2014 Graduate Ambassadors

A new team of Graduate Ambassadors has been chosen and they are actively participating in campus life this fall. A two-day training event in June at the Kellogg Biological Station and Conference Center at beautiful Gull Lake kicked things off as the group bonded and learned about their new responsibilities. Each ambassador has an assigned role in the Graduate Student Association as well as their duties as liaisons between the Graduate College, prospective, new and continuing graduate students, and the colleges and departments. All ambassadors participate in recruitment, retention and outreach activities sponsored by the Graduate College and by GSA. Each also has a role on the GSA Executive Board; as such, they participate in strategic planning and event development and represent the graduate student population to key administrative groups at Western Michigan University.

a photo of sixteen students attending a Graduate Student Association trainins session.  They are all wearing black polo style shirts with a gold W on the front that represents Western.

The new ambassadors and the area each represents follow. Carol Adams-Shearer, M.A. in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology/Higher Education and Student Affairs, reaches out to Extended University Programs students and also acts as representative to the Planning and Finance Faculty Senate committee. Michael Bobbitt, is pursuing a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology. He represents students in the College of Education and Human Development who are in teaching related positions. He also sits on the GSA Executive board as Events Co-Chair. Chartanay Bonner is working on her Ph.D. in Chemistry. She is available to help students in the College of Arts and Sciences in mathematics and science related programs and is also Communications Chair of the GSA Executive Board. Felicia Dotson is pursuing her Master of Arts degree in Blindness and Low Vision Studies. Her position in GSA brings her into contact with many prospective students in the College of Health and Human Services. She is a Student Media Board Representative from GSA to the Western Student Association. Gibril Mohamed works with students in the Haenicke Institution for Global Education while he pursues a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He also sits on the International Education Faculty Council as the graduate student representative. Stephanie Goodman, Ph.D. student in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, is GSA Events Co-Chair and is the Outreach Chair for the GSA Executive Board. Alex Houser is pursuing his Ph.D. in Economics as he represents students in the Haworth College of Business. He is also Co-Communications Chair on the GSA Executive Board. Michael Lindquist, while working on his Master’s degree in Philosophy, represents students in the Humanities and Fine Arts. He also sits on the Faculty Senate Research Policies Council as graduate student representative. Justin Moore is working on his Ph.D. in Psychology and represents students in the social sciences areas of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is also Outreach Co-Chair for GSA. Jesus Romero is pursuing a Master’s in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education and Student Affairs. He is in charge of diversity for GSA and also sits on the Graduate Studies Council as a graduate student representative. Michael Saldana represents the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences while he works on his Masters of Science in Engineering Management. He is also a Student Media Board representative. Danielle Smith is working on her Master of Arts in Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology and is the liaison to the College of Education and Human Development for students in non-teaching programs, and GSA Executive Board Outreach Co-Chair. The Graduate College and the Graduate Student Association are still looking for a graduate ambassador who can represent students in the Veterans and Military Affairs area. If you or someone you know may be interested in this spot, please contact Damon Chambers at gsac-info@wmich.edu.

The New Graduate Student Association

Through a vote of the membership, The Graduate Student Advisory Committee has now officially changed its name to the Graduate Student Association. The change reflects more truly the makeup of the GSA: an association, not a committee, which implies that membership is limited and exclusive. Since all graduate students are automatically members of this campus wide student organization, we wanted a name that reflects the inclusive nature of the group. Damon Chambers, previously the chair, and Marcial Amaury Pineda, previously the vice-chair, have had their titles change to reflect the new order. Damon is now president, and Amaury is now vice-president. Membership includes all graduate students, no matter where they take classes.

a photo of six graduate student representatives of the Graduate Student Association attending a National Convention.  Three women and three men are sitting aroud a small round table in professional atire with matching notebooks in front of them.

A University-sanctioned fee assessed from each graduate student at the beginning of each semester funds activities and initiatives. These include informational and social events for new and returning graduate students, monthly GSA meetings with refreshments, travel to various graduate student conferences throughout the country, and a new series of graduate student presentations called Grad Talks. These are modeled on TED Talks, which feature experts on any subject giving informational talks to an audience of interested listeners. Grad Talks are an excellent way for graduate students to get practice presenting their thesis, dissertation, research ideas, book reviews, journal articles, posters or paper ideas. It is also a good way to prepare for conference presentation. Student contributions will be filmed and published on the GSA website for reference or for future viewing. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to submit by sending an email to gsa@wmich.edu. Grad Talks are open to the public; some seats are reserved for graduate students and their guests who pre-register to attend. For more information on the new GSA, including bylaws, executive board members and directions for applying for funding, please visit their updated website at http://www.wmich.edu/gsa and follow them on Facebook. Call the Graduate College at (269)387-8212 or GSA leadership at (269)387-8207 for information on visiting GSA offices in Walwood Hall on East Campus. A meeting schedule can be found on the GSA website at http://www.wmich.edu/gsa/calendar-activities.

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