Why have the Graduate School emails become verbose and redundant?

Date: March 2017


Hello Deans,

Why are there so many emails regarding the union that seem to be redundant. I’m sure you’re aware of how many grad students you reach with each email, so I would like to wonder why you do not make them more compact, less redundant, and free from error? Five minutes of your time spent proofreading the email, or delaying disseminating information until you can get it 100% correct can ensure that your students can remain productive and work on research that furthers the university’s mission rather than cross referencing your emails trying to distill the ground truth present in them. If each student spends five minutes per email cross referencing it with the previous ones, you can collectively save the university days of wasted research time if that five minutes were spent before sending messages rather than spend by each message recipient.

In previous communication with a professor, I’ve been called “f***** incompetent” for less serious mistakes than getting a key contact’s email wrong. If my research status updates to this professor were as all over the place, redundant, and wasteful of this professor’s time, he would have told me to, “Just f***** get to the point,” or simply stopped talking to me.

I hope this gives you some insight into how myself and other students are feeling when trying to parse the number of emails we are receiving, which brings me to my question: What recently changed in the administration that took away the normally crisp, brief, and easy to digest emails we usually receive and replaced them with the stream of verbose and redundant emails we are now receiving?

-Colorful-language Graduate Student


Dear Colorful-language Graduate Student,

Thank you for your frequent use of the Ask a Dean column as a repeat submitter. 

As I indicated in an earlier response, I sincerely apologize for the correction we had to issue in one email message last week. As I indicated, we were given an incorrect email address, and corrected it as soon as the error was discovered. 

I acknowledge that recent emails associated with the union representation election have been lengthy. Some, like the Notice of Election sent on Friday, March 17, are not communications that we (the Graduate School) write, and we are required to have approval from CGSU/AFT/NYSUT, the University, and in that case, the American Arbitration Association.

In addition, the union representation election process and the May ’16 agreement that guides the overall process require very precise — and sometimes wordy — language to convey the exact meaning.

So, to your question, “what recently changed?” What recently changed is that the Graduate School on these matters is not able to develop our own communications free from third-party influence and requirements as we have been in the past.

Warm regards,


Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School