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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Fall 2014
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia
Tue: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Diversity & Outreach Peer:

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco
Wed: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thu: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre
Mon: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Tue: 9 a.m. to noon, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Communications Peer:
Melissa Rapp
Wed: 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Thu: 1 to 5 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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Secrets of Grad Student Success Shared at Graduate Orientation

Carol Genetti, Dean of the UCSB Graduate Division, welcomed students to Orientation and told them about annual events such as the award-winning Grad Slam. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Kyle Crocco explained his duties as Funding Peer. Credit: Patricia MarroquinFor those of you who missed the New Graduate Student Orientation, you missed a free lunch and some great cookies. You also missed out on all the secrets of how to be a successful graduate student.

So, your faithful funding peer is here to clue you in on what you missed about resources, how to live and thrive, tips from grad student pros, health advice and insurance information, Graduate Students Association (GSA) services, and peer help from the Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC).


Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti outlined four important things a grad student should do to succeed:

  1. Know the right people in your department: Your Graduate Advisor, Graduate Program Assistant (GPA), and your Research Advisor. Pick the right research advisor and be very nice to your GPA and your grad school life here will be very productive and good.
  2. Take advantage of the many Interdisciplinary Emphases offered.
  3. Become acquainted with Graduate Division services for academics, finances, and professional development.
  4. Be happy now and do things while you’re here.

Live and Thrive in Grad School

Dr. Turi Honegger talked about the importance of living a balanced life. Credit: Patricia MarroquinDr. Turi Honegger from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) talked about how to live and thrive in grad school.

Did you know that a study of Berkeley grads revealed that grad school was stressful and that 95% of students feel overwhelmed and 67% seriously depressed at some point in their grad school career.

The cure to a better grad life is to be well-balanced. But how can you be well-balanced?

Dr. Honegger offered three pillars in order to find balance:

  1. Know thyself
    • Know your motivation to be here.
    • Know your personality type.
    • Know how you like to work best.
  2. Have better relationships
    • Create Intentional Community: Cultivate a sense of community while you’re here (on campus and in Santa Barbara).
    • Choose the right advisor. It's a key to your success and happiness. Find someone to advocate for you, who has a similar personality type you can work with.
    • Find multiple mentors, not just an advisor, but peers and colleagues who can help you succeed.
    • Disprove these myths: I must do it all alone; I cannot have a social life or love life; and I can't be friends because I'm in competition with people in my program.
  3. Take time for your physical health and mental wellness
    • Make time to work out, which leads to more energy and more productivity.
    • Find your right working level: Too much work can lead to less productivity.

A panel of grad students answered questions from the audience. They are, from left: Dibella Wdzenczny (Linguistics), Lois Harmon (GGSE), Lyandra Dias (Bren), Richard Huskey (Communication), and Alex Pucher (Computer Science). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Tips from Grad Students

Five students had suggestions on how to succeed.

  • Lyandra Dias (Bren): Join the excursion club.
  • Lois Harmon (GGSE): Don’t work more than 40 hours a week, get sleep, and find your community.
  • Richard Huskey (Communication): If you can make time for work, you can make time for fun.
  • Alex Pucher (Computer Science): There are opportunities to be interdisciplinary if you want. Lifting weights at the rec center is a great way to get rid of tension.
  • Dibella Wdzenczny (Linguistics): Take advantage of CAPS, schedule time to sleep, and go to the farmers market.

Credit: Patricia MarroquinHealth

Mary Ferris, M.D., the UCSB Student Health Executive Director, gave an overview of the services at the UCSB Health Center. She pointed out that all services are confidential; many grad student health problems such as repetitive stress syndrome and eye strain are preventable; and you should get to know your clinician, so you can form a better relationship and have better health. She also gave an overview of Gaucho Health Insurance, which:

  • Covers services worldwide
  • Has a $300 annual deductible
  • Provides 85% coverage for hospitalization and professional services
  • Charges a $5 co-pay at the pharmacy for generic prescriptions, and provides free contraception
  • Has no annual or lifetime caps on benefits
  • Covers dental and vision
  • Does not charge for primary care, labs, X-ray, or urgent care
  • Provides health care nearby when closed 
  • Offers a Gateway secure logon to email for health advice, to make appointments, or order pharmacy refills.

Zach Rentz and Emma Levine of the GSA address the new students. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Graduate Students Association (GSA):

Zach Rentz, President of GSA, outlined the services GSA provides for grad students.

Drs. Robert Hamm (of the Graduate Division and the Graduate Student Resource Center) and Don Lubach (of Student Affairs) enjoy a laugh. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC)

There are several graduate peers in the GSRC office in 1215 Student Resource Building who provide workshops and one-on-one help in the following areas:

  • Funding: Kyle Crocco will show you the money: how to find it, apply for it, and spend it, if necessary.
  • Writing: Ryan Dippre will help you one-on-one with your writing and let you know that “you are a good writer and it’s all going to be OK.”
  • Professional Development: Shawn Warner-Garcia will show you how to succeed and prepare as a professional, create your professional identity, and clue you in to resources for family students.


New grad students enjoy a free lunch after Orientation. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

The post-Orientation lunch was served on the Campus Green. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Who’s New at UCSB? We Introduce You to Our Incoming Graduate Student Cohort

UCSB will soon welcome 758 new graduate students into its ranks. These incoming students are diverse in many ways, such as their ages, countries of origin, and fields of study. Here, we break down the statistics on our incoming graduate student cohort and introduce you to several of our new students. All infographics created with Piktochart.



There is an almost even split of men (51 percent) and women (49 percent) in the incoming class. Most of the students are between the ages of 20 and 30, but 10 percent of them are 31 and older. Our youngest incoming student is 20 years old, and our oldest is 65 years old.


Map creation by Patrick Hall; map template by Kevin Ross

Map template by GunnMap 

Our new graduate students are coming from 35 countries – from China to Chile, Saudi Arabia to Serbia, New Zealand to the Netherlands – representing nearly every continent. In fact, roughly one-third of incoming students (280, to be exact) are coming from places outside the U.S. Our U.S. students hail from 43 of the 50 states, but over half of them are California natives.


The most popular disciplines that our new graduate students chose were Environmental Science and Management (103 new students), Electrical and Computer Engineering (90 new students), and the Teacher Education Program (79 new students). By division, the most new graduate students are in Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences (163), followed by Education (125) and Humanities and Fine Arts (108). One-third of incoming students are pursuing a Ph.D., but a sizable number are also pursuing a Ph.D./M.A., Master of Environmental Science and Management (M.E.S.M.), Master of Science, or M.A. degree.

We asked several of our new grad students to tell us more about themselves, including what degrees they will be pursuing, their favorite things to do, and what they are looking forward to most about graduate school. Read on to find out what we learned about them.

 Fernanda has traveled around the world. She is pictured here (left to right) in Santa Barbara, Berlin, and San Francisco.FERNANDA FIGUEIREDO grew up in Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Brasília boasts the biggest urban park in the world – as well as a plethora of waterfalls, hikes, and biking trails close to the city center – so it’s only natural that Fernanda, the daughter of a biogeography and ecology professor, would go on to specialize in environmental science and conservation. Having graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Universidade de Brasília, she comes to UCSB through a Science without Borders scholarship to study geographic information systems, landscape modeling, and remote sensing in the Geography Department.

Fernanda said, “I was always interested in environmental conservation since my childhood when my parents took me to visit some National Parks and do some trips that I could see different biomes and habitats in Brazil.” She also participated in Girl Scouts as a child, where she “learned about protecting nature, [and the] importance of discipline and working in groups.” At UCSB, she hopes to become an environmental specialist and learn conservation techniques that she can take back to Brazil.

Fernanda is excited not only about the beautiful scenery in Santa Barbara but also the healthy lifestyle – including eating organic food, practicing sports, and cycling everywhere – that many adopt here. She enjoys cycling, hiking, and photography as well as music, cooking, and crafting. One of her favorite places here in the U.S. is Yosemite National Park, which she visited recently. Fernanda said that she fully expects her time here in Santa Barbara to be “awesome.”

Jennie always knows how to capture the moment.JENNIE KIM grew up in Toronto, Canada, before moving to San Diego in high school. She recently received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA, where she majored in Political Science with a concentration in international relations. She will be pursuing an M.A./Ph.D. in Political Science here at UCSB. Jennie says that her research interests are focused on international security – particularly counterterrorism and counterinsurgency.

Jennie said, “I’m looking forward to being in a new environment and starting a ‘new chapter’ of my life. I want to be able to develop close relationships with professors, as well as peers within various graduate departments at UCSB, and hopefully fulfill my dream of becoming a professor teaching in the realm of Political Science. It’s always amazing to meet individuals from all walks of life and see everyone come together to provide their own insight and wisdom about a subject he or she is passionate about.”

Not only is Jennie looking forward to the bonds she will form on campus, she is also excited to learn how to surf. “I feel like it's necessary to at least try whilst at Santa Barbara,” she said. She is already versatile in a variety of sports and activities, including archery, yoga, and hiking. “I also really enjoy cooking; my favorite dish I've made is a miso-glazed salmon.” In addition to athletics and cooking, Jennie also has her motorcycle license!

Cady throws herself headfirst into whatever she is pursuing, whether it be a particularly intense gaming session (left), a death-defying climb up the Great Wall of China (right), or one of the many crazy colors she has dyed her hair (center).CADY MCLAUGHLIN grew up in rural Ohio, where “the closest shopping mall was about a 20-minute drive and the closest big city – Pittsburg – was 45 minutes away.” She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she double majored in Modern Languages (with emphases in French and Mandarin) and Asian and Pacific Studies. At UCSB, she will be pursuing an M.A. and then a Ph.D. in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, where she will focus on issues of media and sexuality.

Cady told us about her connection to each part of her research interests. “My interest in media has no strong foundation, but rather builds from the fact that today's society is so media-heavy. [Media] impacts our daily life so heavily but still silently, so to study the change of media through time is fascinating. My interest in sexuality stems from being a queer person myself and because the strongest community I found as a new student in college was through the university GSA [Gender Sexuality Alliance]. My specific interest in studying East Asia has always been innate, even when I had no concept of the differences between the countries. Despite growing up in a heterogeneous community, whenever I found something Asian-inspired I was drawn to it – from food to language to entertainment.”

In coming to UCSB, Cady is excited to be a part of the academic community. “I was raised by a single mother who worked as a high school and college educator and I was babysat frequently by my grandparents and great-grandparents. I always loved school and I blame that on my family constantly reading to me as a child. Education has been a huge part of my life and personal identity, so to have the chance to further mine is the aspect I look forward to most.”

In her free time, Cady enjoys everything related to sci-fi and fantasy as well as video games and board games. “I'm not one to do nights out on the town and would prefer to sit at home and marathon a TV show like 'Dexter' or 'Breaking Bad.'”

Ehsan comes from a "rather tall family," as he put it; here he is stooping to get into a picture at his cousin's wedding recently.EHSAN OMIDI comes to UCSB all the way from Tehran, Iran. He earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. He will be entering the Ph.D. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in control, communication, and signal processing.

Both of Ehsan’s parents were schoolteachers, and he has always excelled in academics. Growing up, he had many of the same hobbies as his friends, including soccer, cartoons, and video games. “But,” he said, “my real hobby started when we had a computer in our home and I started programming with it. Since then, programming has been my main entertainment.” When he realized that computer programming didn’t challenge him enough, he began to study electrical engineering in order to figure out what goes on inside a computer. He also worked on his university’s robotics team in creating a simple robot that could do funny tasks such as playing with a golf ball.

Ehsan is very excited to be studying at UCSB, which is among the top 10 engineering schools in the world (Academic Ranking of World Universities). It also doesn’t hurt that Santa Barbara is, in Ehsan’s words, “totally a perfect city.” He said, “Living in an always-sunny city with beautiful landscapes wherever you look and doing your desired research is what every grad student dreams.”

Ehsan’s hobbies include soccer, violin, and chess, and he hopes to add hiking and surfing to the list when he moves to Santa Barbara.
John is always up for some fun. Here he sports a handmade feather hat for a puzzle hunt (left), soaks in the beauty of San Clemente (center), and enjoys his last day in Pittsburgh atop the number garden at Carnegie Melon (right). JOHN RETTERER-MOORE grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, and has been making his way – slowly but surely – toward more hospitable climates ever since then. He earned a Bachelor's degree with double majors in Computer Science and Discrete Math from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before deciding to pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Science in the much more mild locale of Santa Barbara.

John said that his “main research interests mostly lie in the intersection of computer science and math. I'm interested in complexity theory (studying what fundamental limits exist on our ability to compute certain things), cryptography (studying how to securely encrypt various types of messages and protect them from various types of attackers), and computational social choice (applying ideas from computer science to solve problems that arise in humanities research, like designing voting systems and dividing goods fairly).” He is excited about working with great professors to try to answer interesting research questions in the field of theoretical computer science.

John is understandably looking forward to enjoying the scenery of Santa Barbara by doing things like hiking, swimming, and reading papers on the beach. He also enjoys all kinds of gaming, including board games, card games, and computer games, and he is “definitely looking for fellow gamers at UCSB to hang out with.” At Carnegie Mellon, he competed in and also helped run a lot of puzzle hunts, and he said that he would love to start one here with some like-minded individuals.

A fervent rock music fan (some of his favorite artists are Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, and Modest Mouse), John also plays the drums and dabbles in creating mashups. (You can check out some of his mashups on YouTube.)
Shyam in his element: hiking in various locales (left, right) and visiting the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (center)SHYAM SRIRAM had a unique childhood. Born and raised near Chicago, he moved with his family to their heritage country of India when he was nine years old. He then migrated back to the U.S. after high school to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Purdue University and then a Master's degree in Political Science from Georgia State University. At UCSB, he will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science with a focus on American Politics.

In his earlier studies, Shyam’s research interests vacillated among a variety of topics, including Jewish Studies and Black Politics. Eventually, one of his professors, Dr. Robert Melson, asked him, "Shyam, is it possible that you are so interested in these other communities because they are leading you to study your own community?" From then on, Shyam began to focus his research on the area of Asian Pacific American Politics, with emphases on issues of identity, citizenship, and nationalism. Shyam is excited to work with the outstanding professors in UCSB’s Department of Political Science – particularly Dr. Pei-te Lien – and is looking forward to the interdisciplinary nature of graduate school, where he can take many classes across the curriculum.

Shyam will definitely take advantage of the natural beauty of Santa Barbara as he regularly trains for a variety of competitive athletic events, such as the Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, New Mexico, happening in March.

And, if you ask him nicely, he might even show you his tattoo of William Faulkner, which he believes is the only one of its kind in the world.

Some of our incoming graduate students enjoyed the scenic views while hiking the 7 Falls trail in Santa Barbara last week. From left to right: Stefan DuBois, Jess Perkins, Tegan Brennan, Samantha Samuelson, Aditya Dalakoti, and Sahaj Biyani. Credit: Hui Yon Kim


The Disney Life of UCSB Art History Ph.D. Student Maggie Bell

Maggie Bell at San Gimignano, Italy, this summer. Credit: Maggie BellIf Maggie Bell’s life were a movie, it would probably be a Disney film. In this film, you would see a young Maggie and her little brother go off for a year to live in Madagascar with her zookeeping parents. You would see her struggle with the French language and then get so frustrated she would bite someone. This, of course, would change her whole life.

The story of how Maggie went from her Disney-like childhood to being a sixth-year UCSB Ph.D. student in History of Art and Architecture with a concentration on the Italian Renaissance is as fascinating as Maggie is.

When I first met Maggie in the lobby of the UCen she was excited because she would be ABD in two weeks. I found her surprisingly easy to talk to and we chatted informally for almost 10 minutes about grad school, what we we’re doing, and our teaching experiences (apparently 80% of the work of a fourth-grade teacher involves keeping the students in their chairs) before getting down to the interview.

You have a BA in Art History and a minor in Linguistics. Why Linguistics?

When I was little, I lived in Madagascar for a year. I remember feeling isolated because I didn’t speak French or Malagasy. I was terrified of French school. I actually bit someone because I didn’t want to be in French class. I guess it was very important for me. When I came back to the U.S. and was a little older I started taking Spanish classes in elementary school and loved it. I took it all the way through high school. Then I thought I would major in Spanish and do a dual major with linguistics. But I became interested in other ways that people communicate with each other and one of those ways was the visual arts.

Maggie Bell with her brother and mother in Madagascar, making friends with the lemurs. Credit: Maggie Bell

How did you become interested in the visual arts?

Grad Spotlight LogoI went to Catholic school growing up, but I was never actually Catholic. Everyone else was Catholic and got to have their own rosaries, First Communion, and stuff like that. I had none of that. I felt really left out. But what I loved was all the ritual. I loved actually sitting in church. I liked that we put crowns of flowers on the Virgin Mary at certain times of the year, and covered up the statues. I think that’s part of the reason why I was interested in images. Throughout the day you would pray to different images. We would pray to the crucifix at the beginning of the day, the Virgin Mary at the end of the day, and the crucifix again before lunch. It became so much about focusing on these images even though they had no other meaning for me other than this is something important we did every day.

Is this why you got into Art History?

I always liked the visual arts. My father was an artist. I never thought about art historically before. So I tried a class on a whim because I liked art. My first class was in the Italian Renaissance and I never changed my mind since the moment I took the first class.

The interior of the frescoed hospital room that Maggie is working on right now. Credit: Maggie Bell

You study frescoes. How did you become interested in them?

The thing that I like about working on them is they’re inexorable from the site in which they’re made. The ones I studied were painted in the 15th century and they’re in this massive hospital in Siena called Santa Maria Della Scala. It was impossible to understand them without understanding the hospital or what it would have been like to be a patient there, to move through that space, to see it every day as a citizen of Siena. I think that perceptual aspect of it, more than just, say, the subject matter of the fresco or the style in which it was painted, is what was really fascinating to me. Also because it’s so challenging to address those kinds of questions.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Maggie Bell's favorite Italian meal. Credit: Maggie BellNavigating the Italian postal system in Italian. I had to mail two bottles of sparkling red wine. Yes, there is such a thing.

You have a fascinating upbringing. What is the one thing that people find most interesting about your childhood?

I think the fact that my parents were zookeepers was the most interesting thing. And the fact that when my Mom needed to take care of us but also had to go to work, my brother and I got to spend the entire day at the zoo, running around and doing whatever we wanted.

What is the one thing people would be most surprised to know about you?

The thing that people don’t know about me is that I also have a black belt in karate. It sounds cooler than it is. I got it when I was 15 and it was something that my Mom made me do. I didn’t like fighting people. I gave a kid a bloody lip once when I kicked him in the face, but I felt terrible about it. But what I did like about it was the performance aspect. 

You’re in your sixth year and about to become ABD. Any advice for incoming graduate students? Something you wish you had known?

Everything is going to be OK. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. If you miss a few readings for the seminar, you won’t be ostracized or lose your funding. Oh, and you think it’s just hard for you, but it’s hard for everyone.

Maggie making some time for her friends (and art colleagues). Credit: Maggie BellOn that note, what is your favorite thing to do to relax?

Seeing my friends is my most important hobby. It’s sad to say "hobby," because it’s an activity that makes me very happy, but I have to make an effort to do it, to find the time. I also have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I know this series is old but I love "Veronica Mars." I also watch "Bored to Death."

Finally, what do you hope to be doing when you graduate?

I want to be a tenured professor, or just a professor. I really love teaching and want to do that.


UC Santa Barbara Is Rising in the Rankings

No. 10 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Top National Public Universities? Check. UCSB’s Materials program No. 1 on the magazine’s list of top graduate and professional programs at public universities? Check. No. 11 among public universities in Washington Monthly’s National Universities Rankings? Check. No. 8 among the top 750 universities worldwide in the Leiden Rankings? Check. One of’s 25 Healthiest Colleges in America? Check. No. 24 on the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools list? Check. No. 5 among public universities on Forbes magazine's list of America's Most Entrepreneurial Universities? Check.

Credit: Patricia MarroquinIn the past couple of years, UC Santa Barbara has received a host of honors and awards, and in several cases, its rankings have risen over the previous year.

“These rankings reflect UC Santa Barbara’s remarkable strength across a wide variety of disciplines and departments,” Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall said in an Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) news release. “Excellence across the campus contributes to the interdisciplinary environment that allows us to provide our students with a deep and broad education, while stimulating innovative research and scholarship.”

Our campus truly is “soaring,” and in keeping with that spirit, OPAC has created a video, “Soaring Over UCSB.” Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of our beautiful campus in the video above. For more information about UCSB’s rankings, read the OPAC news release.

Credit: Patricia Marroquin


UCSB Makes List of 25 Healthiest Colleges in the U.S.

Credit: Patricia MarroquinUCSB has continued to add to its list of honors with an acknowledgement on the list of The 25 Healthiest Colleges in the U.S. Referencing the “natural beauty” of the campus, the well-rounded adventure programs, the active culture of campus, and the available relaxation tools offered, Greatist applauds UCSB for its all-encompassing efforts to ensure the mental and physical health of its students.

This most recent honor for UCSB is the latest in a long line of acknowledgements for its commitment to student health. UCSB has worked to make its beautiful scenery a useful tool in the busy life of a full-time student. The Labyrinth Trail on Lagoon Island, for example, allows students to both get away from the hectic world at the heart of campus and relax while also taking in the breathtaking beauty that campus has to offer. 

The beauty of campus is, of course, impossible to ignore, but UCSB has worked hard to offer more than just physical beauty to its students. UCSB’s residential dining, for example, has been working to provide students with “earth-friendly” dining for several years now. University-owned dining commons – Ortega, Carrillo, Portola, and De La Guerra – are open to graduate students both on- and off-campus.

In addition to the healthy eating options, the campus also offers mental health assistance through the Mental Health Peer Program, located in the Counseling and Psychological Services Center. The center holds de-stress workshops, and students can unwind in massage chairs, an alpha wave chamber, and a relaxation room.

The Health & Wellness program offers resources and events such as field trips and its quarterly Dog Therapy Day.

UCSB also provides its students with numerous opportunities for a valuable activity, exercise.  With intramurals, recreation program offerings, and the many exercise options offered on a daily basis at the Rec Cen, students have plenty of options for having an active, healthy lifestyle both on campus and off.

For the full list of healthiest colleges, read Greatist's "The 25 Healthiest Colleges in the U.S."


What You Need to Know About the University of California's Employment Contract Changes

Credit: cybrarian77

If you are an academic student employee at UCSB, you sign a contract that spells out the terms of your employment. Periodically, some major parts of this contract undergo revisions when the university negotiates with labor unions such as UAW 2865, which is the union that represents over 13,000 student-workers across the University of California system. The UC employment contract was updated and ratified on June 21, 2014, and included changes that directly affect many graduate students. This new contract will be in effect until June 30, 2018.

Read below for answers to some frequently asked questions.

Q: Which graduate students are affected by the contract changes?

All Academic Student Employees (ASEs) in the UC system, including Teaching Assistants, Associates, Readers, and both undergraduate and graduate tutors.

Q: Which parts of the contract affect me most as a graduate student?

Wages. Wages will increase 5% during the 2014-2015 school year, and will continue to increase each year through 2018 (though by a smaller percentage).

Appointment Notification and Appointment Security. Once an employment offer is received by an ASE, it is guaranteed. The offer should be accompanied by (1) an appointment notification letter, which states the dates hired for, number of hours, and what the pay and benefits are; and (2) a supplemental documentation checklist that details which course the ASE is assigned to and what the specific duties are. If an appointment is canceled, the university either has to reassign the ASE or pay him/her anyway.

Fee Remission. A graduate student who works at least 10 hours a week (a 25% appointment or higher) as a TA, Reader, or Tutor will be granted full remission of in-state tuition, registration fees, and health care premiums. The University has agreed to maintain the status quo with respect to providing an additional $408 per year, and more specifically $136 per quarter, of non-resident supplemental tuition remission as part of the graduate student partial fee remission benefit for qualifying students. Students who have earned partial fee remission as an ASE and have been assessed non-resident supplemental tuition in the same quarter will be provided the $136 credit.

Workload. ASEs are entitled to wages for all duties related to the appointment, including reading the course material, attending lectures, preparing for discussion, attending required training classes, and answering student emails. ASEs cannot be asked to work more hours than they are being paid for. For a TA working at 50%, this means working no more than 220 total hours during the quarter, 40 hours in any given week, or 8 hours in one day.

Credit: Micah SittigChild Care Reimbursement. Any ASE working at 25% time or more is entitled to a $900 (up from $600) per quarter child care reimbursement for children up to the age of 12. This subsidy is also available for summer session. To find out more about this reimbursement, click here.

Pregnancy and Childbirth Leave. A salaried ASE shall be eligible to receive up to 6 weeks (increased from 4 weeks) of paid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions for the period prior to, during, and after childbirth. ASEs are also eligible for up to four months of unpaid pregnancy disability leave, not to exceed the end date of the ASE appointment. This runs concurrently with paid pregnancy leave. An ASE on approved long-term leave is entitled to partial fee remission and student health insurance as long as they remain otherwise eligible for this benefit of employment. Only women are eligible for this type of leave.

Newborn/New Child Bonding Leave . A salaried ASE shall be eligible to receive up to 4 weeks of paid leave to care for and bond with the ASE’s newborn child or a child placed with the ASE for adoption or foster care, provided that the leave is taken within 12 months of the birth or placement of the child with the ASE. An ASE may be approved for up to two additional weeks of unpaid leave for baby bonding. Both men and women are eligible for this leave.

Sick Leave
. Salaried ASEs employed at 50% time are entitled to two paid sick days per quarter. This leave may also be used to care for a family member. Any salaried ASE is eligible to receive up to 4 weeks of paid leave due to a serious health condition or to care for a family member who has a serious health condition. An additional 2 weeks of unpaid leave may be approved for a serious health condition.

Credit: Samir LutherNon-Discrimination Improvements. Appointment letters must now include a statement about all-gender restroom access. ASEs are guaranteed access to all-gender and ADA-compliant restrooms within accessible proximity to their workplace. If a restroom is not available, ASEs may contact the Union to fill out a request form. For a list of UCSB's gender-neutral bathrooms, click here.

Lactation Support. An ASE must be allowed time, though not during classroom time, for the purpose of expressing breast milk. ASEs shall have access to designated spaces for the primary purpose of expressing breast milk. If no such space exists in reasonable proximity to an ASE’s work location, the department/hiring unit will designate an appropriate temporary space for the purpose of expressing and storing breast milk. For more information on UCSB's Breastfeeding Support Program and to locate a lactation room on campus, click here.

Q: Where can I read the full contract?

The full revised contract may be accessed here.

Q: Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Please contact the hiring supervisor or graduate program assistant in your department with further questions.


U.S. News & World Report Ranks UCSB No. 10 on Its List of Top Public National Universities

UC Santa Barbara is among the best public universities in the nation, once again ranking highly on U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing of the “Top 30 Public National Universities.” UCSB was ranked No. 10, moving up a spot in U.S. News’ rankings. On the magazine’s list of “Best National Universities,” which includes both public and private institutions, UCSB also did well, moving up to No. 40 in a tie with Pennsylvania's Lehigh University.

The rankings are part of U.S. News’ 2015 edition of Best Colleges, which includes data on nearly 1,800 institutions nationwide. The colleges and universities are ranked on about 16 measures of academic excellence, including research, faculty resources, and commitment to instruction.

UCSB’s graduate students and the high quality of its graduate programs no doubt contributed to the top rankings. Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti was pleased but not surprised that UCSB ranked so highly.

“It is exciting to see that UCSB is again ranked within the top 10 public universities,” said Dean Genetti.  “Our recipe for success includes our highly distinguished faculty, brilliant graduate students from across the world, and remarkable undergraduates who are eager to join in the research enterprise. But especially important is our campus leadership that works to enable discovery and scholarship, and brings to fruition the creative ideas and cross-disciplinary programs that our campus is known for.”

University of California campuses dominated the top 10 list of public national universities. UC Berkeley was No. 1; UCLA placed No 2 in a tie with the University of Virginia; UC San Diego was No. 8; and UC Davis was in the No. 9 spot. UC Irvine followed closely behind UCSB at No. 11 on the public national universities list.

UCSB’s College of Engineering was also recognized, placing No. 20 among engineering schools at the nation’s public universities.

For more information, read the Office of Public Affairs’ news release, “A Top 10 University.” Also, read U.S. News’ blog article and its complete rankings.

Congratulations to UC Santa Barbara and all the other UC campuses that made this distinguished list!


Dr. David Marshall Appointed UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor; Dr. John Majewski Named Interim Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts

Two appointments have been announced recently to the UC Santa Barbara campus community. After an extensive national search, Dr. David Marshall, the Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and Professor of English and Comparative Literature, has been named UCSB’s next Executive Vice Chancellor, effective September 15. Dr. John Majewski, Associate Dean in the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts and a Professor of History, has been appointed Interim Dean of the Division.

Below are the messages to the campus community from Chancellor Henry T. Yang:


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Dear Colleagues:

Dr. David MarshallI am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David Marshall as our next Executive Vice Chancellor, effective September 15, 2014, pending appropriate UC Office of the President and Regental approvals.

This appointment is the result of an extensive national search. I am grateful to our search advisory committee, chaired by Professor Joel Michaelsen, for its diligent work, thoughtful advice, wisdom, and vision. The members of the committee are listed below. I would also like to thank our Academic Senate colleagues and all the members of our campus community who provided important consultation, input, and advice throughout this search process.

Dr. Marshall is currently our Michael Douglas Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, and Professor of English and Comparative Literature. He has provided outstanding leadership for our campus during his 16 years as Dean. From 2005 to 2012, he served as the first Executive Dean of our College of Letters and Science, overseeing the transition from a Provost model to a new governance model in which the Council of Deans leads the College. Dean Marshall helped to ensure that this model was defined and developed in such a way that all of the L&S Divisions could thrive and develop to their full potential within the contexts of a cohesive College and our campus’s interdisciplinary and collaborative environment. Representing the College on a variety of campus committees, he worked closely with the Academic Senate through the L&S Faculty Executive Committee. He helped to create COLLABORATE, the Instructional Technology Enhancement Initiative. In all of his positions, Dean Marshall has served as an ambassador and advocate for the College and for our entire campus, working tirelessly with all of our colleagues to advance UC Santa Barbara.

Dean Marshall’s history of service to our campus and the UC system is both broad and deep. He has served on the Chancellor’s Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy; the Campus Planning Committee; the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion; and the Board of Directors of the UC Santa Barbara Community Housing Authority, among many other committees. He is also the co-chair of the Leadership Committee of our campus’s Operational Effectiveness Initiative.

At the systemwide level, Dean Marshall has served on (since 1998) and chaired (since 2003) the UC President’s Advisory Committee on Research in the Humanities, which oversees the UC Humanities Network. He was the Principal Investigator for the $12,775,000 University of California Multi-Campus Research Program and Initiative Award for the UC Humanities Network. He also serves on the UC Education Abroad Program Governance Committee, and previously served on the Size and Shape working group of the UC Commission on the Future. Active nationally as well, he is currently the President of the National Humanities Alliance, based in Washington, D.C., which advances humanities policy in the areas of research, education, preservation, and public programs.

Dr. Marshall was a professor at Yale University from 1979 to 1997, serving as Chair of the English Department, Director of the Literature Major, Acting Chair of Comparative Literature, and Director of the Whitney Humanities Center, among other appointments. He received his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and received a Yale University Morse Fellowship. His research focuses on eighteenth-century fiction, aesthetics, and moral philosophy. His 2005 book, “The Frame of Art: Fictions of Aesthetic Experience, 1750-1815,” was awarded the 2005-2006 Louis Gottschalk Prize by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. His fourth book is in press. He also has lectured widely and published on issues in higher education and public education.

Our entire campus community owes a debt of gratitude to Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Joel Michaelsen for his outstanding leadership during this transitional time, building on the many accomplishments of former EVC Gene Lucas. We thank Professor Michaelsen sincerely for his contributions in this role and throughout his distinguished 33-year career here at UC Santa Barbara.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Marshall as our next EVC. We appreciate the vision, experience, and leadership he brings to this critically important position.


Henry T. Yang


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Dear Colleagues:

As you know, Dr. David Marshall will be relinquishing his responsibility as Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and assuming the position of Executive Vice Chancellor, effective September 15, 2014.

Dr. John MajewskiAfter consulting with Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Joel Michaelsen, Dean Marshall, and all of the department chairs in our Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, as well as with our Academic Senate, I have asked Associate Dean John Majewski to serve as Interim Dean, and I am very pleased that he has graciously agreed.

Professor Majewski joined the faculty of our UCSB History Department in 1995. Since then, he has held a number of leadership positions, including Chair of the History Department from 2009 to 2012 and Associate Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts for the last two years. He served on our Program Review Panel for five years, including three years as chair or co-chair, as well as the L&S Faculty Executive Committee and the Committee on Research.

Associate Dean Majewski has a doctorate from UCLA, where he won the Nevins Prize for the best dissertation in North American economic history awarded by the Economic History Association. His areas of specialization include United States history; American economic, social, and legal history; Southern history; and the United States Civil War. John won the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2003.

I am in the process of forming a search advisory committee so we can begin a national search for our next Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts. In the meantime, I am grateful to Dr. Majewski for agreeing to serve as Interim Dean. We thank him for assuming the responsibilities of this important role during this transitional period, and we know that his two decades of scholarship, leadership, and service on our campus will benefit us at this important time.

Finally, let me warmly thank Dean Marshall for his 16 years of dedicated service and extraordinary leadership as our Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts.


Henry T. Yang



Graduate Student in the Spotlight: 2014 Grad Slam Finalist Di Wdzenczny

Dibella Wdzenczny – but you can just call her Di (pronounced "dee") – is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Linguistics Department who studies the indigenous languages of Siberia. Di is fascinated by the extreme diversity of human language as well as its core similarities, and she is dedicated to looking at language from every possible direction. Her area of expertise is in historical linguistics, which is the study of language change over time, and she is especially interested in how cycles and patterns of language change interact with each other in the grammar of a language.

Di Wdzenczny

Di shared her passion for language documentation as a finalist in the 2014 Grad Slam, where she spoke about the possible extinction of indigenous languages in Siberia due to language assimilation. She talked about the ways in which linguists are working with community members to document and preserve heritage, culture, and linguistic diversity.

Di has a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics and Medieval Studies from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a Master's degree in Linguistics from Eastern Michigan University. While at Eastern Michigan, she also worked at the LINGUIST List, a professional communication and networking site for the worldwide community of linguists. Read on to learn more about her research and grad school experiences.

Tell us a little about your research and how you came to choose the topic.

From the very introduction of it, I was fascinated by historical linguistics and the realization that you can make educated guesses about the history of a language or language family. It was during my Master's degree program, when I was trying desperately to find a language area that I could dive into, that I started to focus on the indigenous languages of Siberia. When I had applied to Ph.D. programs, I was still in the mindset of "I'm interested in all of it – point me in a direction!" Then, in one of my morphology classes, we did an in-class exercise on a language I'd never heard of before: a Kamchatkan language called Itelmen, which is spoken in Siberia. It just grabbed me and I had to know more … and I suppose the rest is history.

What was it like to participate in the Grad Slam?

Di with fellow winner of Grad Slam Round Seven, Nate Emery. Credit: Patricia MarroquinIt was fabulous. There was definitely adrenaline and electricity in the room at all rounds, and it was admirable how many grad students wanted to give it a shot. Grad students tend to have a reputation as shut-ins and occasionally socially stunted, but it was clear that lots (if not most) of us are active, happy people who truly love our work and really want to tell the world about it.

And, of course, one of the best parts was getting to the finals alongside my fellow colleague and friend in the Linguistics Department, Don Daniels. Back when I was applying to different graduate programs, a big part of my decision to come to UCSB was because of the work Don was able to do here and how happy he was with the program. For both of us to be in the Grad Slam finals felt like a huge success.

What has been a source of motivation or drive for you in your graduate studies?

Di in the Kamchatka region of Russia with her friend and colleague Tatiana, who is part of the Itelmen community and also a Ph.D. student.I'm pretty self-motivated, so aiming for that "next big thing" is always good. I'm just generally the type where I'm never quite satisfied with anything I do, so I'm always out to do it better or take it to the next step.

I also feel motivated out of gratitude for the women linguists who have come before me. They were the ones who, back in the day, were fighting the good fight for equality (and some of their stories are stomach-turning), and I'm very lucky to be able to have an immensely easier time following in their footsteps. Several female linguists – such as Sally Thomason, Claire Bowern, Marianne Mithun, and Carol Genetti – have been brilliant mentors to me and I owe it to them to excel the best I can.

What do you like most about grad school and what do you like least?

I enjoy the encouragement to explore the best. I find myself constantly curious, and it’s not only encouraged but supported by our faculty. Seeing some little thought you had that started as "Huh, that’s funny" turn into a published paper is immensely satisfying.

As for my least favorite thing … well, it's nothing that doesn't come with the station. The UC-wide standard fellowship and TA pay is rough living in the Santa Barbara-Goleta area, and the stress can really be a killer. A little bit of stress can be a great motivator, but there’s a fine line between that and when it's unbearable and you want to do nothing but eat ice cream and watch Netflix. Santa Barbara may be expensive, but at least we have McConnell's.

Tell us a little about your upbringing and childhood interests.

One of Di's favorite things about Detroit (besides the sports, of courseǃ) is Detroit music, such as Motown. Hitsville U.S.A., where the Motown Museum is located, chronicles the history of the Motown sound, which started in Detroit and paved the way for everything from disco, funk, and a lot of modern hip hop. Credit: Chris ButcherI'm a second-generation American from Detroit. My family have mostly been autoworkers, and I was the second person in my entire family to get a college degree, and once I get my Ph.D., I'll have the highest degree in my family. That being said, I absolutely love (what used to be) American car culture, and I had jobs restoring cars before I went to college.

As a kid, I was super artistic; I have a natural talent for drawing and I was also musically inclined, but my family definitely had a particular academic destiny set for me, so I was only allowed to take those artistic interests so far. Now that I'm on my own, however, I've grown back into them.

Is there any particular event or events that had a big impact or influence on you and helped shape who you are today?

Well, not to get grim, but probably one of the biggest-impact events in my life was the car accident that completely crushed the left side of my body when I was 16. Having to deal with the aftermath of that accident certainly gave me a better sense of humor about life and made me contemplate things I'd previously taken for granted.

I was told for a long time that my bones would never heal entirely after the accident, but I got a second opinion and "Humpty Dumpty" was put back together post-haste. Although I still have a fair share of permanent injuries, I realized my recovery was entirely in my hands at that point, and that was when I took up dance. I started with hip hop and jitting (a native Detroit style of footwork dance), and moved on to ballet, ballroom, and everything else. I'd uncovered something I realized I couldn’t live without, and it taught me a lot about drive and overcoming obstacles and that all of this was up to me. The experience also taught me that you never really do anything without someone else's help.

What are some of your current hobbies and favorite things to do?

Di in costume for a traditional Tibetan dance performance in 2013. Credit: Sino West Performing Arts

I generally love to be outside and to just walk around, and Santa Barbara is a pretty nice place to do both those things. Dancing is also a wonderful retreat from working hard at a computer for most of the day. I'm not sure what's scarier – performing on stage or giving a presentation at a big conference. On stage, you don't get PowerPoints, but you also don't have people watching who might hold your career in your hands either.

Name an accomplishment you are most proud of and why.

I don’t know if "proud" is the correct word, but it was one that certainly meant a lot to me personally. The first time I performed en pointe (in ballet pointe shoes) was huge to me, because it gave me the sense that I'd truly recovered physically and mentally from my car accident, and it represented a lot of hard work and determination.

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Naturally, Di's favorite animal is the Siberian tiger. Credit: Tom Bayly

Outside of the obvious things (go to conferences, network, get published, etc.) there’s three things: socialize, get some exercise, and find a hobby outside of your research (a combination of this one plus either of the other two is super bonus points). The people in your lab/cohort are your peers, and they're in the same spot as you are most of the time. They can be a fabulous support network if you let them. And other grad students too! Meet people at Grad Slam, or the Happy Hours, etc. We're social creatures – I know not everyone is an extrovert, but we all benefit from some type of socializing. Plus, it stops you from stress overload. (If you do have stress overload, go to CAPS. It's a free counseling resource for UCSB students and they're fabulous.) Having an interest outside your research reminds you (and others, frankly) that you're a whole human being. Whether it's growing vegetables or MMA cage fighting, something that's not your work is a mind massage and always makes you more productive. I'm sure I don't have to explain "get some exercise" – everyone knows those benefits. Even an evening stroll across campus or on the beach can be a breath of fresh air (literally and metaphorically). Because endorphins and all that. And if you’re in a position to be able to, I suppose, get a pet. Caring for another creature is such a satisfying experience, and they're proven stress-reducers. Plus, they can help you get exercise and socialize! Hooray!


UCSB’s Grad Programs Help It Earn No. 15 Spot on 2014 List of Washington Monthly’s Top 100 National Universities

UC Santa Barbara has been ranked No. 15 on a list of Top 100 National Universities, leaping seven spots from last year, and once again, the university’s excellent graduate education programs and research played a significant role in this recognition.

Washington Monthly magazine, which released its annual 2014 National Universities Rankings this week, ranked the institutions based on their contributions to the public good in three categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students); Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.s); and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). The magazine, which takes into consideration what the schools are doing for their students and the country, describes its list as “a different kind of college ranking.” Its rankings are unlike other national lists such as the one compiled by U.S. News & World Report, which places importance on such factors as a university’s financial endowment, admissions selectivity, and academic reputation.

UCSB joined seven other University of California campuses on the Top 100 list. UC San Diego was No. 1 on the list for the fifth time. UC President Janet Napolitano said: “For four of our campuses to be ranked in the top five and for UC San Diego to be ranked No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year is a significant achievement. All eight of the UC campuses that were ranked in the top 100 institutions deserve heartfelt congratulations from the entire UC community.”

Washington Monthly praised the UC system, saying that it “has a distinct blend of size, diversity, and research excellence. By enrolling top students from a huge state with a highly varied population, UC campuses are able to balance academic excellence with scientific prowess and a commitment to enrolling low-income students that is unmatched at similar national universities.”

For the second consecutive year, the magazine also released its “Best Bang for the Buck” rankings, which are based on the economic value students receive per dollar, and UCSB was ranked No. 13 on the list of 81 institutions, joing seven other UC campuses.

For more information, read the Office of Public Affairs and Communications’ news release, “UCSB Among the Best.” View all the universities on Washington Monthly’s Top 100 list and those on its list of “Best Bang for the Buck.” You may also read the GradPost’s 2012 article on the rankings.