Dean’s Corner: SGS Writing Initiative

A key skill important for succeeding in graduate school and in your career is mastering your writing skills. Those who learn to write in a clear and concise, well-organized manner, to appropriately cite sources according to the requirements of their fields, and to develop a unique writer’s voice have a strong advantage in succeeding in graduate school and their careers.

Recently, Dr. Jennifer Friend, Assistant Dean, led a study to identify specific issues and writing resources for UMKC graduate students.  Surveys and focus groups of graduate students and graduate faculty were part of the study.  More than 500 graduate students and 142 faculty members provided feedback. We learned much from the feedback from these groups. Students and faculty provided suggestions as to what we as a University can do to help them with their writing, especially those writing a thesis or dissertation, but not exclusive to only these students.

A dedicated space for graduate student writing activities was a consistent theme obtained.  Short courses, online tutorials, writing retreats and individual mentoring by skilled staff and faculty were some of the suggestions made.

A graduate student writing advisory committee has been formed to direct initiatives to enhance graduate student writing resources.  To some extent this group parallels the undergraduate writing committee.  The committee is composed of faculty, students, librarians and the Director of the UMKC Writing Studio.

Discussions with Director Thomas Ferrel of the Writing Studio led to an agreement to have dedicated space for graduate students in the Atterbury Student Success Center. Dedicated computers for graduate student writing, software for data analysis and scholarly writing, tables, and secure storage are planned to be added to the Writing Studio. Graduate students will be able to reserve time to work at the Writing Studio computer stations.  One activity to help bring this project to a fruition, is a crowd funding initiative to begin in February 2015 to raise $6,000 to implement this plan.  Faculty and students will see an announcement of this initiative shortly.

Another important resource we have proposed is a partnership with the Emeritus College where there are scores of retired faculty members who have a lifetime of experience in directing student writing. Emeriti Faculty will be invited to mentor graduate students with their writing and to help plan and facilitate writing workshops and retreats.

The Spring 2015 semester will include the launch of a new web page on the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) website with graduate student writing resources (see “Current Students” menu), and a Blackboard organization site available for all graduate students. Information related to on-campus and online resources for graduate writing will be available through the Blackboard site and the SGS website. A key element that students felt was important is the ability to share with each other their own drafts of writing for peer feedback. The Blackboard site includes space for students to form on-campus and online peer writing groups. A good example of an online tutorial recently developed on plagiarism is available to view at:

Future plans include the development of additional online tutorials such as: creating research questions, formatting and editing requirements, plagiarism prevention, how to write a proposal/thesis/dissertation, technical and scientific writing, writing a literature review, discipline specific writing, grant writing, and submission of articles for publication. The Committee will develop a guide on available UMKC Writing Resources, and explore the possibility of having the School of Graduate Studies supply a GTA to help with the activities at the Writing Studio to lead these efforts.


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Important Dates to Remember for Spring 2015

Tues., January 20, 2015           First day of Spring classes

Mon., February 16, 2015          Last day to apply for May graduation

February TBA                             Thesis/Dissertation formatting workshop

March 23 – 27, 2015                 Spring break

Fri., April 3, 2015                      Deadline for submitting theses/dissertations for format                                                                            review by SGS

Fri., May 15, 2015                     Deadline for completing defense of thesis/dissertation

May 15 – May 17, 2015            Spring graduation

Fri., May 29, 2015                    Deadline for submitting theses/dissertation to ProQuest

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Spring announcements

50th Anniversary fundraising update Since July 2014, when the SGS 50th Anniversary celebration began, we have raised a total of $15,780 toward our $20,000. We are incredibly grateful to all our donors, and we hope you all will help us … Continue reading

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Work study student is just getting started with career plans

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“I then decided to hang up my track shoes and put all my focus into getting my degree,” she said. “When I started doing my research, I found out that UMKC had a really good Criminal Justice program. Also, I … Continue reading

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Conservatory assistant professor continuously expands research interests

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Dr. Melita Belgrave, assistant professor in Music Therapy, has been part of the UMKC community for six years. “I was drawn to UMKC because of the music therapy program and the location of the university, which provides many opportunities for … Continue reading

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Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student and IDSC Vice President seeks non-traditional career after obtaining her degree

Harika Vemula is the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Student Council Vice President and a student in Pharmaceutical Sciences and Chemistry. As IDSC VP, she connects with students and professors from different disciplines. “IDSC works with SGS to help make graduate school experience … Continue reading

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Dean’s Corner: Fifty dollars for 50 years!

Last spring semester, I wrote to you that the fall 2014 semester would begin our celebration and recognition of our 50th Birthday. Our slogan is “Fifty dollars for 50 years!” during this milestone. I am asking that you seriously consider … Continue reading

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Important Dates to Remember for Fall 2014

Mon., August 25, 2014                   First day of Fall classes Mon., September 1, 2014              University Closed for Labor Day holiday Fri., September 12, 2014               School of Graduate Studies 50th Anniversary Reception – Administrative Center, Plaza Room and 300F, 3:30 – 5:00pm Sat., … Continue reading

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SGS 50th Anniversary Celebration Reception Fri., September 12, 2014 Reception 3:30 – 5:00pm, following the joint Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Executive Committee And Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Coordinators and Administrative Liaisons meeting UMKC Administrative Center 5115 Oak Street Plaza Room, 2nd floor and SGS, 3rd … Continue reading

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SGS Employee Spotlight: Colleen Kelly

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In her time at UMKC, Project Director Colleen Kelly served as a graduate intern in Admissions and a staff member in Alumni and Constituent and Relations before moving over to the School of Graduate Studies. She describes herself as a … Continue reading

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