A letter to our graduate students

April 21, 2020 - by William Graves

Red text that reads: "A letter to our graduate students from the Dean of the Graduate College"

Dear Iowa State University graduate students,

Our historic spring semester is nearly over. I didn’t want it to end without acknowledging what you have accomplished here at Iowa State University so far in 2020. 

None of you expected your time in graduate school to be marked by a global pandemic that seems to have changed everything. Many of you had to adjust quickly in March to online learning, to online teaching, or both. Many of you had to change your scholarship and your interactions with major professors and research teams. Some of you had to take preliminary or final oral exams in unanticipated ways, only to earn your degrees without walking across the stage in Hilton Coliseum next month with your family and friends there to celebrate.  

Many of you are fearful. Will you and those you love avoid infection? Will your assistantship be jeopardized? Will your graduation be delayed? Will that career path you envisioned remain viable? I won’t claim to understand all that you’ve had to face this semester. And I won’t pretend to have answers to all the questions that may be haunting you. What I can do is acknowledge that you probably are dealing with more uncertainty than you bargained for, and perhaps some loss of confidence that graduate school is where you should be right now.  

Here’s something I strongly believe will not change as a result of COVID-19: the value of master’s and doctoral degrees. I passionately believe that your degree will be worth your investment in it. You will forever be one of those special graduate students who overcame obstacles and persevered through an unprecedented period in world history to achieve a scholarly distinction that relatively few attain under the best circumstances. Thank you for believing in yourselves, believing in Iowa State, and believing that when we get past this difficult time, having your graduate degree will lead to lifelong opportunities. 

Please know that the Iowa State community comprises caring faculty and staff in every department and program who want to help you succeed. My colleagues and I in the Graduate College are here for every graduate student, whether you are finishing your first semester or are ready to graduate and stay connected as an alum. Please engage with us and those in your graduate program. Let us know how you are doing and what you need to succeed. And please share your stories of success. Connecting with us is easy by using this link or by engaging directly with one of us. We are here for you. 

Thank you for being a graduate student at Iowa State University,




William R. Graves, Dean of the Graduate College

Tags: covid-19 updates