Dean’s Message

One definition for commencement states that it is “a ceremony at which students receive academic degrees”. A couple of weeks ago during our summer commencement ceremonies, I had the privilege to congratulate 31 new doctoral recipients and nearly 400 students who earned either masters or graduate certificates. It is truly a joyous occasion for each student, their family, and the university. I am proud to be a part of the celebration. The word commencement also is defined as the moment when something begins. In talking with the graduates I learned of the many new opportunities they will be embarking on, from exciting postdoctoral and new faculty positions to jobs in industry or advancements in their current workplace that come as a result of the advanced degree.

Summer also brings an opportunity for the Graduate College to engage our students in extensive professional development opportunities that will contribute to their overall success. One such opportunity we have developed this year in conjunction with the Office of Faculty Development is a weeklong teaching institute. The goal of the institute is help graduate students assess their teaching practices, refine teaching and learning approaches, and improve communication for diverse learners. We are excited and thankful that the Office of the Provost has agreed to help support this inaugural institute but will be seeking outside support and donors to make this institute a yearly reality. If you are interested in making a contribution to this effort just indicate Graduate College and Teaching Institute on your donation.

Wishing you all the best for a wonderful and sunshine filled summer.

Susan R. Stapleton, Ph.D.

Dean, Graduate College
A photo of Dr. Susan Stapleton, Dean of the Graduate College

2014 Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Awards

The Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Awards were established in 1998 by the Graduate Studies Council to recognize effective teaching done at WMU by graduate students as assistants to faculty, as independent instructors, or in other capacities that directly promote and facilitate student learning. Please join the Graduate College in offering congratulations to the recipients of Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Awards. These students were nominated by their department. The 2013-2014 All-University Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Award recipients are Andrea Bierema, Mallinson Institute for Science Education; Franklin Cline, English; Jack Goodman, History; Elizabyth Hiscox, English; Jennifer Marson, Sociology; Brad Pulverenti, Music; Michael Romano, Political Science; and Rachael Tilka, Psychology. The 2013-2014 Department Graduate Teaching Effectiveness award recipients are Kofi Acheampong, economics; Bilge Altay, Chemical and Paper Engineering; Benjamin Armey, Family and Consumer Sciences; Kristina Bailey, Political Science; Rudy Bartels, Geography; Kyle Byron, Comparative Religion; Jerusa Carvajal-Villamar, Spanish; Ting Chen, Chemical and Paper Engineering; Andrew Clay, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology; Franklin Cline, English; Rachel Crouse, Spanish; Kelly Current, Chemistry; Joanne DeWit, Nursing; Kelcie Douglas, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology; Janice Fulford, Mallinson Institute for Science Education; Rieti Gengo, Anthropology; Timothy Glidewell, Chemistry; Yih Wen Goh, Biological Sciences; Jack Goodman, History; Camila Guerrero, Civil and Construction Engineering; Elizabyth Hiscox, English; Darshika Keerthisinghe, Physics; Vincent Krause, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Marisha Lecea, Political Science; Anne Lundquist, Educational Leadership, Research and Technology; Jacob Job, Biological Sciences; Precious Majors, Educational Leadership, Research and Technology, Jennifer Marson, Sociology; Kevin Murphy, Philosophy; Brad Pulverenti, Music; Madhuri Revalla, Computer Science; Angie Sanchez, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Katelyn Sandor, Communication; Dustin Smith, Mathematics; Alberta Stover, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences; Rachael Tilka, Psychology; Lindsay Toth, Human Performance and Health Education; and Jessica Urschel, Psychology. A reception and awards ceremony gave these deserving students a chance to shine with family, friends, and faculty.

2014 Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Awards

The Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Awards were established in 1986 by the Graduate Studies Council to acknowledge graduate students’ contributions to the scholarly and artistic productivity of Western Michigan University. Students eligible for the award are nominated by their department; a selection committee then winnows the All-University recipients from among the Department Graduate Research and Creative Scholars recipients. The 2013-2014 All-University Graduate Student Research and Creative Scholars awards went to Ahmed Anzaldua, Music; Traci Brimhall, English; Kevin Douglass, Chemistry; Min Tang, Philosophy; and Samanthi Wickramarachchi, Physics. The Department Graduate Student Research and Creative Scholar awards went to David Alban, Educational Leadership, Research and Technology; Elissa Allen, Bronson School of Nursing; Ahmed Anzaldua, Music; Joel Armstrong, English; Manuel Martin Barros, Spanish; Nivedita Bhadarka, Economics; Ee Leng Choong, Biological Sciences; Traci Brimhall, English; Kelly Current, Chemistry; Alden Edson, Mathematics; Ali Eshkeiti, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Jamie Gomez, Anthropology; Michelle Hruska, Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies; Connie Kohler, Family and Consumer Sciences; Sayuri Kojima, Educational Leadership, Research and Technology; Adam Matthews, History; Eric Mendes, Comparative Religion; Ann Moenke, School of Public Affairs and Administration; Jacinta Mutambuki, Mallinson Institute for Science Education; Chinh Nguyen, Electrical and Computer Engineering; Lisa Oliphant, Speech Pathology and Audiology; Mary Peet, Psychology; Jyoti Rai, Economics; Matthew Reid, Sociology; Michael Romano, Political Science; Mohammad Salahuddin, Computer Science; Katelyn Sandor, Communication; Joshua Scott, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences; Raymond Sheets, Jr., Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology; Amanda Smith, Sociology; Danielle Smith, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology; Min Tang, Philosophy; Viraj Thanthirige, Chemistry; John Mary Vianney, Biological Sciences; Rachel Whitney, Speech Pathology and Audiology; Samanthi Wickramarachchi, Physics; Nanda Wijayanti, School of Public Affairs and Administration. Please join us in congratulations these outstanding students. The Graduate College hosted an awards ceremony on April 24 to honor the recipients of this prestigious award.

Meet Angie Phelps and Jodi Ward

The Graduate College is excited to welcome two new employees this spring semester. Jodi Ward worked most recently as associate director of operations in the Office of Admissions before starting at the Graduate College as our systems analyst. Jodi got her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in psychology and obtained a Master of Arts degree in human resources development at WMU. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in educational leadership with a concentration in organizational analysis here at Western.

Photos of Angie Phelps and Jodi Ward placed side-by-side.  These are official university photos with a grey background.

Jodi started out at WMU as a college recruiter whose territory was the east side of Michigan, including Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lower Wayne and Monroe counties. She also coordinated the Medallion competition. After five years she was promoted to transfer coordinator, where she managed recruitment efforts at the 28 Michigan community colleges. Most recently, she directed the processes, policies and procedures for application processing in the Office of Admissions. She has especially enjoyed the diversity of staff, faculty and students with whom she has had the privilege to work.
In her new position Jodi is excited about leading the implementation of the new Apply Yourself tool for graduate applications. There is a lot of work to be done to convert to this new system but the process should be much smoother for both prospective students and functional users at WMU.
Jodi spends her spare time cheering at Bronco sporting events with her husband and eight-year-old son. She attends most practices and games her son plays in, which keeps her busy, as he is involved in football, basketball, and baseball. She also likes to kayak when the weather cooperates.
Angie, our new finance analyst, attended Lake Superior State University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in general university studies. Angie began her career at Western Michigan University as an office assistant in the math department in 1999, and then transferred into the history department as an office associate in 2001. In 2002 she moved into the dean’s office of the College of Arts and Sciences to become a finance analyst. She appreciates the opportunity to form lasting relationships through working with people from across campus.
As for time away from campus, Angie loves to be by the water. Lake Huron is her favorite Great Lake. She and her husband of almost 15 years, Jerry, frequently travel to Lake Michigan to enjoy sunsets and the incredible ice formations in winter. She likes to entertain her friends and family with bonfires in the backyard, and camping is on her list of favorite activities. She has three daughters, ages 22, 20 and 18, and a beautiful baby grandson.
Angie’s new position as finance analyst involves working closely with Virginia Bowlby, coordinator of graduate appointments. As she adjusts to life in a new environment she looks forward to working with the staff and students of the Graduate College. It is a team-oriented office where she can use her talents and help where she is needed.

We are all glad to welcome both Angie and Jodi to our staff, where they are much appreciated for their expertise and hard work as well as their fun personalities.

News from the Graduate Student Advisory Committee

  • This Spring Break a group of graduate students from the Graduate Student Advisory Committee traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS). They joined forces to lobby for issues of concern to graduate students, mainly the high levels of debt many graduate students accumulate while pursuing their degrees. They met with representatives and senators to express their concerns during the NAGPS Spring 2014 Advocacy Summit and Legislative Action Days, March 1 through 4.

  • In other news, GSAC has put to a vote of the full membership a name change for the organization. In order to better reflect its constituency, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee will change its name to Graduate Student Association. All graduate students are automatically members of GSAC, or GSA. The name change will become effective July 1, 2014. Each student pays fees to the University that go toward the operation and funding of a number of initiatives to benefit graduate students. These initiatives include programs, events, operational funding, development workshops or seminars, and bringing speakers to campus. Funding decisions are made through GSAC, so if any graduate students want to be involved in how their money is being spent, they are encouraged to come to the meetings. All graduate students are urged to become active members by attending meetings which are usually held once a month on the third Friday from 2:30-5 p.m. These hours are subject to change.

  • Another initiative led by Damon Chambers, Chair, and The E-Board, is the establishment of Grad Talks, a presentation hosted by the Lee Honors College based on the popular TED Talks. The first Grad Talks were held on February 21 and March 21. These are ten minute talks given by graduate students on any subject they may be passionate about. It could be a study abroad experience, a brief introduction to their research, the contents of a recent paper for a class or a chapter of their dissertation. This experience provides practice in giving presentations, a skill all graduate students must develop to meet their academic, professional or personal goals.

    an image of the W M U Grad Talks logo, The background is dark brown with a yellow square, the words are placed evenly on the square with W M U being in light brown, Grad is displayed in dark brown, and Talks is displayed in white text.  These colors are used in the official Western Michigan University color guidelines.

  • April 6 through 12 was Graduate Appreciation Week in the United States. The National Association of Graduate and Professional Students held its Midwest Regional Conference at Grand Valley State University this spring during Graduate Appreciation Week. This annual conference brings together graduate-professional student leaders from the Midwest region to network, share best practices, discuss common issues, and brainstorm possible solutions. Representatives from WMU attended this conference and reported a good turnout and useful workshops.

2013 Graduate Fall Welcome

A wonderland of candles, golden table draperies, and exotic foods appeared in the West Ballroom of Bernhard Center on September 5th for the Graduate Student Advisory Committee’s annual Fall Welcome for Graduate Students. Members of GSAC, including Vice Chairperson Rebecca Sametz, Stephany Coffman-Wolph, and Chairperson Damon Chambers, designed the event as a “welcome back” for all graduate students. Around 250 graduate students gathered to enjoy a beautiful evening of music, friendship, and fun, listening to the smooth jazz sounds of the Dan Willenberg Trio, with Dan Willenberg on piano, Denis Shebukhov on bass, and Dave Van Haren on drums.

a photo of two international Graduate Students enjoying the fall welcome
Two International Students Enjoying the Fall 2013 Welcome

Chambers, a Blindness and Low Vision master’s student, student employee chef for Bernhard Center, and new Chair of GSAC, drew on his own Jamaican heritage to inspire the delicious food for the event. Students enjoyed hors d’oeuvres of fried plantains and roasted sweet potatoes with pomegranate seeds made from a special recipe Damon created, as well as corn bread with honey butter which was a big hit with the crowd. This was a unique request by Damon based on a popular dish in Jamaica. Later in the evening, funk jazz band Fusion Base (Marcus Johnson on saxophones, Bryan Blowers on guitar, and Dave Van Haren returning on drums) got the crowd dancing to the beat as students got to know each other and enjoyed themselves. The gathering was a diverse mix of American and International students, many of whom were just starting at Western. The event followed the Graduate College Resource Fair, which ran from 3-6 pm in the adjoining ballroom, at which graduate students could meet and greet representatives of various departments and units across campus and the community. Participants included Sindecuse Health Center, University Libraries, University Recreation, the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, Career and Student Employment Services, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Miller Auditorium, HSIRB Research Compliance, Teaching Assistants Union, Faculty Development and more. Graduate College staff were on hand to greet and mingle with the students. Altogether, the fair and welcome celebration provided a great opportunity to get to know new students and to see returning students who stopped in to say “hi.”

a photo of two international graduate students enjoying the food at the fall welcome
Two International Graduate Students Enjoying the Food at the Fall 2013 Welcome

a photo of Three Graduate Students Talking at the Fall 2013 Welcome
Three Graduate Students Talking at the Fall 2013 Welcome

a photo of Graduate College Staff  at the Fall 2013 Welcome
Graduate College Staff at the Fall 2013 Welcome

a photo of the Dan Willenberg Trio performing at the Fall 2013 Welcome
The Dan Willenberg Trio perform at the Fall 2013 Welcome

a photo of students dancing at the fall welcome
Graduate Students dance to the band at the Fall 2013 Welcome

Did you know? – Professional Email Etiquette in 12 Easy Steps

Professional Email Etiquette in 12 Easy Steps

1. Address Email Recipients by Name

2. Write a Definitive Subject Heading

3. Identify Yourself and State Your Intentions Briefly

4. Attach Documents

5. Say “Thank You”

6. Include a Valediction or Complimentary Close

7. Use a Formal Signature and a Professional Email Address

8. Check Grammar, Mechanics, Tone

9. Review Your Email Before Sending

10. Acknowledge Receipt Within 48 Hours

11. When Necessary, Make a Phone Call instead

12. Never Send An Email When You are Angry or Upset

Dean’s Message

The signs of spring are finally around us here in Michigan, trees are budding, flowers are blooming and graduation is on the thoughts of many. In fact, Western Michigan University conferred degrees to 2727 students on April 27 and over 600 of those who received their degree were graduate students. We are so proud of our graduates and know that they will have successful futures.

Other signs of spring at universities usually include fewer undergraduate students on campus as well as a time of intense study for graduate students. For graduate students it is a time to conduct research, to engage in creative work, to build the professional portfolio or to write the thesis or dissertation. It is also a time when funding opportunities for graduate students are most limited. Thus within the Graduate College we are committed to fundraising for scholarships for our graduate students that help sustain the legacy of WMU as a top research institution. Consider helping us in that endeavor and make a donation to the Graduate College today.

Susan R. Stapleton, Ph.D.

Dean, Graduate College
A photo of Dr. Susan Stapleton, Dean of the Graduate College

Did you know?

The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at WMU provides Veterans, Service Members, and family members of Veterans with guidance and mentorship in a variety of areas. These include, but are not limited to, academic support, benefit support, answers to questions regarding WMU or the VA, and the Western Michigan University community. The military offers a variety of VA educational benefits. Western Michigan University accepts the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill, and the Yellow Ribbon Program. If you or someone you know is interested in details about the costs of attending Western, or how to initiate benefits, please contact Western Michigan University’s Veterans Affairs Representative Brenda Hamlyn at 3210 Siebert Administration Building, by e-mail at brenda.hamlyn@wmich.edu or by phone at (269) 387-4115. Western also accepts a mini GI bill, which covers tuition for an initial semester of enrollment. This makes it easier for a veteran to transition quickly from active service to student life. WMU recognizes veterans and their families as Michigan residents so they can take advantage of in-state tuition rates. The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs at WMU is an active campus support program and advocacy office for helping veterans and active-duty National Guard members transition in and out of academic life. The director is Tracey Quada; she can be reached at military-affairs@wmich.edu or at (269) 387-4444. Office hours are 9 a.m. to five p.m. Monday through Friday in 1260 Ellsworth Hall.

Carson Leftwich

A photo of Carson Leftwich

Carson Leftwich is the first person you see when you come into the Graduate College. As Office Associate, she works the front desk, among her many roles. She spends quite a bit of time on the phone, answering questions, guiding prospective graduate students through the admissions process, and referring calls to the respective departmental graduate advisors. Carson is an editor and writer who produces the Graduate College’s articles for the “Prism” newsletter and the “Graduate Standard.” She guides two fellowships, the Thurgood Marshall and the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) through the application and award process. She also handles the calendar of Tony Dennis, Director of Graduate Student Research and Retention, making sure he gets to and from his recruiting events across the country. When he has a schedule conflict she stands in for him at recruiting events. She assists with the Graduate Research and Creative Scholars and Graduate Teaching Effectiveness awards in the Spring and coordinates the AGEP Dissertation Writing Retreat in May. It is difficult to pin her down to one job category as she wears many hats since coming to the Graduate College in June, 2008. Carson has her B.A. in History from Western and an M.A. in History from WMU as well. She taught part-time at Western for 13 years after getting her Master’s. She is currently working on a certificate program in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology. She and her husband, Kirk, have two grown children and enjoy spending time at Lake Michigan, socializing with friends, antiquing, traveling up north to the Leelanau Peninsula, and attending vintage Volkswagen events.