Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: What's going on in BISI?
A: Visit our Events page or click any of the categories to the right to see only those types of seminars.  
For events in related areas visit:
BISI google events calendar - Subscribe here for automatic updates on events and seminars of interest across the University and in the DC area.

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Q: How do I get a letter from the University regarding my status as a student?
A: This depends on the purpose of the letter-

  • For official Proof of  Registration or Proof of Degree Completion - contact the Registrar's Office
  • For Proof of Financial Status - contact your Payroll Office
  • For confirmation of Academic Standing - contact the BISI Office

Q: How do I know where my Payroll Office is?
A: This is a more complex question than you might expect. First you need to know the following information: 

  • Are you a Teaching Assistant or a Research Assistant? If so you will be paid by the payroll office of an on campus department or college.
  • If a TA what department are you teaching in? The department you teach for is the department that pays you. If you teach BSCI 105 or 106 you are paid by CMNS and need to contact the CMNS payroll office.
  • If an RA what department is your advisor in? The department your advisor is tenured in will be the department that pays you.
  • Are you being fully funded by UMD scholarships/fellowships? In this situation you don't technically have a payroll office because your stipend is deposited into your student account by the Bursar's office. Contact the BISI office if you h ave questions or need assistance. 
  • Are you on an external Fellowship or paid by an institution outside of the University? If yes do you get paid directly by that organization or do they pay you through the University? If you are paid directly by your funding agency you can contact the BISI office if you have concerns but you may need to reach out to your funder as well if you need official proof of funding. If you are paid through a routing number please contact the BISI office or CMNS for assistance.

Q: I am an international student and I need assistance with my visa or I-20 extension. Where do I go?
A: Please start with ISSS and find out what information they need from the program. 

  • our payroll office can write the letter confirming financial support (see above).
  • For basic visa renewals you get get a financial status confirmation letter from payroll and if your country also needs a letter of good standing and a confirmation of registration or intent to register that can be included in the BISI letter.
  • To extend your I-20 you will need a letter of support from your advisor and in some cases you will also need a letter from BISI. Please confirm what you need with ISSS before requesting a letter from the BISI Office.

Q: Where can I get support or training on how to be a better teacher?
A:  The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) has a variety of resources for anyone teaching undergraduates who wants to become a better teacher. CTE provides:

  • A range of campus-wide Workshops and Conversations related to teaching and learning issues;
  • Assistance to departments and colleges in organizing and implementing faculty teaching workshops, TA training activities, and evaluation/support strategies related to improving teaching and learning;
  • Consultation with individuals on particular areas of concern in teaching and learning, research into teaching practice, and implementation of innovative teaching-learning strategies;
  • A regular newsletter, CTE's Teaching and Learning News, which covers events and developments related to teaching and learning across campus;
  • CTE also offers a Teaching Resource Guide that can be downloaded from their website. 

CTE also facilitates a professional development program for graduate teaching assistants University Teaching and Learning Program, as well as the Lilly-CTE Fellows program, and small grants for innovations in teaching and learning. The University Teaching and Learning Program (UTLP) assists in the professional development of graduate teaching assistants as college teachers. At the heart of the UTLP is the philosophy that teaching, like research, is a scholarly activity, one which requires intellectual engagement and public conversation.

Q: What resources are available for me to learn more about using technology effectively in my teaching?
A: The Learning Technologies (LT) group on campus provides support for anyone who wants to learn more about technology and education -  from Canvas to Qualtrics to Prezi.  Workshop topics include learning how to use Canvas more efficiently and the best ways to use clickers in your classroom.  Summer is a great time to attend training sessions with LT offers several training sessions to faculty in June and again in August ( You can also get direct support by making an appointment with an instructional designer who can work with you one-on-one.  Just email ( to set up an appointment. For clicker-specific support, email, and for Canvas-specific support, email

Don't see your question, but think it's a common one? Send it to us at or by using the contact form.