Photo: Thomas Loebel, Dean & Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies; Sarah Irwin-Gardner, Manager, Graduate Student Wellness Services; and Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost & Dean, School of Graduate Studies (Queen’s University)

CAGS 2018 Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience (GSE Award)

The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies is excited to announce the results of the 2018 Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience (GSE Award). After much deliberation, the judges have selected the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York University as the winner of this year’s award.

Specifically, CAGS seeks to recognize the outstanding achievements of the Wellness Consultation Service, which provides graduate students at York University with access to specialised mental health resources, consultation, and counselling services. Launched in December 2017, the Wellness Consultation Service aims to promote healthy and well-balanced lifestyles among York’s nearly 6,000 graduate students. The first-of-its-kind program offers fast, accessible, and confidential services, while at the same time removing many of the common barriers that confront graduate students in their path to seeking help.

The Wellness Consultation Service is an innovative program that does much to enhance the graduate student experience at York University. The program has proved to be a welcome addition to existing on-campus services, and to date nearly 80 students have been served. In the future, the Faculty of Graduate Studies plans to expand the program to include more specialised mental health care services for graduate students.

The GSE Award is presented annually by CAGS to a member institution. Its purpose is to encourage, recognize, and reward administrative or programmatic excellence and innovation in enhancing the experience of graduate students, from recruitment through degree completion. This year, CAGS was particularly interested in applications that highlighted the theme of accessibility, including programs that address financial stress, mental health, physical limitations, prejudice, and violence.

The winners of this year’s GSE Award are invited to showcase the program in a workshop held at the CAGS Annual Conference, which will be held in Winnipeg in November. We hope that the Wellness Consultation Service will offer a model for other faculties of graduate studies across Canada.