January 27, 2021

Report & Rough Minutes: Graduate College Top Tier Pivot Planning Working Group Meeting –



Committee met via WebEx from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 27, 2021


In attendance: (from Grad College) - Dean Korgan, Emily Lin, Valarie Burke, Kara Wada; Members: Sara Jordan, Hui Zhao, Ge Kan, Hyunwa Lee, Kelly Tseng, Peter Gray, Joel Snyder, Rhonda McElroy, Sean Clark, Vivek Sah, Janet Dufek, Daniel Wright; Doug Unger (Chair)


1.)   The group discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for faculty (in progress); Doug Unger emphasized that UNLV is constrained to follow state mandates that determine Tiers or Pathways for faculty vaccinations. Dean Korgan reported from the Incident Management Team that faculty conducting in-person instruction are prioritized; also reported from the Dean’s Council that priority for vaccination should include Graduate Assistant Instructors conducting in-person classes and that some Colleges have not done this yet –

Doug Unger raised issue of possible prioritization of certain groups of Graduate Students who may be conducting Human Subjects Research or who are being delayed in progress because they cannot conduct on site research; students who cannot complete film productions or complete travel required for degree completion. Dean Korgan reported that state mandates have “broad understanding of groups of students” and that they are in “student group category”; also that UNLV will be an “open pod” for vaccines not only for the UNLV community but for others, including CCSD teachers, beginning next week (implication that there may be a line-up and a shortage of vaccine doses).

In answer to the Chair’s question as to whether Graduate Coordinators should begin to identify students, Dean Korgan advised that this may be counterproductive, as all Grad Coordinators might wish to prioritize their students, so instead --

In order possibly to expedite the vaccinations of Graduate Students and G.A.s with urgent research and/or special in-person needs to complete their degrees, the Top Tier Pivot Planning Working Group resolved to write a “General Impact Statement” in order possibly to use it to request specified Graduate Student Groups for prioritization.

Joel Snyder suggested such a statement should include R.A.s and Post-Docs who work in laboratories, and Laboratory Staff, who are currently working in laboratories “at risk to themselves.”

Doug Unger committed to write such a “General Impact Statement” for purposes of requesting prioritization of G.A.s, R.A.s, and Graduate Students delayed in their research, film productions, and required travel for their degrees, and Post-Docs and Laboratory Staff, as soon as early next week to share out with the Working Group for feedback.

Janet Dufek suggested coordinating with the Associate Deans’ Group who oversee research; Emily Lin suggested coordinating with Lori Olafson, Interim Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

2.)   The Working Group transitioned to discuss the second agenda item – how to report from our Graduate Programs and Departments the COVID-19 responses our Programs and the College wish to retain after reopening, including:  a.) actions (specific to the way we do things); b.) outreach to students (differences in advising, assisting, recruiting);                  c.) curricular changes & means of delivering instruction; and other adaptations.

The Graduate College team shared the Google Spreadsheet on which their team is listing changes and adaptations in administrative processes and policies for the Graduate College and suggested a similar document. Kara Wada created a “blank document” into which the members of the Working Group could add adaptations and responses – the changes we might wish to retain for programs and students – available at this link:


Sean Clark stated that in his field and for his students “nothing should be kept” as the COVID-19 adaptations have been “all bad” for his students (film students & theater students). Doug Unger suggested that the “innovations/adaptations” that are positive are the only ones that should be entered into the working Google spreadsheet.

The Group shared some initial ideas: Peter Gray “virtual thesis defenses” as being positive; Janet Dufek contributed that virtual Oral Exams don’t work well; Kara Wada asked for specific feedback on the TOEFL being replaced by the Duo-Lingual English tests and the “At Home TOEFL” and if these replacements work for our programs; Ge Kan suggested that the Lied Library COVID-19 policy of allowing the copying of book chapters for home use plus other IT innovations might be worth keeping, if the Library would continue to do this; Doug Unger shared that the English Department will keep its pre-orientation virtual outreach meetings with new students and more digital sharing of orientation information (plus more frequent check-ins); other innovations were shared.

The Google Document Spreadsheet has been posted. The Working Group agreed to solicit from its Graduate Programs and Departments the positive innovations/adaptations to the pandemic and add their own input into the Working Document by February 19th.

The Working Group agreed to meet during the week of February 19th to review the Working Document, for revision, refining, and possible additions, and for sharing with the Graduate Coordinators at the Graduate Council. 

The Meeting Adjourned at 11:56 a.m.