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.

Dr. Julien Kouamé Ph.D. – Evaluation, Measurement and Research

A photo of Dr. Julien Kouamé and his mother Eugenie Adon Brou

On November 7, 2012, Julien Kouamé defended his dissertation. On April 27, 2013, Dr. Kouamé was hooded by his committee chair, Dr. Brooks Applegate, at the Spring 2013 commencement ceremony at University Auditorium. Congratulations to Julien Kouamé upon completion of his Ph.D. in Evaluation, Measurement and Research. The members of his committee are Dr. Brooks Applegate, Professor of Evaluation, Measurement and Research in the Educational Leadership, Research and Technology Department in the College of Education and Human Development, WMU, Dr. Marianne Di Pierro, Director, Graduate Center for Research and Retention, Graduate College, WMU and Dr. Michael Bamberger, Independent Evaluation Consultant and faculty member at the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development. Dr. Kouamé’s dissertation is titled, “Design in Evaluation: Adequacy and Validity of Health Evaluation in the Context of Developing Countries.”
This research looks at International Health Intervention Evaluations (IHIE) by investigating the level of rigor in a sample of IHIEs to determine the ramifications of poorly conducted IHIEs, which can put the health of recipients of the intervention at risk. Since very few IHEIs meet globally established minimum criteria for sound methodology, this is an important area of research. The study also delineates the institutional policies and procedures that govern the evaluations. The research seeks to answer four questions: (1) What are policies, guidelines, and requirements for program evaluation and evaluation reports posed by international donors for evaluators? (2) What are the common types of research designs used to evaluate international health interventions? (3) What are common components and contents of reports from evaluations of international health interventions? (4) What is the level of rigor of those designs used to evaluate international health interventions?
The findings from exploration of these research questions reveals that there is quite a bit of variability and flexibility among the seven organizational evaluation policies and guidelines governing the evaluation of IHIEs. Very few of the interventions use strong evaluation designs to address the impact of each program. The evaluation reports also reflect the extent of the information required for reporting as stipulated by their specific policies and guidelines. This information is often not enough to assess if the purpose of the intervention has been achieved, which compromises the transparency of the evaluation report. Though this study examines a limited number of evaluation reports, its implications suggest that international funding bodies need explicit policies and procedures to guide both program evaluation design and evaluation reporting. Greater attention to evaluation design and the components of the written evaluation report are needed to properly represent program impacts. Coupling more rigorous evaluation designs can fully address program impact and more systematic and comprehensive reporting will provide greater transparency, an important element for international funding bodies.
Julien Kouamé worked for several years for the Graduate Center for Research and Retention as a research assistant to Dr. Marianne DiPierro, director of the center. Before beginning his doctoral studies at WMU in 2006, Julien received a Master’s in Public Health from Emory University in 2004 and worked for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta from 2004-2006. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication in May 2001 from Manchester College in North Manchester, Indiana. In June 1999 he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication and Marketing from EST Loko, Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from whence he hails. He is the first person from his village to earn a degree and is the pride of his 86 year-old-mother, Eugenie Adon Brou. She flew all the way from Ivory Coast alone to be at Julien’s graduation. His father died when he was young and she worked hard as a farmer and midwife to find the money to send him to school, which is not free in his country. Finally she ran out of money and Julien had to drop out. He volunteered with some Peace Corps staffers in his village and became so close with them that they paid his tuition so he could finish high school. He qualified to go to college, but again did not have the tuition. Finally his mentors in the Peace Corps arranged for him to come to the United States to go to Manchester University in Indiana.
Now, twelve years later, Julien has a Ph.D. and works as a research manager at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. There he gathers, analyzes, interprets and shares national and local data through partnerships with nonprofit and neighborhood groups in an effort to assist local and regional nonprofit leaders with decision-making, grant writing, and program evaluation. We congratulate Julien and acknowledge all his hard work and the long journey he has taken to get where he is today, with the help and encouragement of his mother, who is now back home in Ivory Coast.

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.

The Hilltop Review

The Hilltop Review: A Journal of Western Michigan University Graduate Student Research

A photo showing five different issues of the Hilltop Review

The Graduate Student Advisory Committee publishes a journal of student writing and artwork. “The Hilltop Review: A Journal of Western Michigan University Graduate Student Research” is a peer-reviewed journal. It is intended to be an interdisciplinary journal which provides a venue for sharing the scholarly and creative activities of graduate students from all disciplines at Western Michigan University. It offers a sampling of original and significant findings. Published in hard cover twice a year since 2009, and electronically since 1995, the journal will be issuing its Spring 2013 volume soon. This issue will include articles “An Explanatory Ethnography of the Gendered Communicative Behaviors of Bouncers,” by Nathan M. Swords; “Youths’ Access to Public Space: An Application of Bernard’s Cycle of Juvenile Justice” by Amanda Smith; “Feminist Research Ethics, Informed Consent, and Potential Harms,” by Melinda McCormick; “Bureaucracy and Income Disparity in America,” by Daniel Dougherty; and artwork by students Matt Klepac and Tess Erskine. A short note from the editor precedes the scholarly works. Josh Berkenpas, doctoral student in Political Science, had the tough but rewarding role of editor for two years; for 2013 we have a new editor, Tim Bauer, a doctoral student in Sociology. Tim has served on the Editorial Board of The Hilltop Review since Fall 2011, and continues to work closely with that board to produce the journal. The board includes graduate students, members of the faculty, and officers of the Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC), which sponsors its publication. Tim issues the call for submissions, solicits reviewers, sends the reviewed articles back to the authors for changes, then formats the finished document and sends it to the printer. Copies are distributed to the Graduate Studies Council, the Editorial Board of The Hilltop Review and to current graduate student members of GSAC. Copies of each issue are also sent to the Archives and Regional History Collection at WMU for reference now and in the future. You can see archived copies online at http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/hilltopreview/. The Spring 2013 issue is the first to consider poetry, or what Tim calls “written art.” We look forward to reading the upcoming issue of this outstanding effort by all the contributing WMU graduate students.