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The History Graduate Student’s Survival Guide
Prepared by the History Graduate Student Association (HGSA)
This guide is designed to be read in conjunction with the History Department’s “Graduate Work in History.” Taken together, the documents might seem a bit overwhelming, but remember, as you are exposed to more of the program’s rules, requirements, and expectations, they will begin to make sense. Do not be discouraged by the “indoctrination” process. There have been recent changes made to the first year sequence in the program, so keep an eye out for a full description of these changes from the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).
The graduate program at UIUC consists of three stages. In a rough estimation, students may spend at least 2 to 3 years taking courses, then 1 year completing preliminary examinations, and, finally, 2 to 3 years researching and writing the dissertation. You should take the time that you need to do well in your coursework, examinations, research, and writing. For many Ph.D. candidates, however, the longer that they are here, the more difficult the program is to complete.
You may hear about expectations of completing the Ph.D. in 5 to 6 years. We urge you to keep in mind the following points, if you choose to adopt that timeline. First, while you should get through the program in a timely manner, you will want to maintain your sanity. Sanity may involve finding a balance between studying, working, and socializing that will probably be different from the balance you struck as an undergraduate, an employer, or in various other livelihoods. Second, graduate school serves as a forum for reading and really absorbing the fields that you will need to know for getting and performing an academic job. Gaining knowledge of a field is an enormous task for which you will not have time after you get a job. Finally, this should be a time when you make connections with your colleagues, in order to have a scholarly community within the department and the university, and with scholars at other institutions by attending conferences, workshops, etc.
It is important to keep in mind the paperwork involved in maintaining registration, funding, and financial aid if your studies go to 7 or 8 years and beyond. The details, such as the amount of credit hours needed in your major and minor fields and the number of semesters needed to complete coursework, vary greatly from person to person and will have to be worked out between you, your major advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies, or DGS. Departmental guidelines are flexible to an extent. Nonetheless, be sure to acquire written approval for any variation in the program to avoid confusion and delays. You will certainly want to file all paperwork pertaining to this process in a safe place.
Stage 1: Coursework
You must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in all semesters. Generally, a B+ or lower in a graduate course indicates some problem such as miscommunication between the student and professor, too many time commitments on the part of the student, substandard work, etc. In “problems courses,” you will generally be expected to read one monograph paired with several required articles per week and to produce a historiography paper. In “research seminars,” you will also produce an original research paper similar to a publishable-quality article. There is more information about courses below.
You will also have to fulfill foreign language requirements; these courses do not count towards credits for the degree. If you are an Americanist, a student of U.S. history, you must demonstrate language proficiency in one foreign language. For everyone else, you must demonstrate language proficiency in two foreign languages. Some fields require an additional foreign language or languages that are not regularly offered through the conventional 500 and 501 courses, e.g. French 500 and 501 are designed specifically to give graduate students reading ability in the foreign language. “Language proficiency” usually means achieving an adequate reading knowledge of a language relevant to your field of study. Although UIUC offers a great array of languages, you can sometimes do more intensive language study during the summer at other universities, which may have funding sources. Consult with your advisor or experienced students in your field for advice on the best way to meet the department’s requirements and actually gain the necessary expertise to conduct research in a foreign language.
Very few graduate history courses are offered during the summer. It is possible, however, to arrange a reading course, designated as History 597, with a willing professor during the summer months. Teaching Assistantships are particularly difficult to come by in the summer because there are few TA positions, therefore some people take summer jobs. You should also be aware of the university pay schedule: you will get your first check in mid-September and your last paycheck in mid-May. If you are not planning on another source of income, you will probably need to save throughout the year. Moreover, many summer jobs at the university do not begin payment until July 16th, which means you may not receive a paycheck between May and July even if you are working at UIUC for the summer.
You may apply for the Ph.D. program by filing a Ph.D. program plan after four semesters if you entered with an M.A. or after six semesters if you entered with a B.A. This is a major milestone in your career as a graduate student since it asks you to identify the three fields in which you will be examined and requires all faculty members with whom you have taken courses to give their views on your likelihood of long-run success in the Ph.D. program. By that time, you should have settled on a major advisor. If you came in with a B.A., you can also apply to have an M.A. after four semesters.
The department does not offer a terminal M.A. degree as such, but if you decide that continuing in the Ph.D. program is not for you, it is important that you leave UIUC with at least an M.A., or you may feel that you wasted those years of school. If you make the decision to leave, the department is generally supportive, but you should talk to the DGS as soon as possible.
Stage 2: Prelims
Most of the coursework that you will take in your first 2 or 3 years of the program should prepare you to demonstrate, in both written and oral examinations, your knowledge of three fields and should prepare you to conduct dissertation research in your major field. You are required to complete 52 credit hours before taking preliminary examinations, or “prelims.” If you already have an M.A., you need 32 credit hours. However, in order to take classes with the professors who will become your examiners and to gain knowledge of the field, you may have to take 52 credit hours. The requirements include the following:
16 credit hours in your major field
8 credit hours in each of 2 minor fields
2 foreign languages or 1 foreign language for Americanists
3 research seminars with 2 different faculty members (2 for people with M.A.s)
After you have completed the above requirements, you will begin taking prelims. The department demands that you complete language requirements before you begin taking prelims, and it takes this requirement very seriously. Preliminary examinations are written tests of your competence – for teaching, interviewing for jobs, and attending conferences – in each of your three fields. Keep this in mind when choosing your courses, even in the early stages of coursework. As you select your examiners, the professors who will write and assess your prelims, in consultation with your major advisor, you want to be sure to take classes with them. Students facing prelims need to set up almost entirely separate prelim examiners for each field because you can only have 1 person on 2 different tests. In other words, you have to have at least 5 different examiners for the 3 written exams. Your advisor must be one of the examiners for your major field. Remember that fields are generally broad, so you will not want to cluster all of your coursework around one geographic, thematic, or chronological area. See the documents titled “Guidelines for Preliminary Examiner/Examinee Relations” and “Demystifying the Preliminary Examination” as well as the “Degree Requirements” section of the graduate studies page on the History Department website for more specific information on prelims.
As you begin to prepare for prelims, talk to the professors you want to write your exams. A variety of factors can prevent you from getting your first choice, i.e. a professor may be going on leave. It is also a good idea to talk with students who have weathered the storms and understand recent trends in each field. Your colleagues are also excellent sources for tracking down reading lists for some fields. In fact, this developmental stage is part of the process. You will want to organize ideas and themes in your own mind and establish the approach you, as an individual, will take to mastering them. If you fail in your first attempt at a prelim, you can petition the DGS to retake the prelim. People have been known to fail an exam the first time around and retake it successfully.
Also, while preparing for your prelims, you should be developing a dissertation proposal. (At your oral preliminary examination, explained below, you will be expected to address both your answers on the written prelim exams and your dissertation proposal.) History 597, with approval from your advisor, provides a useful way for you to work on your proposal while receiving credits.It requires you to participate in the dissertation proposal writing workshop, which is usually held each semester. Workshop participants typically meet once a week under the direction of at least one professor. This workshop provides a valuable opportunity to get feedback from students and faculty on your research proposal, and it forces you to write the dissertation proposal, which will be important for grant applications, departmental funding, the oral prelim, etc. Although you can only take this workshop for credit once, many students in the past have benefited from multiple sessions of the workshop.
The oral examination is, by the designation of the Graduate College, the official preliminary examination. (The written prelims do not fulfill the requirements of the Grad College.) However, oral prelims in the History Department are usually less involved than the written prelims, although they should not be taken lightly. You must have at least one faculty member from each of your fields on your oral preliminary examination committee, plus a fourth faculty member who may be one of your written prelim examiners or who may come from outside the department. Schedule the oral prelim as soon as possible after the written prelims; it must occur during the semester in which you take your final written prelim. Clearance of this date from the Grad College can take 2 to 3 weeks, so do not wait until the end of the semester to schedule your oral or you may run out of time. You must have a dissertation proposal available for your four examiners one week prior to the oral prelim. After completing coursework, prelims, and the oral prelim, you are considered ABD, or All But Dissertation. As always, policies are subject to change, so consult the DGS for the most current departmental position.
Stage 3: The Dissertation
This stage consists of researching, writing, and defending your dissertation. You must complete 32 thesis research credit hours, designated as History 599, during this phase. You must establish your Doctoral Examination Committee within 1 year after reaching the ABD status. You will develop this committee in consultation with your advisor. It can be the same as your oral preliminary examination committee, but many students choose different committees at this stage to reflect the changing needs of research and writing. You will meet with your committee at least once before your dissertation defense to ensure that all members can appropriately advise you on your project.
You will deal with two advisors during your career at UIUC. When you first arrive, you will confer with the graduate advisor in your main geographic area, the U.S., Europe, or Non-Western History. In addition to signing your program request form during registration or pre-registration, the graduate advisor approves petitions for waiving requirements and evaluates your progress. The graduate advisor can be the best source of information on department and graduate college regulations.
When you apply to the Ph.D. program (after 4 semesters if you entered with an M.A. or after 6 semesters if you entered with a B.A.), you will need to list a particular professor as a major advisor. Make certain you secure the professor’s permission before putting his or her name down. If possible, you should take a course with your prospective advisor during your first semester here. Even better, take a research seminar sometime in the first few semesters with your potential advisor because it is of the utmost importance to see if you and that professor work well together on major writing projects. It is also a good idea to check with the professor’s advisees to see what their experience has been. If the professor you have in mind has no advisees, find out why by asking your peers. Other things to take into consideration include the following: the standing of the faculty member within the broader academic community; the number of other advisees and major commitments the professor has, which may determine how much personal attention you will get; and whether the professor has tenure in the department. Sometimes professors move to other institutions, whether they have tenure or not, although the chances are less with tenure.
Most graduate students take 12 credit hours per semester, if they do not hold an appointment such as a GAship, RAship, TAship, and Grader Position. RAs, TAs, and Graders normally take 8 credit hours per semester along with, perhaps, a language course. If you have a Teaching Assistantship, you need to register for History 598, Teaching of College History, for 2 hours.
The History Department offers courses ranging from the 100-level to the 500-level. 100- and 200-level courses are designed for undergraduates and concern you only if you are teaching one of them. 400-level courses are lecturing surveys for advanced undergraduates and sometimes gradate students. The department discourages graduate students from taking many 400-level courses; however, they may prove useful if you feel particularly weak in a given area or if you are in one of the smaller fields where graduate courses are not offered as often. Graduate students taking a 400-level course are expected to complete extra work and sometimes meet separately with the professor teaching the course. Talk with the professor beforehand to get a sense of what will be required. You can also sometimes, with the permission of the professor, take the 400-level course as a 500-level independent study. 500-level courses are generally restricted to graduate students. With the exception of courses in historical methods, courses at this level are of two types: “problems courses” and “research seminars.”
Usually bibliographic in orientation, these courses are designed to help you master the historiographical material of a given topic. They will be the most useful in preparing you for prelims, especially since they will cue you into what professors think are the most important issues. Students can also arrange to take a readings course, History 597, whereby you find a willing professor to oversee your work in a given area. Be cautious of relying too heavily on such arranged courses. Professors do not always like to direct them because they do not get teaching credit for the work they put into them and because you do not benefit from the discussion and feedback one finds in a regular problems course. However, HIST 597s work well when you cannot find a course to fit your schedule or when a needed course is not being offered.
In a research seminar, you are expected to write a piece of original research. Reading knowledge in appropriate languages is almost always a prerequisite and always desirable. Research seminars are the most important courses you will take, as they most clearly demonstrate whether you can produce historical work. Although a seminar is worth 4 credit hours, you can plan to put much more work into it than you would other courses. It is standard practice to tailor seminar work as closely as possible to potential dissertation research, although this is not always possible. You can also take seminars independently as a History 596 course, but again, this approach hinders group feedback, discussion, and support.
Passing grades for graduate students are “A’s” and “B’s.” Anything less indicates unsatisfactory work. Although you do not want to receive a “B+,” you can receive 1 or 2 while you are in the program. A “B-” is not acceptable. The pluses and minuses affect your GPA, which may be considered when the department makes funding decisions. The department does not include foreign language courses in its GPA equation. History 598, Teaching of College History, is graded on a pass/fail basis; History 599, Thesis Research, is not graded until the dissertation is completed.
If you are unable to complete work in a particular course during the semester, you can usually ask the professor to give you an extension, an EX, although the department is heavily urging professors to discontinue this practice. Many of us take one or two EX’s at some point during our coursework, but be wary of them. You still need to complete the coursework, and you will be equally pressed for time, if not more pressed, in the semester following the semester in which you took an EX. In addition to the time disadvantages, there are new rules about EX’s which will affect your departmental funding. Consult the “Guide to History” for more information. You must also have all EX’s completed before you take your prelims. The bottom line is do not take any EX’s. But if you absolutely have to, complete the work during the semester break.
One way to gain knowledge without writing papers or taking exams is to audit classes. It is a good idea to audit 400-level lecture classes in your fields that you cannot actually take. This helps you determine what different professors think is important for their fields. You should ask professors for their permission before auditing classes. 500-level courses can also be audited, although this is not as common.
Gregory Hall at 810 South Wright Street in Urbana houses the Department of History. It is an E-shaped building and is located on the Quadrangle with Lincoln Hall to the north and Foellinger Auditorium to the east. The Main Library, including the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library, is to the southwest, making Greg Hall a convenient campus location.
All registered graduate students in town receive mailboxes, and they are located in 309 Greg Hall. This is also the main department office, the location of faculty mailboxes, and the department lounge. In the lounge are hot water, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for a nominal price. A few recent newspapers and journals, as well as information on funding opportunities are also kept there. The friendly office staff is very helpful when needed.
Room 439 and the Graduate Lounge
Most of the TA offices are in 439 Greg Hall, which is a good place to go if you are seeking advice from other graduate students on a particular issue. The lounge, located next to Room 439, is accessible any time the TA office is open and has a computer lab, which you swipe your I-Card to enter. The lounge has a fridge and a microwave for lunch. It is a very comfortable place to read, eat, and talk with other graduate students.
Graduate Employees Organization
The GEO is the officially recognized union for graduate students at UIUC. In the past 3 years, the GEO has made great strides to obtain a contract with benefits for grad students, although currently only TA’s and GA’s are part of the officially recognized bargaining unit. The GEO has events throughout the year to foster inter-departmental collegiality and is always looking for people to help out with organizing. Their office is located in the YMCA on Wright Street.
History Graduate Student Association
The HGSA consists of graduate students organized to have a collective voice in the creation and implementation of department policy. It sets up programs to assist with new student and new TA orientations. Throughout the course of the semester, the HGSA also sponsors workshops on various topics such as prelim preparation and funding. In addition to producing this guide, the HGSA also compiles the graduate student directory. The president and vice-president are members of the departmental Graduate Committee and observe faculty meetings.
Phi Alpha Theta
A history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta sponsors activities that are open to the entire department, including an annual department picnic, banquet, and book sale. All who have been initiated at other schools are considered members at Illinois, although any graduate student is eligible to become a member. You may be interested in joining in the spring.
The Women’s Caucus consists of all women in the History Department and holds a popular weekly lunch for all members. The WC also organizes and sponsors events to discuss issues of particular concern to women.
Women’s and Gender History Symposium
History graduate students plan and execute an annual national conference in March to showcase graduate work in the fields of women’s and gender history and to honor Women’s History month. There are many committees to become involved in, and your involvement will unveil the mechanics of organizing a conference.
McKinley Health Center
1109 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana, 333-2701
McKinley serves the students and graduate spouses at UIUC. Though there is a health service fee for McKinley, the GEO-negotiated contract states that the university waives this fee. McKinley coverage includes appointments with doctors, nurses and counselors; diagnostic tests done on-campus such as lab work and x-rays; and medications prescribed by McKinley health providers and filled at their pharmacy. The fee does notcover immunizations or any costs incurred from off-campus services. In other words, if you have a problem McKinley cannot handle and they refer you to a local doctor or hospital, the health service fee will not cover those costs.
- Dial-a-Nurse (333-2700), available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, provides free phone consultations for health-related issues. A nurse will help guide you on the best course of action for dealing with your concern (self-care, appointment with a health worker, or emergency off-campus care).
- Medical Clinics (333-2700), open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., provide primary medical care, treating injuries, burns, and fevers; handling diagnoses, treatments, and follow-up care for many illnesses; and conducting regular check-ups.
- Women’s Health Clinic (333-2700), open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., provides routine annual exams and pap smears, contraception, sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment, including anonymous HIV screening, breast exams and pregnancy options counseling, and other health problems and concerns related to women’s health.
- Mental Health Center (333-2705), open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., provides short-term therapy and treatment for mental illnesses, as well as counseling on stress and interpersonal relationship problems.
- SportWell Center (244-0261), open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is located at OASIS in the lower level of the Illini Union. The center provides athletic trainers and sports nutritionists to help you deal with such issues as injury prevention, fitness management, and nutrition.
- McKinley Health Resource Centers (HRC’s) are located at McKinley and OASIS. At these sites, you can pick up such non-prescription medicines as cold care products, home pregnancy test kit, yeast infection treatment kit, wound care package, condoms, spermicidal gel, latex barriers, and health information handouts.
CITES Help Desk
1102 Digital Computer Laboratory
1304 W. Springfield, Urbana, 244-7000
Customer Support Services (CSS) serves as a gateway to all Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services (CITES), presenting a well-defined customer-oriented entry point for faculty, staff, and students. CSS operates the CITES Help Desk. Most computing and networking services are located in the Digital Computer Laboratory.
Utilizing your e-mail account is essential to registration and campus Communication. You are assigned a network ID and password when you are admitted to the university. If you have any questions about your account, contact the CSS. Although the laboratory is a bit difficult to find, the people there are friendly and accustomed to dealing with nearly illiterate computer people. They can provide you with free software that will enable you to access the university’s system from your own home modem. Your e-mail account is free as long as you are enrolled at UIUC. Use it to register, receive important departmental and university info, and keep in touch with your friends and family scattered across the globe. Computer labs all over campus offer sites where you can access your account. The history computer lab is conveniently located in Room 443A Greg Hall.
326 Illini Union
1401 W. Green St., Urbana, 333-0112
The Tenant Union is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and helps students who have problems with their landlords, who are looking for housing, and who have questions about renting in Champaign County. All services and materials are free because they are paid for by the Student Organization Resource Fee (SORF). Contact the union to check landlords’ complaint histories, to have your lease reviewed before you sign it, to get help with rental housing problems, and to file a complaint against your landlord. The union’s staff will give great tips on apartment hunting in Champaign-Urbana. If you are looking for quieter areas, consider those farther from campus. First St. to Sixth St. and Green St. to University Ave. contain lots of apartments, but most are filled by undergraduate students. This area struggles with some safety concerns, especially at night.
University Housing includes two traditional residence hall options, Daniels and Sherman Halls, for graduate students. There are a variety of apartment and lease options for graduate students with families as at least one resident of a Family & Graduate Housing apartment must be formally affiliated with the university. Applications for university housing must be completed on-line at www.housing.uiuc.edu.
Campu Recreation Center East (CRCE)
1102 W. Gregory, Urbana, 244-3603
Graduate students are assessed a Student Service Fee, which automatically enrolls grads as Campus Recreation members, who may enter any Campus Rec facility with an i-Card or student ID. You must provide a towel for cardio and weight areas, but digital lockers are available in some facilities. Ask about the facilities’ schedules and other information at the front desk. You may also be interested in the group fitness program. CRCE (pronounced sir-see) has been recently renovated to house an aquatic center with leisure pool, waterslide, and spa. It has upgraded its locker facilities and houses basketball courts, multipurpose rooms, cardio and free weight equipment, and a 3-lane indoor track.
IntraMural Physical Education Building
201 E. Peabody, Champaign, 333-3806
IMPE, the largest gym on campus, is currently undergoing major renovations. The building’s main doors are closed, but the East Wing of IMPE has opened its doors for users during construction. The East Wing has four courts and over 60 pieces of cardio equipment, selectorized stations, and free weights. Locker rooms with shower facilities have been added to the restrooms. To accommodate users, lap swim hours have been extended at the Freer and Kenney Pools. Campus Rec also has an agreement with the Urbana Park District for reduced membership rates at the Urbana Aquatic Center (384-POOL).
Outdoor Center Building
51 E. Gregory, Champaign, 333-TRIP
The Campus Rec’s Outdoor Program provides camping equipment for rent, including tents, backpacks, and cross-country skis. The staff can also suggest places to go, environmental conditions to consider, and opportunities to explore.
1408 W. Gregory, Urbana, 333-2290
Contact the Information Desk in the main library for information about hours and circulation. The Undergraduate Library (333-1031) is located underground directly south of Foellinger Auditorium. Materials are housed in the central book stacks of the Main Library and Undergraduate Library, as well as more than 35 departmental libraries. As collections have expanded, many items have been moved to the Oak Street Storage Facility and take a few extra days to acquire. You can make on-line requests to have books sent to a single location or to your on-campus mailbox.
The History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library (333-1509) is currently located in Room 246 of the Main Library and is a quiet, comfortable, and convenient on-campus workplace. It contains the current and back issues of history journals, important history monographs, and critical databank resources. This departmental library serves as the site for reserve materials needed for history course readings.
Urbana Free Library
210 W. Green St., 367-4057
Champaign Public Library
505 S. Randolph, 403-2000
To obtain a library card, present in person a photo ID and proof of residency in either city, e.g. mail with printed address in Champaign and postmarked mail in Urbana, at the above locations. The public libraries are members of the Lincoln Trail Libraries System and house collections of best sellers, books on tape, children’s books, videos and DVDs, CDs, and magazines. The Urbana Free Library has recently been remodeled, while the Champaign Public Library is undergoing construction.
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
1101 E. University, Urbana, 384-8188
The Mass Transit District (MTD) is Champaign-Urbana’s public transportation. The MTD buses are quite convenient, and since every student pays a fee to support the MTD, you are entitled to unlimited access to all routes and services at all times. Simply show your student ID, or i-Card, to the operator. All MTD regular routes are served by buses that are equipped with wheelchair lifts. In general, buses run about every 20 to 30 minutes, and almost all lines go to campus. Helpful bus drivers will pick you up and drop you off on any corner along their route. You can find information on routes and detours at www.cumtd.com, and you can pick up maps onboard most buses and at the terminal.
- Amtrak (352-5905) is located at the Illinois Terminal at 1101 E. University, which also contains the central MTD offices. Call 1-800-USA-RAIL or visit www.amtrak.com for more information. Passenger trains run daily from Illinois Terminal to Chicago’s Union Station, leaving Champaign in the early morning and returning to Champaign in the evening.
- Greyhound (352-4150) is also located at the Illinois Terminal and runs to Chicago.
- Lincolnland Express (LEX) (352-6682) ferries passengers from Champaign and UIUC every few hours to and from O’Hare Airport, Midway Airport, Indianapolis Airport, Chicago’s Union Station, and suburban Chicago locations. More information is available at the LEX Office at 310 Tiffany Court in Champaign or at www.lincolnlandexpress.com.
- Suburban Express (344-5500) provides weekend bus service between UIUC and destinations in the Chicago suburbs. Visit www.suburbanexpress.com for more information.
11 Airport Rd., Savoy, 244-8600
Willard Airport, located about 3 miles south of Champaign on Route 45, which is the extension of Neil St., is a regional airport operated by the University of Illinois, accommodating both private and commercial aircraft. Each day, 4 carriers operate 27 flights to 6 major hubs. Prices can be quite steep, but as bus services to Chicago raise their rates, flying may become competitive. Parking costs $5 per day, and the MTD has a bus route from campus and the Illinois Terminal to the airport that operates 7 days a week.
Willard Airport (CMI) offers various rental cars, including AVIS (359-5441), Budget (378-8584), Hertz (359-5413), and National (359-5259). There are other car rental agencies in town, like National Car Rental (352-2775) at 115 W. Kirby, Champaign.
The Graduate College
204 Coble Hall
801 S. Wright St., Urban, 333-0035
The Grad College serves the needs of prospective and current graduate students. The college offers numerous workshops about professional development, including managing the graduate school experience, CV critiques, dissertation writing seminars, and thesis depositing workshop. On September 8th, the college will host the 2006 Graduate Student Information Fair. Check the campus calendar for more details.
Employment: To qualify for a tuition and service fee waiver, graduate employees must have at least a 25% appointment. A 25% appointment is equated to 10 hours of work each week; a 50% appointment equals 20 hours/week. The waiver will be revoked if you fail to work at least 3/4 of a semester, which is 91 days for the academic year and 41 days for the summer session. Employees are entitled to “all-campus” holidays, like Labor Day and Martin Luther King Day, etc. For many assistantships, this means that you are responsible for hours during Spring Break and between Fall and Spring Semesters. Most appointments are for 9 months, and summer appointments are for 2 months. Hence, possibly only 11 months are covered (no one gets paid in August), and the university is not required to grant vacation days. Payday is the 16th of every month, or the Friday before the 16th, if it falls on a weekend. Your first paycheck, whether as an employee or fellow, does not come until September 16th. Financial Aid offers “emergency loans” of up to $800 for grads to cover expenses until that first paycheck arrives. You will also want to keep in mind that unless otherwise noted in your funding package, you are only being offered 9 months of funding by the department.
The Graduate Employees Organization
1001 S. Wright St., Urbana, 344-8283
The GEO offices are located in the University YMCA, and its website is www.uigeo.org. The GEO is a democratic member-run union for all graduate employees. Through the GEO, TAs and GAs can negotiate with the university over healthcare, wages, and other working conditions. Graduate employees at UIUC have been working through the GEO since the early 1990s to increase stipends, to improve benefits, and make other changes. The GEO has made significant improvements in graduate employee working conditions, including our first contract and fully subsidized vision and dental care, and strives for more. The GEO also handles grievances for all members of the bargaining unit. In order to run the union, every graduate employee covered by the contract is required to pay a “fair share fee” or “representation fee” to the union. While membership is optional, the dues are mandatory, yet everyone benefits from the union. If you would like more information or want to join, the GEO would love to hear from you.
Office of Minority Student Affairs
130 Student Services Building
610 E. John St., Champaign, 333-0054
The OMSA provides guidance and counseling support and services to minority students in all areas relevant to their success on the campus, including financial aid, academic issues, race relations, etc. The office serves both undergraduate and graduate students on campus.
The Graduate College’s Educational Equity Programs Office (333-4860) works closely with the OSMA as well as the Counseling Center, the Black Graduate Student Association, La Casa Cultural Latina, the Afro-American Studies and Research Program, and the African American Cultural Program. The mission of that office is to address questions of access to and participation in graduate education by individuals from groups that are currently underrepresented at UIUC.
International Student and Scholar Services
400 Student Services Building
610 E. John St., Champaign, 333-1303
The ISSS office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Formerly known as the Office of International Student Affairs, the ISSS provides advice and information on immigration, income taxes, employment, healthcare, and financial aid. The ISSS is an advocate for international education and seeks to facilitate cross-cultural adjustment when international students arrive on campus. If you are a new international student at UIUC, you will receive information from ISSS and will be required to check-in with the staff upon arriving in Champaign-Urbana. Do not hesitate to contact ISSS at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns; they would love to hear from you.
Office for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resources
Room 323, Illini Union
1401 W. Green St., Urbana, 244-8863
The Office for LGBT Resources is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This office is a resource for anyone who is interested in learning about LGBT people, issues, and concerns. For the LGBT community, the office provides services and support for full inclusion for all within the university. The campus environment mirrors homophobic and/or heterosexist attitudes of our larger society, therefore this office seeks to address homophobia on campus. It provides confidential forums and advocates for queer academic resources.
The organization Out On Campus, which is open to all faculty and staff, is developing to address the needs of LGBT professionals. Contact the Office for LGBT Resources for more information. The group Ally Network, which is open to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual faculty, staff, TAs, GAs, and resident assistants, seeks to facilitate the development of all students around issues of sexual orientation and to improve the experience of LGBT students at UIUC. The Network is sponsored by the Office for LGBT Resources and Sexual Orientation and Diversity Allies (SODA). The Allies would love to hear from you; call 244-8863.
The Gender & Women’s Studies Program (333-2990) is the vibrant interdisciplinary academic arm of women’s services at UIUC. The program offers a graduate minor in gender and women’s studies and some funding opportunities.The Office of Women’s Programs (333-3137) provides programs and services addressing the unique needs of women students. Issues addressed include dating abuse, sexual assault, women returning to college, body image, harassment, and campus safety. Some scholarships are available through this office.
Safety: In times of emergency or crisis, always seek assistance! Besides the Office of Women’s Programs, there are several other services to call if you are the victim of harassment, abuse, or assault. Gather good advice, but you can always refuse further assistance if it is not right for you. The Emergency Dean (333-0050) provides information to students in an emergency situation and is a resource for where to turn for help. The Rape Crisis Services (384-4462 or 1-800-656-HOPE) is the crisis hotline for central Illinois. The Counseling Center (333-3704) provides individual counseling, couples counseling, therapeutic services, and self-help groups, and the services are fully paid for through student fees. The Counseling Center also deals with rape counseling as well as alcohol and drug assessment and counseling, eating disorder counseling, study skills development, and more.
For safe evening transportation, call NiteRides (333-3184). This service provides free rides for students in need of secure campus transportation between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. when school is in session. NiteRides is housed in the University Police Department. The MTD also offers the MTD SafeRides (265-7433) program.
The UIUC Division of Public Safety (333-1216) offers courses in R.A.D., or Rape Aggression Defense. The R.A.D. system is for women only and teaches realistic, self-defense tactics and techniques.
UIUC and officials of both Champaign and Urbana are working to improve pedestrian safety on campus following bus-pedestrian accidents. As pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers, please be safety conscious!
Other Phone Numbers
- Child Care:
Child Care Resource Service: 333-3252; 244-9666 (TTY)
Dialup Number for Modems (free access): 333-3700
- ID Center: 244-0135
- Illini Union:
Info Desk: 333-4636
Ticket Central: 333-5000
- Office of Admissions and Records:
Records Service: 333-0210
Registration Assistance: 333-6565
- Office of Equal Opportunity & Access:
333-0885; 244-9850 (TTY)
- Office of Student Financial Aid: 333-0100
- Student Health Insurance: 333-0165
- Student Accounts/Cashiers: 333-2180
- Student Legal Service: 333-9053
- University Police:
Non-emergency: 333-1216; 244-7209 (TTY)
Emergency: 9-911 (on campus); 911 (off campus)
The Boardman’s Art Theater (355-0068) is in “trendy” downtown Champaign at 126 W. Church St. The theater features art films and is commercial free. Some of the summer shows are Wu Ji, L’enfant, and Water.
The commercial movie theaters include the Carmike Beverly Cinemas (359-5687) and the Goodrich Savoy 16 Theater (355-3456). Both offer student discounts and stadium seating. The Beverly is in northwest Champaign at 910 Meijers Dr., while the Savoy 16 is just south of Champaign at 223 Burwash Ave. in Savoy.
For a drive-in theater, travel to Gibson City, approximately 45 minutes northwest of Champaign, for the Harvest Moon Drive-in Theater (784-8770; 1-877-546-6843).
To rent a movie, check out That’s Rentertainment (384-0977), which has the most extensive collections in town. It is the last locally owned and operated video store in Champaign-Urbana and specializes in international, independent, classic American, and art films on DVD. Membership is free, and it is in a convenient on-campus location at 516 E. John. Of course, there are plenty of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores. You can also rent videos from the UIUC library, the Urbana Free Library, and the Champaign Public Library.
There are a few museums on campus. The Spurlock Museum (333-2360) at 600 S. Gregory St. in Urbana, the Krannert Art Museum (333-1861) at 500 E. Peabody Dr. in Champaign, and the Illini Union Art Gallery in the Illini Union host various exhibitions and programs.
The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum (352-5895) in downtown Champaign at 346 N. Neil St. is housed in the historic Orpheum Theater. Just outside of Monticello, approximately 30 minutes southwest of Champaign, is the Robert Allerton Park (762-7011). The estate includes 1500 acres of formal gardens, nature areas, and manor house and is used as a conservation area for education, research, and recreation. The park is open all year but hosts camps and concerts in the summer months.
Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, of course, are close enough to visit for museum outings. Some of Chicago’s amazing museums include Jane Addams Hull-House Museum; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Field Museum; The Museum of Science and Industry; and the Shedd Aquarium. Sights in St. Louis include the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site; The Gateway Arch; and the “Dred Scott” Old Courthouse. In Indianapolis, check out the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum; and the NCAA Hall of Champions.
For an evening of dance, drama, or music, look no further than the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 500 S. Goodwin Ave. in Urbana on UIUC’s campus. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling 333-6280 or 333-9714 (TTY). This amazing building houses several state-of-the-art performance halls. Make your reservations early for the marquee events, as they tend to sell out! Since Krannert receives funding from your student fees, students are rewarded with discounts for over 300 performances each year. You will certainly want to take advantage of this center.
Off campus, The Station Theater (384-4000), at 223 N. Broadway in Urbana’s old train station, offers local productions of dramas, comedies, and the occasional musical in an intimate setting. In Champaign, the larger Virginia Theater (356-9063) at 203 W. Park shows films, stages revues and plays, features musicians and bands, and hosts the annual Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival. The alumnus Roger Ebert conducts the weeklong “Ebertfest”; buy tickets early as events sell out.
The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, as previously mentioned, is a premier venue for jazz performances, symphony concerts, operas, etc.
Champaign-Urbana has a long history of cultivating musicians. Most coffee houses and bars regularly host local talent, and the music scene offers an array of possibilities for live music. Look for signs posted on campus, and read the weekly free newspaper, Buzz, for upcoming concerts.
To nurture your country roots, try the Rose Bowl Tavern at 106 N. Race in Urbana, which regularly hosts a live country band and features line dancing. On campus at 708 S. Goodwin in Urbana, The Canopy Club features a variety of live music several days a week. The Channing-Murray Foundation, a nonprofit religious foundation, at 1209 W. Oregon in Urbana holds programs, concerts, and receptions.
Here is a small sampling of local bars. In downtown Champaign, you will find Jupiter’s at 39 E. Main. Jupiter’s serves delicious pizza and features billiards. To catch sports and to drink outside, try The Esquire Lounge at 106 N. Walnut. The patio and pool tables are quite popular and often crowded. Bars with outdoor seating and more extensive menus include Guido’s at 2 E. Main and Cowboy Monkey at 6 Taylor St., which also features live music. Try the Boltini Lounge at 211 N. Neil St. for an impressive array of martinis and The Blind Pig Company at 120 N. Walnut for a great collection of beer. Mike and Molly’s at 105 N. Market is a pleasant sliver of a bar with a fabulous beer garden for the summer months. In downtown Urbana, Crane Alley at 115 W. Main has regional and international beers, a substantial menu, and billiards. There are many bars in campustown, but Murphy’s Pub at 604 E. Green mixes undergraduate and graduate students and non-students in a friendly atmosphere.
Campus and Campustown
Campustown continues to grow and change, so here are some excellent standbys. There are many more restaurants to discover on your own! The Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant at 1209 W. Oregon is underground and offers exclusively vegetarian cuisine. This co-op makes incredible soups, entrees, sandwiches, salads, and baked treats for lunch. The Herring boasts a cheerful staff and gets crowded during its limited hours. The Bread Company at 706 S. Broadway features homemade soups and fresh breads for lunch, with a nice selection of baked goods for dessert. At night, the lights dim and the tablecloths come out. The Jerusalem Restaurant at 601 S. Wright offers all your Middle Eastern favorites like hummus, falafel, couscous, dolmeh, and tabouli. A popular lunch spot is The Y Thai Eatery in the University YMCA on Wright St. It is open daily for lunch and serves a limited selection of Thai food with daily specials. It’s warm, filling, and cheap and provides great seats for group discussions. Za’s Italian Cafe at 629 E. Green delivers inexpensive but good paninis, pastas, and pizzas. They can usually accommodate their large lunch crowds. The new El Charro at 55 E. Green offers authentic and delicious Mexican food; it is also a grocery store. Above and beyond the rest of campustown cuisine is Café Luna at 313 E. Green. This restaurant boasts a “European” menu, serving soups and sandwiches for lunch and tapas and entrees for dinner. Save room for the flourless chocolate cake! At 710 S. Goodwin, Timpone’s is in campustown, but the gourmet Italian restaurant is not of the campustown variety. They offer nightly specials and have a long wine and dessert list.
The Courier Café at 111 N. Race in downtown Urbana is one of the few restaurants in town that seems to please everyone! This local favorite opens every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their breakfasts, burgers, salad bar, and amazing shakes are very popular. Up the street lies the much more expensive Silvercreek, 402 N. Race. The setting can be romantic, and the food seems to be worth the price. The recently opened Siam Terrace presents traditional Thai dishes and features several weekly specials. The staff is attentive, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the food is superb. Milo’s Restaurant in the defunct Lincoln Square Mall has the puzzling, but delectable, upside-down pizza and other excellent entrees. While there are several good restaurants that serve Tex-Mex and Mexican fare, El Toro at 1104 N. Cunningham Ave. continues to be popular for its good service and reasonable prices.
In downtown Champaign, The Great Impasta at 132 W. Church seems to buzz and offers fresh pasta dishes and huge specialty salads. The lunch-sized portions are more affordable, which also allows you to save room for dessert. The family-owned and oriented Italian restaurant Dom’s Patio Villa at 301 Locust St. can be difficult to find but worth the effort. Equally out of the way, Farren’s Pub and Eatery at 308 N. Randolph offers better-than-average pub food, including lovely salads and cheese and fruit plates. Radio Maria, long considered extremely hip and apparently quite popular, at 119 N. Walnut, perhaps should be tried and judged for oneself. It has an excellent, and expensive, Sunday brunch.
The newly opened bacaro at 113 N. Walnut has been receiving rave reviews for fine dining, while the just-as-recent Pekara at 116 N. Neil has been doing well as a bistro and bakery. At 1407 N. Prospect, Dos Reales offers a large variety of freshly prepared Mexican cuisine and large margaritas. Some regard it as the best Mexican restaurant in town. Merry-Ann’s Diner, a local favorite,is an informal, traditional diner with a new location at 1 E. Main. It is one of the few places in town open 24 hours. Basmati at 302 S. First offers good Indian dishes with a large selection of vegetarian entrees. Kamakura Japanese Restaurant at 715 S. Neil serves freshly prepared sushi and sashimi among other delectable items.
Champaign has the great majority of chain restaurants, including such standards along the North Prospect strip as Red Lobster, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, Applebee’s, Outback Steakhouse, Bennigan’s, and Smokey Bones. A little further afield, is Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano at 2235 S. Neil with a large menu of fresh pastas, soups, and salads and Panera Bread at 1765 W. Kirby with great bakery items. Famous Dave’s Barbeque at 1900 Round Barn Rd. is actually housed in an old round barn.
Champaign-Urbana, like any good college town, has several coffee houses. They are all excellent places to meet, greet, and retreat. Espresso Royale is found all over campus at 1117 W. Oregon, in the Illini Union, at 602 E. Daniel St., and in the Undergraduate Library. These convenient sites offer affordable coffees, teas, muffins, scones, and lunchables. If you are meeting someone at “Espresso Royale,” be sure to designate which one. Moonstruck Chocolate Café at 709 S. Wright is a chocolate house; there is nothing else to say.
Off campus, Café Kopi at 109 Walnut in downtown Champaign provides an escape from campus. The café is delightful, provides truly excellent drinks and food items. A few blocks away, Aroma at 118 N. Neil also has a cozy, comfortable atmosphere with good coffee and popular food and sweets. Both coffee shops provide free wi-fi. Check out Café Paradiso at 801 S. Lincoln in Urbana for the perfect chai latte and delicious soups and sandwiches. This café is pleasantly offbeat and has free wi-fi.
Both Borders at 802 W. Town Center and Barnes & Noble 65 E. Marketview also are located in northern Champaign. Barnes & Noble features a Starbucks café with Cheesecake Factory selections. Pages For All Ages at 1201 Savoy Plaza in Savoy, just south of Champaign, is quite charming and is one of the region’s largest independent bookstores.
There are three bookstores on campus and in campustown: Follett’s Bookstore at 627 S. Wright St.; TIS College Bookstore at 707 S. Sixth St.; and the Illini Union Bookstore at 809 S. Wright St. Comparison shop because prices often vary from store to store and a book that is missing at one might be found at another. They all offer used and new titles.
For more on used books, check out the following stores: Jane Addams Book Shop at 208 N. Neil in Champaign with three floors of used books; Old Main Book Shop at 116 N. Walnut in Champaign; and Priceless Books at 108 W. Main in Urbana with an online search capacity.
Champaign-Urbana is well served with chain grocery stores. There is a Schnucks in both Urbana, at 200 N. Vine, and Champaign, at 109 N. Mattis. County Market in Champaign is at 312 W. Kirby and 2901 W. Kirby Ave. and in Urbana is at 1819 S. Philo Rd. The Aldi’s are located at 3102 E. University Ave. in Urbana and at N. Mattis in Champaign.
There are several other stores that you should know about. The Common Ground Food Cooperative at 403 S. Wright St. in Champaign is closest to campus and has natural foods, fresh baked goods, deli items, locally grown produce, vitamins, etc. The co-op is owned by its workers, so there is a nominal, refundable membership fee. If you choose to work for an hour or so a week, the groceries are cheaper, and you meet new people. The World Harvest International Gourmet Foods at 519 E. University in Champaign and Euro Mart at 48 E. Springfield specialize in Middle Eastern and South Asian food supplies and ingredients. Try Am-Ko Oriental Foods & Gifts at 101 E. Springfield in Champaign, which is large and diverse. Annapoorna at 505 S. Neil St. in Champaign is the new Indian grocery store.
Strawberry Fields at 306 W. Springfield in Urbana is relatively upscale but has a great selection of natural foods, bulk spices, and organic produce. There is a wonderful café and deli connected to the store, which features delicious salads, outstanding hummus, and marinated, barbequed tofu. Several “gourmet” shops have opened, including Persimmon Grocery at 111 N. Walnut in Champaign, which stocks cheeses and wines. The Walnut Street Tea Company at 115 S. Walnut in Champaign has an extensive array of teas, coffee beans, and spices, as well as packaged chocolates, biscuits, jams, and other temptations.
The best pastries and breads in town are found at Mirabelle Fine Pastry at 124 W. Main in Urbana. The Corkscrew at 203 N. Vine in Urbana stocks high-end wine, beer, and liquor and hosts wine tasting events. The only place to buy fresh fish in Champaign-Urbana is The Great American Seafood Company at 1711 W. Kirby Ave. in Champaign. The store has take-home meals and ready-made items