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Updates in Academic Affairs - January 28, 2014

Latest class of Graduate College Faculty Fellows selected

Dr. Julie Apker and Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer have been named Graduate College Faculty Fellows for 2014.

The fellows program, which launched last year, provides an opportunity for tenured faculty members to collaboratively apply their expertise and leadership skills in advancing graduate education at WMU. Fellows work with the Graduate College dean, staff and other constituents across campus.

The program closely aligns with the Academic Affairs and University strategic plans, particularly in the areas of student and faculty engagement and success, and graduate admissions and enrollment.

The Fellows

An associate professor in the School of Communication, Julie Apker joined the Graduate College as the 2014 Fellow for Student and Faculty Engagement and Success.

Apker has been a member of the WMU faculty since 2001. She teaches and conducts research in organizational and health communication, specializing in health team dynamics, patient-provider interactions and patient safety communication. She is the author of Communication in Health Organizations, published in 2012 by Polity, Inc.

As a fellow, Apker will focus on the graduate student annual review policy, online orientation for all incoming graduate students and on creating mentoring training/plans for graduate program use.

“The fellowship responsibilities center on a goal I am passionate — supporting graduate student and faculty constituencies so they achieve optimal learning and teaching/mentoring experiences,” Apker says.

Louann Bierlein Palmer is a professor of educational leadership, research and technology, and serves as coordinator of the Ph.D. program.

Also a member of the faculty since 2001, Bierlein Palmer’s interests include educational reform and policy issues, as well as systems change.

This will be Bierlein Palmer’s second appointment as a Graduate College Faculty Fellow. While serving last year, she worked with individuals across the University to create detailed program materials for each graduate program offered at WMU, helped compile all policies related to graduate education within the graduate catalog and she helped redesign the college’s website.

During her second tenure as a fellow, Bierlein Palmer will help implement the new online application system for graduate students, facilitate some strategic planning for the Graduate College and work with individuals to consider additional interdisciplinary graduate degrees at WMU.

If the fellows may be of assistance to your department or unit, contact the Graduate College at (269) 387-8212.

Graduate students design new symposium modeled on TED Talks

The Graduate Student Advisory Committee has developed a new graduate student symposium called WMU Grad Talks.

Inspired by TED Talks, the program provides WMU graduate students with an opportunity to have their work published in digital format. Students will have a 10-minute time slot to present their research ideas, book reviews, journal articles, theses and dissertations.

Grad Talks speaker proposal forms are due Thursday, Feb. 13, with the first public presentations scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in the Lee Honors College lounge. Presentations will be filmed and published on the GSAC website.

The next round of Grad Talks speaker proposals are due by 5 p.m. Monday, March 10, with public presentations scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, March 28, in the Lee Honors College lounge.

Find the speaker proposal form and additional information about WMU Grad Talks at, or contact GSAC Chair Damon Chambers at for more information.

This is an excellent opportunity for graduate students to gain valuable experience in making a public presentation and having their work published.

Important upcoming event:

The Faculty Senate and Office of Academic Affairs are co-sponsoring an open forum to discuss Academic Program Review and Planning from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the Fetzer Center’s Putney Auditorium. Additional information regarding APR&P is available on the Office for Institutional Effectiveness website at