonin, Anne Sperling, Kenneth Warren, Shmuel
Weinberger, George Wu, Robert Zimmer, presiding, and Carol Wilinski, the Secretary of the
Faculties. Also present, as invited guests, were Clifford Ando, Chair, Department of Classics, and
Member, Committee on Graduate Education; Deborah Gorman-Smith, Dean, School of Social
Service Administration; Colleen Grogan, Professor, School of Social Service Administration; Paul
Nealey, Professor, Institute for Molecular Engineering; Vicky Prince, Professor, Department of
Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and Faculty Co-Chair, Committee on Graduate Education;
Darren Reisberg, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Deputy Provost; and Matthew Tirrell,
Pritzker Director and Dean of the Faculty, Institute for Molecular Engineering.
The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19

Report of the Committee on Graduate Education

Mr. Diermeier introduced this discussion by noting that the Committee on Graduate Education
(CGE) had been created about a year ago, for the purpose of taking a comprehensive look at Ph.D.
education within the University. He noted that it had been intentionally designed to include equal
representation from faculty and graduate students, with Ms. Prince and a doctoral student serving
as co-Chairs. He stated that CGE had recently delivered a very comprehensive final report that
included lengthy appendices, and he thought it had done a great job of assessing the status of
graduate education across the University, with a lot of data and a great deal of thoroughness. The
report had also included a number of recommendations, some of which were very practical and
capable of being implemented right away. In that regard, he announced that two initiatives had
been launched earlier in the day, relating to grievance processes as well as housing and
transportation. He indicated that other recommendations would require additional thought, and a
number of these initiatives would have to be implemented within specific departments and
programs, or at the decanal or provostial levels. He pointed out that in addition to this work, efforts
were also underway in the divisions and schools, as well as within the Provost’s Office. He viewed
these efforts as the beginning of a campus-wide conversation on the future of graduate education

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
that will be taking place at these various levels. After concluding his remarks, he invited Ms. Prince
and Mr. Ando to provide an overview of some of the CGE report’s findings.

Ms. Prince noted that the CGE had produced a lengthy and comprehensive data-driven report,
which begins in the first chapter with some overarching and intersectional recommendations, along
with a guide to the rest of the report. She then commented on topics that were discussed in the
report’s second and third chapters, where CGE had attempted to evaluate both the national and local
landscapes of graduate education, and the related issue of the changing academic workforce. She
then referenced Figure 2.2 from the report, which showed a steady increase in the numbers of
doctoral degrees awarded nationwide since 1982. She explained that this starting point had been
chosen because it coincided with the publication of the Baker Commission on Graduate Education
report, which had represented the last time that the University had embarked on a comprehensive
evaluation of its graduate education. She pointed out that since 1982, there had been about a 50%
increase nationwide in the number of doctorates awarded, although this result has not been mirrored
within the University.

Ms. Prince then referred to Table 2.1, which showed first placement outcomes. Between 1971-80,
there was a dramatic reduction in the number of graduate students who went on to research and
teaching positions. This had been a matter of concern within the University, which had
subsequently led to the creation of the Baker Commission. However, since then the numbers have
remained fairly consistent, although she noted that the details were important. For example, there
are now far more postdoctoral fellows in training, and as postdoctoral education now involves a
lengthier time in order to achieve a stable academic position. There has also been a dramatic change
in the labor force. Tenure-stream positions have dramatically dropped in number, while at the same
time non-tenure-stream teaching positions have increased. In other words, the odds of landing a
tenure-track position have worsened, because there are greater numbers of graduate students
competing for fewer opportunities.

Ms. Prince called attention to the findings of a 2016 Mellon Foundation Report, “Reforming
Doctoral Education, 1990 to 2015: Recent Initiatives and Future Prospects”, which had reviewed
curricular reform across many institutions. This report had noted that many programs responded
to this situation by essentially creating a credentialing arms race. These institutions tended to add
requirements to better qualify their graduates for the future, and this had often extended time to
degree. She articulated the CGE’s position that curricular reform requires programs to resist the
temptation to only add requirements rather than to replacing them. She revealed that both students
and faculty across the University have expressed concern about the topic of time to degree. She
also noted that within the new academic workforce, quite a few University students aspire to
achieve tenure-track positions, and she felt it was important that efforts be made to prepare them
appropriately, including within the divisions encompassing the science, technology, engineering,
and mathematics (STEM) fields, even though there is a robust employment market outside of the
academy in those areas.

Ms. Prince turned to a discussion of Table 3.1, showing first- and five-year employment outcomes
at the level of divisions and schools. She indicated that there were major differences by subject
area. In the humanities and, to a slightly lesser extent, the social sciences, large proportions of
graduate students continue to be placed into academic roles. However, it is clear that not all
graduates go on to academia, and if they do, many of them are not joining four-year R-1 research

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
institutions. She believed it was important for programs to understand the job market and associated
placement data of its graduates, in thinking about how to prepare its students.

Ms. Prince noted that these topics raise the question of the purpose of a University of Chicago
education. She observed that opinions about this differ widely, ranging from the desire to reproduce
research faculty, all the way to generating a well-educated populace. She stated that the CGE took
a middle ground, adopting the concept of academic stewardship, a term originally put forward by
the Carnegie Institute. Academic stewards include all those who create and disseminate knowledge
in a variety of settings, including institutions such as the University, as well as small schools,
museums, research institutes, and government laboratories. Many individuals with Ph.D. degrees
are needed in order to support this mission, including those employed at publishing houses, journals,
and federal agencies. She observed that in order to prepare academic stewards, the development of
transferable skills and a solid understanding of available careers should be key elements of doctoral

Turning to a discussion of local data, Ms. Prince called attention to Figure 3.1, which showed
enrollment trends. She pointed out that the number of doctoral students enrolled trended upwards
until 2008, and then shrank down at the advent of the University’s implementation of the Graduate
Aid Initiative (GAI). Figure 3.2 looked at enrollment trends by division since 2008. She noted that
Physical Sciences Division (PSD) enrollments have increased, presumably reflecting an ability to
attract external funding in order to support students, whereas in the humanities and social sciences,
enrollments have declined, apparently driven by the GAI. Figure 3.3 addresses this more closely,
at the level of individual departments and programs.

Ms. Prince explained that the GAI had been designed to provide significant and stable funding
packages to Ph.D. students. The GAI was first implemented within the Humanities Division and
the Social Sciences Division (SSD) during the 2007-08 academic year, and was extended to the
Divinity School one year later, and to SSA in 2014. These funding packages were tied to
professional training, primarily in the form of teaching. She then articulated the CGE’s opinion
that the GAI was both an educational and moral imperative, and was also necessitated by
competition among schools. She added that GAI-funded students now have levels of overall stipend
support that are similar to those in BSD. She observed that the GAI was clearly a significant
investment by the University, and indicated that the CGE had aimed to evaluate its overall success.
At its launch, the GAI’s stated goals had included a reduction in levels of attrition, as well as
shortened time to degree. These were the parameters that the CGE sought to evaluate.

Ms. Prince then discussed a couple of examples of Kaplan-Meier plot data, relating to the
Humanities Division and BSD. She explained that these provided a visual understanding of rates
of attrition relative to those of graduation, for cohorts of students who matriculated between 2007-
08 and 2009-10. She indicated that there had been more late attrition within the Humanities
Division, and fewer students had graduated by their eighth year. She mentioned that this type of
data is available for every program, and has been provided to the Deans, who have been encouraged
to share it with individual units. She believed that this data will be extremely useful for program
self-review, which was one of the CGE report’s overarching recommendations.

Returning to a discussion of what has changed since the implementation of the GAI, Ms. Prince
called attention to the data in Figure 6.1.A, which showed attrition in the Humanities Division and

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
SSD both before and after its launch. She observed that there has been a positive trend, but the
change has been relatively minimal, particularly with regard to the problematic area of late attrition,
following the third or fourth year of graduate study. This attrition occurs after the University and
the student have significantly invested in the latter’s doctoral education. She added that attrition is
no doubt inevitable and healthy, as some students will eventually realize that they are not following
the right path. However, she also spoke of the desire to achieve patterns of attrition that are more
similar to those within BSD, with most of such departures occurring within the first three years of
graduate study.

Ms. Prince then discussed Figure 6.1.B, which depicts time to degree trends. These data reflects
the achievement of modest improvements. She clarified that a lack of change was not unique to the
University, and the Mellon Foundation report had commented that this was also true across many
institutions that had attempted curricular reform. She remarked that data like these had led to the
CGE’s recommendation that doctoral reform must be a holistic process, including financial
investment and curricular reform as well as attention to advising and mentoring. She noted that
CGE’s survey data had revealed a big disconnect between faculty and student views about the
quality of mentoring being provided. She raised the possibility that some of the late attrition that
has been occurring could be a consequence of poor mentoring.

Next, Ms. Prince turned to a discussion of the experience of students. She highlighted an interesting
finding from Figure 3.4, noting that on multiple metrics, student satisfaction often declines over the
course of time enrolled. She suggested that if time to degree could be reduced, higher levels of
satisfaction would result. She then called attention to Table 3.2, which lists reported obstacles to
academic success. More than half of students who were dissatisfied overall indicated that lack of
faculty helpfulness was an obstacle, along with 17% of students who reported feeling satisfied
overall. She indicated that these data, in conjunction with the findings from student focus groups,
reveal that it is essential to achieve improvement in this area. She also mentioned that the
information reported in Figure 3.4 raises climate issues, adding that negative department and
research group culture disproportionately affect dissatisfied students.

Ms. Prince concluded her remarks by noting that the remaining data provided in the informational
packet delved more deeply into climate issues, and illustrated differential experiences among
different groups. She described these as being very important issues that call for better
understanding of the factors that lead to discrepancies in experiences, particularly within ethnic
groups or by gender, as well as the dismantling of institutional and local practices that are either
unwelcoming or discriminatory towards particular groups. Related to this, she emphasized that
students need access to appropriate recourse mechanisms, especially in cases in which there is an
abuse of power dynamics by faculty, a point that had been referenced during focus group
discussions. She added that holistic reform of graduate education must also address climate issues,
and ensure adequate resources to support the University’s graduate students. She emphasized that
data were of central importance to the CGE’s work, and their collection and analysis will continue
to be essential for improving the University’s programs for graduate students, going forward. She
expressed CGE’s hope that programs would use data carefully as part of their self-reflection efforts,
to beneficially impact training processes, improve recruitment, and more carefully consider
appropriate cohort sizes.

Mr. Ando referenced Ms. Prince’s use of the term “curricular reform”, and noted that a great deal

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
of literature about the reforms of graduate education over the last quarter of a century has shown
that this has typically taken the form of additional requirements. Anxiety over the tightness of the
job market leads parties to seek additional credentials. He also mentioned that suggestions about
graduate reform at the level of how to run admissions, determinations of cohort size, or the nature
of curricula tend to be met by academics and departments with moral or sovereigntist language, and
are viewed as assaults on departmental autonomy. He underscored that the CGE was a University-
level committee, charged with evaluating a set of problems that exist at that level and making
specific recommendations in regard to them. In relation to the limitations of its own expertise as
well as the distributed structure of responsibilities within the University, he explained that the
CGE’s recommendations pertaining to individual programs and units were fairly limited. He noted
that in addition to encouraging programs to engage in a process of self-examination of their
practices, the report also points to some of the information and resources available within the
University that can be helpful in accomplishing reforms across a wide range of issues. He saw this
as being essential, as well as a moral matter in the education of the University’s graduate students.

Mr. Diermeier commented that he had found the CGE’s findings relating to the attrition issue to be
both striking and worrying. He noted that a number of programs were experiencing 25% attrition
rates in year nine, which affects students in their mid-30s who have invested significant time, effort,
and lost earnings potential before dropping out of a Ph.D. program. He viewed this as being
extremely problematic, and felt that it was a moral responsibility to confront this reality and to
question why this has been occurring on a systematic basis.

Ms. Bernstein was curious as to how attrition rates within the various programs correlated with the
time during which students begin to do their first fully independent research projects involving
original work. She explained that the Law School offers fellowships, which cost students about
$300,000 in lost income, and she noted that she urges her students to think very carefully before
they embark on academic careers. To that end, she teaches a special workshop in which students
have the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a young academic, and this ultimately
provides them with a clearer sense of the path they are choosing. With respect to curricular reform,
she thought that one possibility would be to think very carefully about where students are getting
tripped up, and to perhaps create a course or seminar that would enable students to develop a better
sense of academic life early on, in a way that would help inform their decision-making process
about future goals.

Ms. Prince replied that the CGE had discussed how graduate school can represent a point of
transition for students, from being consumers of knowledge to creators of it. She observed that this
transition occurs at different times across the variety of programs, and indicated that the CGE had
not conducted an analysis that could show whether there was a clear correlation with attrition. She
referenced the stepwise patterns of attrition that continue over a number of years, and commented
that this does not fit with the idea that there is a choice point at which students suddenly have their
weaknesses revealed. She added that the CGE thought it was important to encourage earlier
evaluation of students’ capacity to be active researchers, rather than later, and where possible, to
tie this to up-or-out decisions. She commented that faculty sometimes find it difficult to let students
know that they are not succeeding, and this was likely part of the problem. She also mentioned that
sometimes students do well initially but then fall off the radar, and they do not get the help they
need. She thought that both of these aspects were related to advising and mentoring issues, adding
that this requires the existence of a means to evaluate progress and aptitude relatively early on in

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
the process, and that this would differ by program and field.

Ms. Bernstein thought that this was more than an issue of faculty advising. In her experience, once
students develop an understanding of the nature of the “game”, they have a remarkable aptitude for
sorting themselves. She commented that her own sense of who is fit to continue along the academic
path tends to correlate with the self-assessments of students, and she suggested that there might be
an underestimation of the benefits that might flow from helping students see themselves more

Ms. Lu called attention to Table 4.2, relating to gender differences in faculty engagement factors
and campus climate. Ms. Prince replied that in the two divisions with few female students (IME
and PSD), it was the women who had experienced the problems. In the unit with few male students
(SSA), men were experiencing more of the issues. She surmised that this could be representative
of a tipping point phenomenon, and those who feel that they are part of a distinct minority feel a
level of discomfort. One way of fixing this is to not have a distinct minority, but she acknowledged
that this was sometimes difficult to accomplish. She emphasized the importance of developing an
awareness of the differential experiences of those in different gender and ethnic groups. She
confirmed that the information depicted in Table 4.2 was taken directly from survey data, and in
order to get more resolution on these topics, the implementation of a more targeted survey would
be required. Ms. Lu asked whether survey respondents had offered any comments. Ms. Prince
explained that CGE conducted an evaluation of qualitative data, adding that this was referenced in
the body of the final report. Mr. Ando added that CGE obtained the assistance of the University’s
Office of Institutional Analysis in gathering such data. He indicated that there had been a hesitation
about making granular data more public, due to concerns about confidentiality.

Mr. Kennedy commented that he had seen experiences of the attrition process working well, but
questioned whether there was a more nuanced way of looking at these issues. He also spoke of
situations in which students who have not completed their Ph.D. requirements have gone on to
attain legitimately valuable positions in which they can make substantial contributions. He
remarked that while these students might have been better off if they had completed the degree,
they were nevertheless engaged in productive work.

Ms. Prince’s understanding was that the tracking data was focused on students who had earned their
Ph.D. degrees, and that the same resolution of data was not available regarding those who had not
completed them. She indicated that CGE’s report called for an evaluation of the latter category of
data, where possible, as this was an interesting topic.

Mr. Zimmer shared his view that students who attrit out of Ph.D. programs should be given an
honorable and graceful exit, and not one that is characterized in terms of failure. He observed that
these students have participated as members of the University community and have invested their
time and energies in their education. He spoke of the need to figure out how, as an institution, these
students can be respected as they move on to other good and honorable positions, without a hovering
sense of failure. He noted that the CGE had given this issue some consideration, in a way that was
very productive.

Responding to Ms. Bernstein’s and Mr. Kennedy’s observations about connections between high-
level attrition and “success”, Mr. Ando raised the question of whether there is a point at which

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
attrition levels in a graduate program are high enough so as to trigger a review of admissions
processes. He noted that the modern form of such processes makes re-examination possible, and
while this can be laborious, departments could, if they chose, perform some scrutiny of their historic
admissions practices.

With regard to Mr. Zimmer’s observation about the need for a positive exit strategy for students
who are going to attrit, Ms. Prince noted that the report suggested that there might be opportunities
for one-year professional master’s degree programs, to provide them with a useful credential. She
added that while the CGE had not explored whether this was a realistic option, this did constitute
one potential possibility for a positive exit route.

Mr. Cheney mentioned that he had served on the SSD Doctoral Education Review Committee, and
preparatory to that, he had read the Baker Commission report. He had been struck by how little
had changed since the time of its issuance, and it too had been very thoughtful and empirically
written. He then posed the question as to what would be different this time, as a result of the CGE’s
report and recommendations.

Ms. Prince replied that a number of actions have already been taken following the issuance of the
CGE’s report, and as a committee, its members were feeling positively about outcomes.

Mr. Diermeier noted that this was a University-wide initiative that had originated from the Provost’s
Office, adding that the units had also independently taken steps to look at many of these issues from
their own perspectives. He was very encouraged by the fact that everyone was concerned about the
same types of issues, and that these inquiries were being pursued in a similar direction. He observed
that all across campus, there was lots of discussion, debate, and engagement around these issues,
and there were great opportunities to address these issues. He spoke favorably about the level of
collaborative engagement around these matters, adding that these discussions were attuned to the
differences between the programs. He felt very optimistic, and assured his continued focus on these

Mr. Diermeier also commented that some level of attrition was inevitable, and spoke of the need to
support students who attrit early, to ensure that they are launched into productive careers. His sense
was that serious thought had not yet been given to this question, and he felt that this was a very
important part of the University’s responsibility for its Ph.D. students. He again stated his
optimism, and highlighted the need to remain engaged and to look at reality. He viewed self-
deception as representing the biggest danger, and emphasized the importance of identifying issues
that need to be addressed, and fixing them.

Dr. Solway referenced Table 3.2, which indicated that approximately one-third of students who
reported being satisfied overall had also identified personal illness, injury, or lack of psychological
well-being as being obstacles to academic success. He asked whether there was a control group
comprised of individuals who were not students at the University. Ms. Prince replied that the
literature regarding mental health issues indicates that the rate of incidence of anxiety and
depression among graduate students is six times that of the non-graduate student population. Ms.
Mason’s understanding was that the rate of incidence was even higher within the College and in
undergraduate populations. Ms. Prince agreed that this was an issue that needed to be addressed,
and that there was a need for additional resources. She noted that the CGE had talked with students

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
about their needs and how these were being met, and she mentioned changes that were currently
underway, including the construction of a new consolidated health and wellness center. She added
that students had emphasized the particular stresses associated with their first year of graduate
study. One contributor to these stresses was an insufficiency of information regarding expectations,
and she felt that this was something the University was in a position to alleviate.

Mr. Warren mentioned that during the Committee of the Council’s discussion of the CGE report,
he had expressed his admiration for its thoroughness and judiciousness as a whole. He wished to
reiterate those sentiments here, particularly the report’s judicious language with respect to the issue
of graduate student unionization, which he thought had been handled very well. Generally
speaking, he did not feel that anything in the report obviates a discussion about the University’s
position with respect to graduate student unionization, as the document references the moral
obligation that we have to our graduate students, and the respect that we owe them. He referenced
the overwhelmingly positive vote on the part of the University’s graduate student population in
favor of unionization, and also cited the example of some of the University’s peer institutions, such
as Harvard University, who have chosen to recognize their graduate students’ vote for unionization.
As one means of expressing support for the University’s graduate students, he urged the
administration to listen to their view. His understanding was that several members of Graduate
Students United (GSU) had been members of the CGE, and that they had participated in discussions
around this issue and stated their points of view very effectively. His sense was that they wished
to see the recommendations of the CGE report enacted, but they also felt that recognition of their
desire to unionize was part of the overall remedy for improving graduate student life at the
University. He did not think that this issue was settled, and expressed the desire to come back to it
at some point, and to have the administration reconsider its position that it would not recognize

Ms. Prince commented that the student members of the CGE were all comfortable with the language
of the report. Mr. Warren concurred that this was his impression also.

Mr. Diermeier agreed that the CGE had done a nice job of addressing this in its report. He
underscored that this had been a faculty-led process with significant student input. It had also been
a deliberative process, one that allowed for a reflective assessment of the issues. He clarified that
if the University were to recognize the union, that process would stop, and be replaced by the highly
regulated and legalistic process of collective bargaining. He strongly encouraged the faculty to
inform themselves about the current situations at Harvard and Columbia Universities. He
emphasized that these were not compatible processes, and shared his strong belief that the
University’s current approach serves the institution well, and was showing some progress. He
acknowledged that there were different points of view and preferences around this matter, but felt
that it was absolutely crucial to understand that the existing deliberations that were underway,
regarding funding and the organization of graduate student programs, would have to stop, and these
would be replaced by a collective bargaining process. At that point, the role of the faculty would
end. He reiterated that the two processes were alternatives, and not compatible with each other.
He again noted the existence of different perspectives about this issue, and indicated that this matter
could be discussed again at future Committee or Council meetings, if desired.

Mr. Margoliash agreed that the CGE report was a very impressive document, one that serves the
University very well, and he thanked the committee and the administration for supporting this effort

The Council of the Senate, 04.30.19
and bringing it to fruition. He believed that this was an important first step that could facilitate
conversations across a variety of different areas. He then asked if it was known whether there were
larger numbers of dissatisfied graduate students now than in previous years, as changes in practices
could presumably have had some sort of effect on satisfaction.

Mr. Ando recalled that data was available regarding satisfaction levels within particular cohorts.

Mr. Margoliash concurred with earlier commentary regarding the need for some students to attrit,
and challenged the various programs to explain why such needs could not be identified earlier. He
also posed the general question as to whether it would be possible to shift more of the dissatisfied
students towards a greater level of satisfaction. Mr. Diermeier thought this was a great question.

As the meeting drew to a close, Mr. Diermeier noted that the May 28, 2019 Council meeting would
have a very full agenda, including a discussion of the proposal for Lecturer titles. In addition, there
have been some changes to the consensual relations section of the University’s Policy on
Harassment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct, a matter that had been discussed within the
Council earlier in the academic year. He recommended that a new version be sent out for review
prior to the May meeting, and if Councilors agree with the revisions, then the policy would be
finalized. However, if there was a desire for additional discussion, this could occur as part of a new
business item, if there was sufficient time to do so. However, if time was constrained, then the
matter would be taken up in the fall.

Mr. Zimmer then thanked everyone for their participation, and adjourned the meeting at 5:00 pm.

Carol E. Wilinski
Secretary of the Faculties

May 27, 2019





June 11, 2019


The Council of the University Senate met at 1:40 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Room C07 of
the Charles M. Harper Center. Present were Daniel Adelman, Marc Berman, Kathleen Cagney,
Paul Cheney, Elisabeth Clemens, Whitney Cox, Daniel Diermeier, presiding, Aaron Dinner,
Michael Foote, Anton Ford, Elizabeth Grove, William Howell, Kristen Jacobson, Robert Kendrick,
Christopher Kennedy, Michael Kremer, Richard Kron, Gabriel Lear, Stacy Lindau, Shan Lu, Daniel
Margoliash, Richard Neer, Emily Lynn Osborn, Na’ama Rokem, Callum Ross, Zachary Samalin,
Haresh Sapra, Janos Simon, Konstantin Sonin, Kenneth Warren, and Carol Wilinski, the Secretary
of the Faculties. Also present were the following newly-elected members of the 2019-20 Council
of the University Senate: Clifford Ando, Claudia Brittenham, Elaine Hadley, John Huizinga,
Jonathan Levy, Sarah Nooter, Clifton Ragsdale, and Christian Wedemeyer. Also present, as invited
guests, were Jason Merchant, Vice Provost; Beth Niestat, Executive Director, UChicagoGRAD
Administration and Policy; and Theodore Stamatakos, Senior Associate General Counsel.

Welcome/Report of the Provost

Mr. Diermeier welcomed everyone to the special meeting of the Council, and explained that he
would first offer some general remarks, to provide an overview and context. Mr. Stamatakos would
follow with an update regarding the previous week’s industrial action, and then more general
discussion would take place. He also noted the presence of Mr. Merchant and Ms. Niestat as
additional resources, and shared his view that the dialogue taking place at this meeting would not
likely constitute the only discussion of this topic. He then reported that President Zimmer was
traveling, and observed that while this meeting had a good turnout, it was taking place during a
different timeslot than usual, and not everyone was able to be in attendance.

Discussion of Graduate Student Unionization

Mr. Diermeier began by referencing the Council’s recent discussion regarding the final report of
the Committee on Graduate Education (CGE), as well as the June 6, 2019 statement of the Provost’s
Office. He then shared his own point of view, as well as some context, on the topic of doctoral
education. He emphasized the importance of having clarity around the purpose of doctoral
education, which in his mind was very different from undergraduate and masters-level education,
in that it is fundamentally about educating the next generation of scholars who will make a
significant and useful contribution to their specific fields. He also mentioned the CGE’s use of the
term “academic stewards”. He clarified that this did not mean that success is only defined in the
context of work within academic institutions. Rather, success is achieved when one’s doctoral
The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
education and degree can be used to advance their chosen field forward, whether in academia,
museums, national laboratories, or a variety of national and international institutions. He then spoke
of outcomes that he considered to be less successful, namely those for which doctoral study was
unnecessary. He referenced the tendency to talk oneself into viewing certain types of outcomes as
being a success, when in fact they are not. He indicated that every department and program needed
to think about this question for itself.

Mr. Diermeier then noted that he had heard references to oppression and exploitation. He pointed
out that every Ph.D. program on campus was losing money, adding that this is as it should be,
because the University’s purpose is to educate the next generation of scholars, and it therefore
invests its resources in its students. With regard to financial payment transfers to students, he
explained that students who receive assistance pursuant to the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) are
funded for their first five years of study. In addition, there are contributions from faculty who teach
graduate courses and work with students. He estimated that the financial outlay for each graduate
student during their first five years of study, regardless of whether they receive funding from the
GAI or federal grants, is about $180,000. The net cash outlay for each graduate student in GAI
departments, when factoring in contributions in the form of teaching or course assistantship, is
approximately $140,000 – 160,000. The amount that the University invests in each student in
departments in the physical and biological sciences is approximately $20,000 – 30,000, because of
the amount of support available from federal grant funding. Students in the Biological Sciences
Division (BSD) require the smallest investments of University funding, approximately $10,000
apiece, due to the amount of federal grant funding available from the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). He underscored that the University was always investing in its doctoral students, in
furtherance of its mission of educating the next generation of scholars. He added that there was no
other program within the University for which this was also true, as net revenues come from the
College and the master’s and professional school degree programs, which also pay for faculty
research, financial aid, and a host of other objectives.

Next, Mr. Diermeier raised the question of how to think about graduate education. He felt it was
a little misleading to talk about graduate education as a single matter. His sense was that graduate
education could be divided into three segments, each with its own set of challenges. The first
segment involves the laboratory sciences, including BSD and certain programs in the Physical
Sciences Division (PSD), such as Chemistry and Computer Science. All of these programs have
the same structure, whereby funding comes from third parties such as NIH and the National Science
Foundation (NSF), and students work with particular faculty members as an essential member of
their research teams. He indicated that almost all of these students earn Ph.D. degrees and obtain
jobs in their fields, both inside and outside of academia. He observed that the challenges within
this segment relate to issues of proper mentorship, grievances, recruitment of the best students, and
necessary support structures and benefits. He characterized these as being fixable problems, and
referenced the establishment of a number of institutional working groups to address these matters,
in response to the findings of the CGE report.

Mr. Diermeier then discussed the second segment of graduate education, involving programs in the
Mathematics, Linguistics, and Economics Departments. These disciplines receive little to no grant
support, and their students take courses and then work with a committee of faculty to produce their
dissertations, usually within five to six years. These students all obtain jobs that are related to their
fields of study, both inside and outside of academia. The challenges affecting this segment of

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
students are related to proper mentoring and issues with supervisors, and he believed that these
could be fixed by looking at them one at a time.

Mr. Diermeier observed that the biggest set of problems exists within the third segment of graduate
education, involving programs in the humanities, some of the social sciences, and the Divinity
School. These programs are structured similarly to those in the second segment, in that there is
little to no grant funding available, and also very little philanthropic support. He believed that the
problem within this segment was largely driven by external forces, including the underfunding of
public universities and significant pressures on liberal arts colleges that have led, in some areas, to
a collapse of the job market. He indicated that the best available data was related to history and
religious studies programs, which show that the number of available positions has been cut in half
over the last decade. He noted that he had spent a great deal of time talking with students who were
on the job market, and he encouraged Councilors to do the same. He observed that time to degree
in many of these programs was very long, and suitable jobs were difficult to obtain. Funding
packages end after five or, as would soon be the case within the Humanities Division, six years.
Students then receive decreased levels of support, from $31,000 to $12,000 - $18,000, supported
by additional teaching. This makes it more difficult for them to finish their dissertations in a timely
manner, resulting in a long time to degree. He added that in some of these programs, there is high
attrition in the eighth or ninth years of graduate study, and even beyond. He described this as being
a very specific problem, and a difficult one to resolve because the University does not control all
of the factors. Nevertheless, he believed that this was something that the University absolutely
must tackle. He underscored that the types of problems affecting each of the three segments were
different in nature, and he thought that great progress had already been made. He commented that
this was a difficult and challenging task, and spoke of the need to reconsider the current structure
of GAI funding, as he found it unacceptable that some students have to live on $15,000 a year, and
that 6 – 7% of them, particularly those in their later years of study, experience food insecurity. He
reiterated that these problems need to be fixed, and in a thoughtful way.

Mr. Diermeier then spoke of the existence of legal and political issues around graduate student
unionization, as well as ideological positions in favor of or against it. He expressed his concern
that graduate student unionization would not fix those problems that must be addressed, because
the structure of collective bargaining was not suited to tackling those types of reforms, including
those pertaining to mentorship and relationships between students and faculty. To him, this was a
policy question, and he believed that unionization was at odds with addressing the issues around
doctoral education.

Mr. Diermeier then invited Mr. Stamatakos to provide an overview of some of the events that had
transpired during the industrial action that had taken concluded several days earlier.

Mr. Stamatakos described the industrial action as being a strike and picket combination that had
been called for by Graduate Students United (GSU), an organization that was seeking to represent
many of the University’s graduate students for the purposes of collective bargaining. He noted that
GSU is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association
of University Professors (AAUP). He reported that the industrial action had taken place over three
days during the previous week. There had been picketing between the hours of 9:00am – 6:00pm
at a number of University buildings, including Cobb Hall, Harper Memorial Library, Swift Hall,
Stuart Hall, the Social Sciences Research Building (SSRB), Ryerson Laboratory, Eckhart Hall, and

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
Hull and Cobb Gates.

Mr. Stamatakos commented that by and large, the picketing had been peaceful, and did not call into
question or jeopardize other people’s safety, or constitute disruption under Statute 21, which
prohibits conduct that substantially interferes with instruction and research. Nevertheless, a number
of incidents had been reported over the course of those three days. He then referenced a message
that had been sent by Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University, prior to the beginning
of the industrial action. This message had reminded students of the University’s fundamental
commitment to ensuring their safety, as well as the limitations of free expression as it relates to
disruptive conduct. He then explained that the night before the picketing began, a College student
had reported and forwarded social media posts that had included threats against students at a
particular residence hall who were not supportive of the strike. Both this student and his parents
had expressed great concern with regard to safety, and as a result, Ms. Rasmussen’s message had
been intended to serve as a reminder that such actions would not be acceptable, although the conduct
of protest and dissent itself was appropriate. Mr. Stamatakos noted that over the course of the three
days, there had been roving picket lines that were designed to signal that people should not cross
them. He added that there had been requests by Deans-on-Call and the University of Chicago Police
Department (UCPD) to allow people to cross them, in order to enter and exit buildings. However,
some buildings had been entirely blocked, while others were partially so, and in situations involving
the latter, people had utilized other entrances. In instances in which there were complaints about
blockage, there had not been proactive engagement, and in some cases, picket captains either
refused or declined to let people pass, or to reduce the volume of their protest activities. One
example of the latter involved the cancelation of lectures within SSRB. There were other instances
in which students who attempted to enter or exit a building reported not only verbal harassment,
but were also physically touched. In one situation, a faculty member was attempting to cross a
picket line, and there had been a deliberate attempt to trip him, which had caused him to fall. He
also mentioned that there had been multiple complaints from students and their parents regarding
the inability to study at Regenstein and Harper Memorial Libraries. With respect to the latter, some
of the protest activity had moved inside of the library, but the protestors left when they were asked
to do so. Mr. Stamatakos also revealed that a person with a mobility impairment had attempted to
use an accessible ramp into Wieboldt Hall. He had been prevented from doing so, even after
repeated requests, and had been forced to walk down steps, which had caused discomfort to him.
There had also been roving pickets at Hull and Cobb Gates that had prevented an elderly couple
and a mother with a stroller from crossing. In both instances, the police officer who was assisting
them reported that he had been shoved in the back. Finally, Mr. Stamatakos mentioned
unconfirmed reports that picketers were throwing objects at students and faculty who were
attempting to cross picket lines, and that long-standing blockages of accessibility ramps were

Mr. Stamatakos explained that reports of such instances had been concerning because of the
University’s fundamental moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety of all, including staff and
employees who need access to their work spaces. He pointed out that there had been some instances
in which these obligations were not honored, although they had not been breached in any significant

Mr. Diermeier noted that the Deans-on-Call had been available to respond to significant concerns,
referencing an instance in which an entire building had been blocked. He estimated that

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
approximately 250 people had been picketing, some of whom were University students, but others
were non-affiliates. Therefore, it was difficult to assess who did what, in this particular context. He
indicated that while the overall situation was not problematic, some incidents had generated 15-20
complaints. To him, the more concerning incidents were the ones involving threats of violence,
and he shared his view that this constituted an appropriate time to send out a reminder about the
types of actions that were and were not acceptable.

Mr. Margoliash wished to make a comment that, while not intended as a focus for today’s
discussion, he believed to be useful. He recalled that immediately following the vote on graduate
student unionization, Mr. Diermeier had reported to the Council that he had been very surprised
with regard to the level of student unhappiness that this election had revealed. He noted that since
then, Mr. Diermeier and central administration had been extremely active in responding to a number
of longstanding issues, and he thought this was wonderful. He then pointed out that many students,
including those who did not support unionization, were very frustrated, adding that he has had
useful discussions about this with students in one of his classes. He observed that these problems
had been festering for a long time, and yet it took student efforts to organize before these had
received attention. He suggested that had the University responded five or ten years ago as it was
doing now, none of this may have come to pass. He thought it was important to reflect upon this
point, because as an administration and a community, the University had previously missed those
issues. He also felt it was important to gain an understanding of how and why the University failed,
and what could be done in the future. He again noted that his comment did not address the specific
issues that are the subject of today’s meeting.

Mr. Diermeier agreed that there have been long-festering issues, and spoke of the desire to not let
this be an excuse. He highlighted some of the efforts that are currently being led by Vice Provost
Melina Hale, such as those that are being undertaken in response to frustrations around Institutional
Review Board (IRB) approvals. He stated his commitment, and that of the Provost’s Office, to
tackle these issues, many of which are hugely complicated. He also noted that all of the University’s
peers were dealing with similar issues, as referenced in the findings of the 2016 Andrew W. Mellon
Foundation report on reforming doctoral education. He described himself as being extremely
energized and optimistic about the processes that are underway in various parts of the University.
He highlighted the level of faculty engagement in these processes, and expressed his wish that there
be more student input than in the past. He added that within the last month he had begun meeting
with groups of students, in order to obtain their first-hand perspective.

Mr. Kennedy asked about the strategy in place for convincing students and faculty who are skeptical
and frustrated that this will be a substantive long-term engagement, one in which the administration
will be listening carefully to what they are saying. He then referred to Mr. Stamatakos’s statement
that the students had engaged in a strike, and compared this with a letter that had been sent during
the previous week by Mr. Diermeier, which had indicated that these students had chosen not to
work, and to withhold their teaching, responses to students, and continuation of their research. He
viewed these as constituting different framings of the same set of events.

Mr. Diermeier highlighted the unusual nature of these events, which had not been structured in a
typical fashion. He clarified that the University had never received a strike notification or demand,
and that the only known fact was that there had been a vote for the industrial action. He confirmed
that the administration did not know what was going to happen until the Friday before the Monday

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
initiation of the industrial action, and that there had been no prior communication from the union
regarding its plans. He observed that this made it a complicated situation to navigate, which had
influenced the choice of wording that had been used in reference to the situation.

Mr. Ford observed that there were different ways of dealing with this type of situation, and pointed
out that the University was following a path that was distinct from what other peer institutions were
pursuing. He thought this was related to the fact that there was disruption of undergraduate
education at this campus, but not at Harvard University. Mr. Diermeier pointed out that such
disruption had also occurred at Columbia University. Mr. Ford noted that the University was not
constrained by the legal framework from recognizing GSU. He then mentioned that there had been
a significant process of public deliberation on this campus that had been endorsed by the
administration as being legitimate, and that the administration had used this in making its case. He
commented that the University cannot act as if this did not happen. He then referenced an email
from then-Executive Vice Provost David Nirenberg that had concluded with an urging for all
eligible voters to vote, and had conveyed that “your voice truly matters’. He recalled that two days
later, the graduate students overwhelmingly voiced their opinion. However, this was not treated as
if it was an element of the decision-making process. Rather, it was regarded as a poll. He found
this to be quite appalling, and he did not believe that this should be shunted aside. He added that
Harvard did not respond to the vote of its graduate students in the same way that the University did.

Mr. Diermeier observed that there has been zero progress on anything that matters at Harvard and
Columbia Universities. He offered examples of the types of the issues that are front and center at
those institutions, including Title IX, the use of third-party arbiters, and sanctuary campus status,
and stated that these have nothing to do with improvements to graduate student life. He did not
view those institutions as serving as suitable role models for what the University is seeking to

Mr. Samalin noted that Mr. Diermeier’s response was not relevant to the substance of Mr. Ford’s
remarks, which had been about the disavowal of a valid process that the University itself had

Mr. Diermeier replied that the University had previously made its position quite clear, in
presentations to the Council and in writing, that it was contesting the legality of the election. He
added that there were good reasons for doing so, although he also understood that some may
disagree with this course of action. Setting aside the legal issues, which are the province of Mr.
Stamatakos and his colleagues in the Office of Legal Counsel, he stated the administration’s
position that the future of graduate education at the University and elsewhere should be faculty
driven. It was his view that the introduction of collective bargaining would significantly alter the
nature of the faculty-student relationship. He added that federal law understands the role of workers
and managers, but not students and faculty, and as such this represents a bad regulatory structure.
He observed that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a highly politicized body, and
expressed his earlier hope that this matter could have been decided by the courts, but this had not
been possible because of the strategies by the union.

Ms. Bernstein concurred that a great deal of frustration existed. She felt that this was now becoming
a question of the principle of unionization, and that it had moved beyond whether a specific change
in graduate education would be made or not. She shared her own belief that the University’s

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
response had been the right one, but was uncertain as to whether this would be satisfying to the
students. She also noted that the student’s angst appeared to be exacerbated by the concern about
their future, what would await them as journeymen teachers She concurred that there were a lot of
reasons for students to be concerned with their future and the state of graduate education, although
she felt that this did not automatically lead to unionization as the answer. She then posed the
question as to how to deal with the boiling emotions and rage that many students are currently

Ms. Hadley thought that it minimizes graduate students to construe the current situation as being
an expression of unhappiness or frustration. She characterized graduate students as being very
astute. She also noted that she had spent considerable time with a number of students who were
centrally involved with the union, and described them as having a very cogent interpretation that
did not veer significantly from Mr. Diermeier’s account of the larger structural economy that is
bearing down on them. However, she felt that his account of the finances was a curated one that
did not take into account some of the changes taking place more broadly on campus, to which
students were also responding.

Ms. Hadley then referenced Mr. Diermeier’s earlier assertion that the faculty would lose control if
collective bargaining was introduced. She stated her own belief that the faculty had already lost
control, because they have had virtually no input into conversations regarding whether the
University should recognize the union, nor had there been any organized discussions across the
faculty regarding unionization. She applauded the efforts that are now underway to accomplish
some of the recommendations of the CGE’s final report, but pointed out that this was a different
issue. She believed that there is a question of faculty governance around which there should be a

Mr. Diermeier asked Ms. Hadley to expand further on her view that his account of the finances had
been curated. Ms. Hadley clarified that she was not suggesting that the numbers were wrong. She
then referenced changes in the University’s structure, including in relation to faculty governance.
She observed that faculty currently have a lot less say and input than they used to, adding that they
are not privy to the specifics of financial information, so it is necessary to accept on faith the
summarized versions that are presented to them. She wished to be clear that she was not suggesting
that Mr. Diermeier was lying to the faculty. She then noted that budgets can be interpreted in many
ways, and indicated that it would be desirable to have more comprehensive information.

Mr. Diermeier responded that the best available comprehensive analysis of improving graduate
education was a 2011 report by the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He indicated that
the order of magnitude of the University’s numbers, which are in the process of being finalized,
was comparable to what was discussed in the Yale report. He suggested that a link to this report be
distributed to Council members. [Secretary’s note: the average cost per student according to the
Yale report was about (in 2019 dollars) $160,000 in humanities, $140,000 in social sciences, and
$20,000 in the natural sciences.]

Mr. Diermeier also recalled that Ms. Hadley had made a similar point regarding faculty governance
several years earlier. He then outlined a process that he believed to represent a great example of
faculty governance, and invited those who disagreed to explain their reasoning. He referenced the
existence of ongoing faculty-led processes around graduate education, including time to graduation

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
and funding, that are taking place within the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions and the
Divinity School, and highlighted these efforts as being exemplary. He again suggested that the
inclusion of the graduate student perspective would have been a good idea. He saw this as an
example of faculty governance at its finest, in that these committees are looking at problems that
are real and reaching consensus around new policies and implementing new initiatives.

Ms. Hadley remarked that there was nothing wrong with this, but suggested that Mr. Diermeier had
selected a particular example that followed a certain model. She noted that some faculty members
who have concerns about faculty governance are interested in having a better understanding of the
selection process for those committees. She thought it would be useful for the University to provide
an accounting of how faculty members are appointed to these committees, and to assess whether
there is a better way of representing the faculty more broadly on University- and divisional-level
committees. While she thought that this was an honorable process overall, she felt that the
membership of these committees seemed to be highly curated. Mr. Diermeier indicated that he
would find out more about how the divisions were constituting these committees.

Mr. Kremer referenced the earlier discussion regarding Harvard and Columbia Universities, and
the University’s desire to not pursue the same path being followed by those institutions. To him, it
was not desirable for the University to continue along its current path, and predicted that there could
be a long strike here in the future, which would be a very disruptive event for the entire institution.
Speaking as a Chair, he noted that during the recent three-day strike he had seen fissures begin to
develop within his department. He anticipated that in the future, these could ultimately involve
different combinations of constituencies and create much dissatisfaction, with lasting repercussions.
While he concurred that what was happening at Columbia and Harvard was not ideal, he was also
not convinced that the situation would be any better here, and this was a matter of great concern to
him. He thought that there was a relatively costless way that the University could solve this
problem, by recognizing GSU.

Mr. Diermeier inquired as to why Mr. Kremer believed that recognition of GSU would be relatively
costless. Mr. Kremer responded that the cost of not doing so would be higher. He highlighted the
importance of the context provided earlier by Mr. Ford, and observed that the events of the last two
years had poisoned relationships between graduate students and the administration. He commented
that regardless of the amount of good that the University can do for them, graduate students had
little reason to trust the administration, particularly after they had been told earlier by the Provost’s
Office that their voice would matter in the decision making process, and then they were shown that
it did not. His sense was that from the graduate students’ point of view, they had been lied to.

Mr. Diermeier recalled that there had been months-long debates that had clarified the issues, and
noted that the administration had never stated that the University would accept a vote in favor of
unionization. Mr. Kremer asked how the graduate students’ voice had mattered. Mr. Diermeier
replied that those who voted had expressed their opinions. He added that the graduate students’
voice can matter in many different ways, but in this particular case, it would have been problematic
for the University to recognize the union simply as a result of this vote. He then observed that there
could be disagreement around this point.

Ms. Grove inquired as to why the administration felt that the election was in some way illegitimate,
and not conducted properly. Mr. Diermeier responded that he did not say this, and asked Mr.

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
Stamatakos to provide additional legal context.

Mr. Stamatakos explained that the purpose of filing an election petition with the NLRB is to have
it oversee a fair and democratic process that would yield an outcome. When that outcome is tallied,
the NLRB certifies the union, if it receives a majority vote. He noted that this has great significance
under labor law, and the collective is then represented by the union for the purpose of negotiating
the terms and conditions of employment. In this particular instance, GSU, along with its affiliates
(AFT and AAUP), had chosen to withdraw their successful election petition, an act that was
essentially a disavowal of its legal status as a union and a rejection of the process. He described
this as being strictly a strategic decision, adding that it was common practice for lawyers on all
sides to engage in strategic moves.

Ms. Grove asked whether the approval of the NLRB is required in order for a union to be formed.
Mr. Stamatakos replied that the NLRB’s approval is necessary in order for an employer to be
compelled to recognize a union.

Mr. Warren sought to clarify why the GSU representatives had to submit a petition for recognition
after the election, and inquired as to why there had not been simple recognition of the union instead.
He questioned whether GSU was responding to the University’s refusal of recognition, or whether
this was an inevitable process.

Mr. Stamatakos explained that there are two processes for entering into a legally-binding collective
bargaining relationship. The predominant path involves certification following an election, and the
rules around this are very clear. The other approach is voluntary recognition, which is what is
currently being sought. He indicated that GSU and its affiliates had chosen not to pursue the legal
pathway, and was instead seeking to put pressure on the institution to compel voluntary recognition.
He explained that employers have the latitude under the law to voluntarily recognize a labor union,
and there are many strategic considerations that go into what that looks like, such as the composition
of the bargaining unit at that point.

Mr. Huizinga inquired as to why GSU and its affiliates had chosen the latter pathway. Mr.
Stamatakos surmised that they did not want the Republican-dominated NLRB to take up the
fundamental question of law, which is whether the predominant relationship that graduate research
and teaching assistants have with their university, in that capacity, is an economic and financial
one, or an educational one. He added that when the NLRB has been controlled by the Republicans,
this relationship has been considered to be an educational one, whereas during the administration
of former President Barack Obama, the NLRB had held the opposite view in the case involving
Columbia University. Given the current situation, he indicated that labor unions have not wished
for this matter to come before the Republican-controlled NLRB, due to concerns that the outcome
was preordained.

Mr. Samalin asked why this matter had to go back to the NLRB. Mr. Diermeier replied that the
administration believes, as a foundational matter, that graduate student unionization is a bad idea,
and the University’s view is that its relationships with graduate students are fundamentally
educational. Mr. Samalin described this as an ideological position. Mr. Diermeier countered that it
was reflective of the University’s commitment to its graduate students, and if others chose to
interpret this as an ideological position, he was fine with that, and would continue to own his

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
position on this matter.

With respect to the faculty governance issue that was raised, Mr. Warren noted that Mr. Diermeier’s
response had centered on the question or nature of the relationships between faculty and graduate
students with respect to unionization. Mr. Diermeier concurred. Mr. Warren pointed out that this
matter had never been put to the faculty as a question, adding that he did know how people would
decide on this. He added that the question of University recognition of the union had not been
brought to the Council as a body or as representatives of the faculty at large, and he interpreted this
as a reflection that the administration did not view this as a matter of faculty governance.

Mr. Diermeier saw this as a different question around governance, around which there could be a
separate conversation.

It struck Mr. Warren that the point of this meeting was the administration’s response to
unionization, not the pros and cons of unionization itself. He referenced a recent email from Mr.
Diermeier regarding GSU’s decision to withdraw its petition, and indicated that it had been
incomplete in its description of the context within which GSU had acted. He described this message
as having created the impression that somehow GSU had been deficient in seeing the process
through to its end. He noted that this had not been the case, and that GSU had been responding to
the tactical responses of this institution’s administration.

Mr. Diermeier queried whether it was being suggested that he, as Provost, should have sent an email
to the faculty indicating that in his view, GSU had withdrawn its petition as a tactical maneuver.
Mr. Warren replied that it was being suggested that the administration admit to its own tactical

Mr. Foote noted that after consulting various emails and perusing GSU’s website, he was still
confused as to who it was purporting to represent, and why. Mr. Diermeier replied that this was
not known. Mr. Foote pointed out that about 1,400 graduate students had voted in favor of the
action, which is a tiny minority of the entire graduate student population within the University. Mr.
Diermeier explained that once GSU withdrew its petition, the bargaining unit no longer existed.

Mr. Kendrick found it ironic that the only reason he was able to attend this meeting was because of
what the NLRB has defined as graduate student labor, that is, his teaching assistants were proctoring
a final examination in one of his courses. He then highlighted two earlier discussions of graduate
student unionization within the Council, which had taken place on October 31, 2017 and November
28, 2017. He indicated that these were the discussions that got the ball rolling, and added that the
Minutes of those meetings contain summaries of those dialogues. He thought it was right that the
question of graduate student unionization had come to the front and center of this discussion. He
referenced Mr. Stamatakos’s description of the process, and added that by withdrawing the AFT
case before the NLRB, the actual current NLRB position in 2016 is that graduate students are indeed
workers, and as such, they have a right to organize and vote for a union. The withdrawal of the
petition has not changed their ontological status. He noted that what has been seen on this campus,
in small and large ways, suggests that whatever the bargaining unit might be, there is strong support
for that position.

Mr. Kendrick then mentioned that voluntary recognition can be certified by a number of different

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
ways legally, such as the original vote of a bargaining unit to form a union, the overwhelming vote
for a job action, or, in the future, by passing around authorization cards. He thought that all of these
options represent a different, and better, way forward. He then closed his remarks by referencing
the November 28, 2017 Council Minutes, during which the extent of problems had been conveyed
by Mr. Diermeier. He quoted a Councilor’s remarks, by permission, as follows:

“He [the Councilor] felt that … the University could view this [recognition] as an
opportunity to improve not only the morale of graduate students, but also the situations of
their work, and the labor that they perform. He thought that if the University pursued
negotiations right now, the effect upon morale would be a first step towards helping resolve
the sheer problems and distrust that Mr. Diermeier described so eloquently, which he
believed to be a top priority for the institution … rather than following a strategy of waiting
for the NLRB … [t]his approach would be in line with the University’s traditions, and also
that which the graduate students are asking of this institution.”

Mr. Wedemeyer returned to the question of faculty governance. He recalled that in 2012, there had
been a dispute regarding the proper legislative authority of the Council, and the administration had
commissioned the Deans to write a statement on their behalf, outlining their interpretation of the
Statutes. He then quoted from the Deans’ May 10, 2012 letter:

“… a fair reading of the Statutes indicates that the Council’s legislative powers involve the
educational work of the University – specifically those matters that relate to the teaching
activities or functions of the University and which either (1) affect more than one Ruling
Body or (2) which substantially affect the general interest of the University.”

He then highlighted Mr. Diermeier’s earlier statement that the graduate student unionization
question was an educational matter, i.e. one relating to teaching. Based on the assertions of the
administration’s own decanal committee and its interpretation of the Statutes, along with the many
administration statements made now and by its representatives in court, it seemed very clear to Mr.
Wedemeyer that in consequence, the final arbiter of whether the union should be recognized was
the Council of the University Senate.

Mr. Diermeier stated that this was not the case, and referenced the Report of the 2012 Committee
on Faculty Governance, chaired by Robert Pippin, which had specifically looked at the question of
the Council’s jurisdiction. He noted that this too was a separate conversation. Mr. Wedemeyer
replied that then-Provost Thomas Rosenbaum had commissioned the Deans to prepare their
statement. He also shared his own view that the Pippin Report has no standing whatsoever. Mr.
Diermeier indicated that there could be a separate discussion of this in the future, one that would
include the participation of President Zimmer. Mr. Wedemeyer remarked that he wished to get his
statement on the record, and to him, it seemed to be very clear that the administration has laid out
premises that unmistakably spoke to the Council’s authority regarding this matter.

Mr. Margoliash wished to recommend two courses of action that he described as being brave. The
first entailed an admission to the students regarding the University’s failure to respond earlier. He
did not recall that the University had previously done this, and he thought there was no reason not
to say that although the institution was committed to addressing these issues, it had failed to do so
earlier, when it could and should have done so. He expressed uncertainty as to how helpful this

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
would be, but felt that this would demonstrate a deeper sense of the University’s commitment and
intent. His second suggestion involved polling the faculty, to find out more about the distribution
of opinions regarding graduate student unionization. He then conveyed his own personal view that
unionization was a bad idea, but acknowledged that many faculty feel otherwise. He thought it
would be useful for the Council to have a sense of what the faculty think, and if there was, in fact,
a very strong opinion across large parts of the campus that unionization represented an appropriate
direction to pursue, if nothing else, this should inform the conversation. However, if the sentiment
in favor of unionization was scattered and weakly supported, this would also inform the
conversation. He characterized this as being a brave step to take, because it was unknown as to
how the results would turn out, but he thought this would be a very useful exercise.

Ms. Clemens mentioned that years ago, there was a website that had been available to Deans and
Chairs, which had included information regarding the experiences at other campuses. At that time,
the administration’s message had centered around concerns regarding the potential for damage to
be done to the fabric of the University community. She then noted that the Council had now heard
eloquent statements, such as the remarks by Mr. Kremer, that had referenced the possibility of
creating a toxic and divisive atmosphere on campus in the future. She noted that Mr. Ford had
pointed to the right issue, which is one of legitimacy. She was curious as to the alternative theory
of the legitimacy of a non-union response, adding that what has transpired so far may have been
tone-deaf to optics.

Ms. Clemens also articulated concerns about the design of a grievance structure that would be
directly controlled by the Provost’s Office, noting that this also posed questions regarding
legitimacy. While observing that both sides were dug in on the issue of recognition, she thought it
would be possible to think about “small-r” responsiveness to some of the students’ concerns.

Mr. Diermeier agreed, and shared his view that the best outcomes are achieved as a result of ongoing
conversations and working through difficulties. He commented that these issues are not trivial, and
are very complicated. In his experience, progress is achieved by working through issues in detail.
He again noted his own sense of optimism, and highlighted the work of the CGE as well as the
efforts of the working groups within the various units. He also underscored the value of
incorporating graduate student participation in these efforts, and continuing to work through these
issues over the next few months and perhaps longer. He observed that this would take time, and
referenced the University’s highly decentralized structure of doctoral education.

Mr. Diermeier then highlighted a bigger issue around the sense of frustration felt by students. Ms.
Hadley attributed this to the absence of recognition of the graduate student union as being
legitimate. Mr. Diermeier believed that there were other factors, including quality of life
considerations relating to insufficient resources and feelings of uncertainty, and he viewed this
sense of frustration as being totally understandable. He also completely agreed that these issues
should have been addressed 20 years ago. He identified the area of disagreement as being the
question of the right path forward. He indicated that he had laid out how a participatory faculty-
led process, with significant student input and involving a serious commitment to addressing the
issues, had worked very well in many other contexts, and represented the right path forward in this

Dr. Lindau asked whether there was any indication that interest in the University of Chicago as a

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
place for graduate study had been affected by unionization issues over the past couple of years. Mr.
Diermeier replied that there had been no such indication. Ms. Hadley mentioned that this was not
the case within the English Department. Mr. Diermeier pointed out that numbers of applications
for admission, as well as yield, had increased across the board. Dr. Lindau then inquired as to
whether any faculty had resigned in protest, and Mr. Diermeier confirmed that this had not occurred.

Ms. Lear seconded the point raised by Ms. Clemens, both as a substantive recommendation and in
connection with Mr. Ford’s observation about the administration’s claim that students would be
part of the decision-making process, which had not happened. While her own view was that
unionization was a bad idea, she agreed that it was problematic that this claim had been made. She
also echoed Ms. Clemens’s suggestion for implementation of a different mechanism for choosing
members of the grievance committee.

Mr. Diermeier responded that he had no problem with the latter suggestion. Mr. Merchant added
that the graduate student members of the grievance committee had been selected by the Graduate
Council from a pool of volunteers, and had not been selected by the Provost’s Office.

Ms. Lear expressed understanding, and clarified that she was not implying that anything had been
done wrong, but rather was suggesting a possible means for moving forward. She then spoke of
the need for greater clarity around the status of the teaching that graduate students provide. She
noted that on the one hand, there has been a reduction in the amount of teaching that graduate
students do, and concurred that it was necessary for graduate students to gain teaching experience,
as this was training that was essential to their future ability to obtain jobs. On the other hand, she
pointed out that this teaching is often referenced as being something that graduate students provide
in return for their stipends. She thought that this should not be said, if it is believed that teaching
is part of graduate students’ education, as opposed to an economic transaction. She explained that
this was not just about rhetoric, but rather about how departments think about the issue of teaching
that is being required. She mentioned that the Humanities Division was adding a sixth year of
funding for its Ph.D. students, and yet many programs are required to add teaching. She inquired
as to the nature of that teaching, and whether it would consist of stand-alone teaching or service as
a course assistant. She raised the possibility of polling the faculty, to find out whether they wish to
think of their students as workers. She observed that there are a number of issues that need to be
thought through more carefully if there is a serious belief that teaching is part of graduate students’
education, including their role in the undergraduate program as a whole.

Mr. Diermeier expressed total agreement with the views stated by Ms. Lear.

Mr. Simon concurred that teaching is part of graduate education. He then referenced the
University’s diversity, and noted that in fields within the physical and biological sciences, teaching
is one of the career options available to students. He also raised the matter of research
assistantships, which he described as being even more nebulous. He shared his understanding that
a number of graduate students had complaints regarding health care for families, housing, and lack
of definition of their duties. He viewed these as problems that, independent of unionization, could
be addressed, in an effort to restore confidence in the relationships between faculty and students.

Mr. Diermeier noted the existence of a larger context, adding that a lot of different issues had been,
and would continue to be, put on the table. He emphasized that that there are concrete steps that

The Council of the Senate, 06.11.19
can, and should, be undertaken by the administration, departments, and programs in order to make
progress. To him, the decentralized nature of the University’s doctoral programs was a great asset,
and he spoke of the need for a structured approach, cautioning against being driven by demands
that come from undergraduate teaching. He observed that getting this right is complicated, because
of the extent to which people were accustomed to how the present system works. Rethinking this,
in ways that decouple funding and teaching decisions, seemed to him to be the right approach, and
he spoke of the importance of achieving a level of clarity and intentionality that supports different

In concluding the meeting, Mr. Diermeier indicated that this discussion would continue, in a manner
that incorporates many different perspectives. He understood that not everyone was in agreement
on these matters, and encouraged everyone, while this debate is underway, to move forward with
the work that will advance the efforts being undertaken within the specific programs, irrespective
of the bigger differences in points of view. He then thanked everyone for attending today’s special
meeting, wished everyone a great summer, and adjourned the meeting at 3:04 p.m.

Carol E. Wilinski
Secretary of the Faculties

October 17, 2019

Spokesperson’s Report - October 8, 2019
Committee of the Council
Na’ama Rokem

Present: Robert Zimmer (President), Daniel Diermeier (Provost), Erin Adams, Clifford Ando,
Peggy Mason, Na’ama Rokem, Robert Rosner, Haresh Sapra, Carol Wilinski (Secretary of the

Guests: Daniel Abebe (Vice Provost), Jason Merchant (Vice Provost), Beth Niestat (Executive
Director, UChicagoGRAD Administration and Policy), Beth Noonan (Executive Director,
UChicagoGrad Experience)

The first meeting of the Committee for the academic year was devoted in its entirety to the issue
of graduate education, in the wake of the report of the University Committee on Graduate
Education last year. The first part of the meeting was devoted to reports on actions taken in
response to specific issues raised in the report, beginning with the effort to share data with
prospective and current students. Information about admissions, enrollment, time to degree,
attrition, and job placement is now available on the Provost’s website. Currently, prospective
students (and anyone else) can download it in the form of individual pdfs (per
department/program) but Beth Niestat and her team are looking for ways to make the information
more interactive, so that prospective students can find exactly what they’re looking for. Jason
Merchant noted that this is now one of the most frequently downloaded documents on the website.
It was noted that some but not all departments were posting the information on their websites and
wondered whether this should be mandated. Merchant then briefly presented the work of a number
of committees that were formed in response to the report. The Grievance Committee is reviewing
grievance procedures across different units and weighing the possibility of formalizing a university
wide grievance policy. The Housing and Transportation Committee has been collecting
information and surveying students as to their needs and wishes. Finally, the committee on student
spaces on campus continues its work, after locating some spaces that now serve students.

The Provost then spoke to issue of problems with payments to students. The university has
commissioned an audit to get a better picture of the problem, which seems to stem largely from
the decentralized financial system. In general, our financial system is severely dated and a new
one is coming within a few years, which should make all of this much easier to deal with. It is also
very important to improve the communication with students around issues of late payments.
Another issue that has been dealt with in a highly decentralized manner is lab injuries, but this is
now being systematized as a matter of occupational health and safety (rather than workers’ comp).
Brooke Noonan reported on a committee overseen by Vice Provost Melissa Gilliam to look at
issues of food insecurity among students. The committee is conducting qualitative interviews in
order to gain better understanding of the points at which insecurity emerges. UChicagoGRAD is
also promoting various resources, such as peer advice on frugal living in Chicago/Hyde Park, tax
information sessions, meal plans and distribution of nutritious snacks.

Finally, the Provost presented a new framework for funding students (which was then promptly
shared in a community wide email and received some press coverage later in the same afternoon).
The new funding model, which currently applies to Social Science Division, Humanities Division,
Divinity, and, to some extent, SSA, is meant to address issues that emerged from the report of the
Committee on Graduate Education, first and foremost the issue of long times to degree and late
attrition. An important finding of the report was that the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) program
did not make enough of a difference in this regard. Furthermore, the academic job market is
changing, and we must ask ourselves what it is that students are being trained for. The new funding
model is designed to eliminate some of the challenges that were preventing students from
completing their programs, such as the “cliff” at the end of their funding, at which point they enter
a cycle of overemployment in teaching and other para-academic work, which is preventing them
from finishing their dissertations. In addition to providing students with full funding for the
duration of their time in the program, the new model comes with renewed emphasis on mentoring
and pedagogical training. The Provost noted that the Humanities Division has been spearheading
this effort, by transforming the teaching requirements for graduate students and formalizing
departmental mentoring plans. The university will invest in resources for both PhD students and
faculty, including career support (for both academic and non-academic career tracks), postgraduate
teaching opportunities, mentoring resources (building on some of the successes in this field in the
Biological Sciences Division, including models of cascading mentorship), and a new emphasis on
recruiting and retaining a diverse student body. By capping the number of students enrolled in
different units at any given time, the new program aims to give programs a sense of ownership of
their students and of their graduate programs as a whole.

The presentation of this new funding model was punctuated by questions from committee members
and followed by a brief discussion. One question was whether the current model of the teaching
fellowships was helping students on the job market – there is very little data to go on. It would be
great if we could set up some kind of exchange program with other institutions, providing our
students with opportunities to teach elsewhere (based on the ACLS program from about a decade
ago). Another committee member spoke to the importance of fundraising for graduate programs,
and to do outreach to our graduates who have ended up in industry. President Zimmer responded
by emphasizing that it is much easier to fundraise for undergraduate students. It was noted that this
new model would be difficult to implement in the Physical Sciences Division, where there is a
need to staff courses that are not always aligned with the pedagogical needs of graduate students.
The Provost responded that the PSD raises its own complications, which is why the program is
currently not being implemented there and that looking into how to implement this in the PSD is
the next big task. The discussion concluded with accolades to the Committee on Graduate
Education, whose report laid the ground for this new funding model. It was noted how important
it was that the graduate students were represented on the committee and emphasized that it will be
important to continue to consult them as the new model is implemented, a process that will take
place gradually over the next few years.
Spokesperson’s Report - October 15, 2019
Committee of the Council
Na’ama Rokem

Present: Robert Zimmer (President), Daniel Diermeier (Provost), Erin Adams, Clifford Ando,
Kathleen Cagney, Peggy Mason, Na’ama Rokem, Robert Rosner, Haresh Sapra, Carol Wilinski
(Secretary of the Faculties)

Guests: Daniel Abebe (Vice Provost), Bridget Collier (Associate Provost for Equal Opportunity
Programs), Casey Cook (Associate Vice President, Human Resources), Melina Hale (Vice Provost),
Ivan Samstein (Vice President and Chief Financial Officer), Rita Seabrook (Senior Research
Analyst), Liam Schwartz (Assistant Vice President for Institutional Analysis)
Theodore Stamatakos (Senior Associate General Counsel)
The meeting ended with a brief follow-up discussion about the issue of graduate funding, at the
request of the spokesperson. Several committee members had comments and questions, having
had a week to absorb the information and think about it, as well as collect responses from
colleagues. Questions were raised about the rollout of the plan and how well it was explained to
faculty, about the relationship between this plan and the administration’s position on the
question of unionization, about the consequences of this plan to the health of graduate programs
in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Divinity and SSA, and about the relationship between this plan
and the potential increasing adjunctification of the University. The provost explained that a plan
like this would have been impossible to achieve in collective bargaining, and lamented the fact
that GSU did not receive the plan favorably. Since “recognition has become a moral good in itself”
some students are not able to see the benefits of the new plan. As a cautionary tale, he offered
the cases of Harvard and Columbia, where student union negotiations have hit various snags. He
clarified certain aspects of the plan – for example that students would be encouraged to continue
to seek outside funding and dissertation write up fellowships – and reminded the committee that
other aspects were still being worked out.