Highlights from the 2022 Graduate College town hall event

On Feb. 17, the Graduate College hosted its third annual Graduate Student Town Hall to address the most pressing concerns facing Arizona State University’s graduate students. Graduate students were able to submit questions in advance of the event and during the live Q&A.

Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate College, Elizabeth Wentz led a panel of experts, who answered students' questions. The panel included Deputy Vice President and Dean of students at Tempe, Cassandra Aska, Associate Dean for Professional Development and Engagement, Tamara Underiner and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and Lisa Anderson. The town hall event was moderated by Amanda Athey, director of professional development and engagement for the Graduate College. 

Students asked questions on a variety of topics from whether Commencement will be in person this spring (yes, but with a caveat) to how ASU can help to address the increasingly high cost of living for students in the Phoenix area. We’ve included the highlights below.

Commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion

“What role does the Graduate College have and what efforts are currently being carried out or are in the works around JEDI initiatives to support all graduate level programs, faculty, staff, and students across academic units?


Dean Lisa Anderson discussed the new Presidential Graduate Assistants and Presidential Postdoctoral Fellows programs administered by the Graduate College as a part of ASU’s Listen, Invest, Facilitate and Teach Initiative (LIFT). Each program focuses on increasing the diversity at ASU by increasing access for underrepresented graduate students and for future faculty. Both programs are currently recruiting for new cohorts. 

Formed in 2020, the Graduate Student Advisory Group, a committee of 12 graduate students, was charged with addressing the graduate student climate by incorporating the experiences and perspectives of graduate students into the equitable planning and implementation of graduate student policies, events, training and non-credit offerings. Last year, the Student Advisory Group reviewed offer letters for new TAs and RAs and developed best practices for making program handbooks more inclusive. The Graduate College will be seeking applicants for the Student Advisory Group this summer.

Teaching and research assistantships availability

“What is the best way to obtain an TA/RA position at the University? What other jobs are available on campus and how can students find those opportunities?


Students interested in assistantships should begin by talking with their academic unit. Even if a position is not available, faculty or staff advisors may be aware of openings in other units. If an assistantship is not available, there are a variety of on-campus employment opportunities for graduate students

For information on jobs, both on- and off-campus, visit the Student Employment Job Search page.

ASU recently joined the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), which is an opportunity for students to gain experience and acquire professional certifications. 

Cost of living impact 

"What is ASU doing to address inflated rent and cost of living expenses compared to TA/RA and other graduate assistant stipends? 


Graduate students expressed concerns about the rising cost of living in the Phoenix area in comparison to teaching, research and other graduate assistantship stipends. “We realize that the funding is a big point point for graduate students,” said Vice Provost and Dean Wentz. “The Graduate College is currently working on the budget for the 2022-2023 academic year as a part of the ASU budget process and will share student concerns over stipends. 

The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) recently held a special session dedicated to TA/RA stipends, at which Dean Wentz presented. For those interested in taking a more active role in the ASU governance process, GPSA elections are coming up in March. Applications to run for elected positions are now open.

The Graduate College is in the process of creating a Student Emergency Fund, which will provide a more immediate way to help graduate students in times of crisis.

Scholarship availability

"What is being done to increase scholarship options for graduate students?


“The Graduate College as well as the rest of the University is constantly looking to increase scholarship options for graduate students,” Wentz said.

The Graduate College is in the planning stages of a project to create a searchable scholarship database for graduate students. Until that tool does become available, current funding options can be found on the Graduate College’s funding opportunities website.

Students will not only find information about scholarships, but also about awards and fellowships, TA, RA and GSA appointments, distinguished awards and other funding resources available. The Financial Aid and Scholarship Services Office is also a great resource for funding assistance.

For students who have a question that was not addressed in the town hall, please contact the Graduate College at 480-965-3521 or email grad-gps@asu.edu.


Jenna Nabors