Humanities Graduate Student Association Webpage: August Town Hall with the Deans and Resources/Funding Updates

In memory of Clancy Taylor, our fellow humanities graduate student, and HGSA Executive Board 2019-2020 member, please share this link to The Clancy Taylor Fund established by Clancy’s family.

A copy of the letter that President Leebron and Provost DesRoches sent out to the Rice Community on 7/09 can be found here.

Information on the CARES Act, sent out by Dean Matsuda on June 15, 2020 can be found here.

HGSA Solidarity Statement on BLM

Dear Fellow Humanities Students,

The HGSA executive board joins in solidarity with other organizations both on campus and within our community to voice our unequivocal support of Black lives and our Black community. We stand together against systemic racism and violence against Black individuals and communities. We know that many of you are heartbroken and in mourning over recent events, and we join with you in that mourning. We promise to continue to advocate for each of you, and to listen and learn from you as well.

There are many ways we as students can get involved and instigate change:

As always, we are here to serve you, so please continue to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have or to suggest new resources or volunteer opportunities.

Town Hall 8/5/2020


  •  Endowment money of $27,050 allotted for six-year funding for 2020-2021 was given on an emergency basis. Students with other paid jobs will receive a supplemental amount to guarantee a total income of $27,050.
  • “Why didn’t I receive all the money? Why am I being punished for getting a job?” The deans consider these questions of fairness moot because of the emergency circumstances. Teaching itself is not a punishment because professionalization, experience, etc.
  • Funding for 7th year students of up to $10,000 will be provided pending supervisor support.
  • Budgetary constrictions in 2021-2022 will probably include cuts to the school of humanities as a whole and may specifically fit 6th year funding discussions.
  • Pausing the intake of graduate students for 2021-2022 is a major conversation this year (we will update all as necessary).

Mellon Seminar

  • Mellon Seminar is now a fusion of dissertation writing and dissertation launch under Prof Betty Joseph and Susan Lurie in one class and Prof Diane Wolfthal in another.
  • Campana will offer a Melon on environmentalism and Kripal on Comparatist Thinking.
  • The primary rationale for merging two courses is to enable interdisciplinary sharing of the dissertation (at whichever process it is) for reasons of job marketability and intellectual development. 
  • The budget for the Mellon is for “research training for grad students.” 
  • 26 students will be enrolled this semester and around 35-40 for the year. Research funds are still available and remain at $1500.

Dean’s Fund

The Dean’s fund cannot be allotted to purchase technology but can be used for books, travel, conferences, etc.


Q: Are incoming international students required to attend at least 1 in-person class?

A: Yes, we have made a “good faith effort to provide in-person instructions”, and we think that if we go online, then these students should be safe.

Q: Will we have Adobe reader access?

A: Lydia Westbrook suggested license might have expired. She will follow up. Dean Canning suggested that it might not be available again given costs. 

Q: Are we reopening and what is the contingency plan?

A: We are opening.

The discussion has been about “risk-management” discourse. Faculty are discussing when to shut down (in-case of a student death, for example).There has been one case of transmission on Rice campus with 63 cases in the Rice population total.Rice is still open to the public.

Regarding undergraduates: 40% will be on-campus (usually 72%), with many living-off campus. Dean Canning says there is no “off-ramp” policy.

There is an allotted isolation center for positive cases and Dean Canning thinks that the University would still go on even if the center reached capacity. Dean Canning intimated that measures to stop interaction (therefore spreading of COVID-19) such as the Culture of Care document probably will not be followed to the letter by the undergraduate population.

Q: What teaching and RA opportunities are available.

A: We would like to inventory all teaching opportunities, both those within departments and for anyone in the school, to make sure there is parity across departments as much as is possible.

TA opportunities might arise with increased large online courses.

$250K was cut from the A-1 budget (1%), the central school budget, we may expect bigger cuts in the future if cuts are made; these will have an impact on future opportunities.

An environmental graduate certificate is under review: teaching and training will be built into that program. The implication was that this may model future thinking on TA and RA thinking in the University.

Q: What are the office and library safety protocols?

A: Work with your departments individually. We could use an inventory from HGSA on who will be working on campus, for how long. Questions such as “how many hours might you be on campus?” “are you comfortable being in an office space?”The Dean’s Office doesn’t know and would like to know how many people are coming in, must come in, want to come in, etc.

Q: Can Rice open a “fake-class” so that international students will be safe from ICE or government legislation? This could come on a more permanent basis.  

A (C): The requirements for a course include that they must be in a designated university space, must be three hours and must be toward your research, discipline for example.In-person courses can be organized as directed readings with a minimum of 51% in-person. All departments have made such courses available, currently.

Q: What are the foreseeable problems for new international students not able to arrive in Houston for fall?

A: No academic problems, currently; Financial not mentioned.

Q: I am teaching a class which caps at 29 students. Currently 26 are enrolled. If 2 students dropped, will I need to shift to teach in person?

A: No, because the course is currently registered as online and they don’t have a room designated. Given the difficulty of assigning classes it’s not necessarily possible and no one will be forced to teach in-person. Dean Canning suggested that people could open the course and commit fully online to have more students. There is the option to do small in-person sessions and that is possible given the small rooms.

Q: Who do I need to notify if I want to do in-person sessions?

A (C): It’s suggested to communicate with your department head and admin so that compliance is met. 

Immediate help and support

  • If you are self-isolating in Houston and can’t get groceries/are otherwise unable to access resources, email (or contact us on Twitter or via Facebook) and we will find a way to get you what you need.
  • We have made a spreadsheet indicating who has identified themselves as (a) still in Houston, (b) not among the most vulnerable, and (c) having access to transportation. If you fit this bill and are willing to help, email and let us know if you’re comfortable being on this spreadsheet. We may contact you for help with bringing resources to other graduate students.
  • Scott Pett ( at the OISS has volunteered to be a point of contact for International Students and postdocs.

Teaching/Learning/Research Resources

  • Zoom guides published by Rice:
  • As of 8/3 Fondren is starting Phase II of the library reopening! For information on that please check out
  • Fondren’s statement as of 8/6:
    • The access details are available on the library website here:
    • The library staff are presently in Phase II of a “soft opening.” The fuller opening of Phase III is scheduled, tentatively, for August 24th.
    • At this time, only the first floor is technically open, but Sue Garrison does add that any materials not available on the first floor can be accessed at this time by our graduate students. Reading between the lines, I would guess that a request to this effect to the library staff would be wise and prudent. I would ask that our graduate students not just go down to the basement or up to the upper floors on their own. Any humanities graduate student may certainly cite this exchange with the Dean’s Office and the Library via Sue Garrison when such a request is made. And if you need my assistance for any of this, I am always here and available. I think I would probably be the best person to contact in the Dean’s Office on this.
    • If you go to the link above, you will see that this is a “moving target,” as it were. Your question about what will happen in case of a second shut-down is really not answerable at this time. I think the library, like the rest of us, is simply trying to be nimble and respond to the situation as it develops, and no one knows where that will go.
  • Lastly, the DMC has a ton of virtual resources available, from remote Zoom workshops to 1-on-1 help. They will teach you how to use Photoshop, make videos, or whatever you can come up with. Beyond this, Jane Zhao would like to know what kind of in-person resources or services humanities grad students need from the Digital Media Commons–in the next month as well as on the longer term. Email Els to share info.
  • The Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in their lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later. Here is a Remote Library Services guide that includes links to a few of the e-resources being made temporarily available by publishers:


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