April 15, 2019
Dear Loyola Community,
Loyola is a community rich in dialogue and debate. At any given time, our community is engaged in a range of important issues.
Currently, some of our graduate assistants in the College of Arts and Sciences have been voicing their concerns in several different venues. In the interest of sharing points of view toward greater understanding, we feel it appropriate and helpful for us to share the administration’s position.
First, we recognize that our graduate assistants are a vital part of the University community. In fact, all graduate students at Loyola represent the very highest level of scholarship and each serve as leaders and role models to the entire Loyola student community. Graduate students who are also engaged in teaching and research as part of their academic programs have an even greater level of visibility, leadership, and responsibility.
Like most in the higher education community, Loyola believes that our graduate assistants are fundamentally students—not employees. Why? Our graduate assistants are recruited and admitted to Loyola as students, based on their academic qualifications. They are awarded scholarships, stipends, and other awards to encourage them to study with us. The mentored teaching and research/scholarship activities they perform are part of their integrated learning experiences and help demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter. When graduate assistants leave, they receive academic degrees. They are students in every sense of the word.
As such, we believe they are not eligible for union representation.
However, Loyola is committed to providing a competitive financial aid package to our graduate assistants. We have made a number of improvements in recent years. Graduate assistants’ financial aid packages (scholarship, stipend, and student health insurance) in the Graduate School are valued at around $50,000 per year. By the time a successful doctoral student graduates, Loyola has invested as much as a quarter million dollars in their career.
Loyola also pays the student health and dental insurance premiums for graduate assistants and a host of other enhancements. Graduate assistants are now eligible to pursue outside sources of income and receive stipends to support their educational travel. We have made all of these changes, not because some of our graduate assistants have asked for third-party representation; we have done so because it is the right thing to do.
We are here to listen to all voices, but it is important that everyone be civil and considerate. Accusations are being made that recognizing graduate assistants as students rather than as employees violates the Jesuit, Catholic values of the University. Guided by these ideals, which are at the core of the University and our way of proceeding, we have recognized and enhanced the important relationship we have with our graduate assistants through means other than a union.
With respect for diverging points of view, we will continue to support each other as we serve the Loyola community. For more information on this issue, please visit loyolaforyou.org.
Margaret Faut Callahan, CRNA, PhD, FNAP, FAAN
Interim Provost and Chief Academic Officer
Provost, Health Sciences Division
Thomas J. Regan, S.J., PhD
The Graduate School