Hear Ye, Hear Ye….Student Voices Wanted
Welcome to the Spring 2016 semester! I hope many of you have had a chance for renewal after the fall semester. For those of you who are just starting out in graduate education, welcome!
This semester, the School of Graduate Studies will be working on developing a Graduate Student Advisory group for the School and the Dean. Many times we may assume what issues are facing graduate students only to be incorrect. I am keenly aware of some issues on your mind: inadequate stipends for Graduate Assistants along with access to health care. There are many other issues that we can address if they are brought to our attention. Our current challenge in formulating such a group is to obtain fair representation of graduate students across disciplines as well as having voices from both Masters and Doctoral students.
Many of you are well aware of the situation that occurred at the University of Missouri in Columbia last semester. What you may have not known is the series of issues started with graduate assistants voicing concern on the loss of some benefits. This began the roller coaster of other issues not addressed in a timely manner coming to the forefront. Here at UMKC we want to be ahead of the curve. Moreover, we will plan to not only create such an advisory group, we will move forward with coordinating issues with our sister campuses within the UM system. The success of this initiative will only be as good as the commitment of the students representing the graduate student body; thus leadership skills are important in such a role. You will hear more from us this semester on the formulation of this advisory group.
We have had many innovations to promote excellence in graduate education at UMKC over the years. In response to your previous feedback I would like to update you on the following initiative: As many of you know, one of the recent changes includes the creation of a new Graduate Student Writing Initiative that started on a smaller scale last semester, but is ramping up its activity this semester. A search is ongoing for a Graduate Writing Specialist to direct this program. Many of you voiced your requests that enhancing writing skills was critical to your success in graduate education. During the Fall 2015 semester, a series of writing workshops was offered for graduate students, a Blackboard organization site was created for “Writing Resources for Graduate Students,” and other resources such as video tutorials were made available on the SGS website. The UMKC Libraries, UMKC Writing Studio, and School of Graduate Studies will continue to collaborate to expand resources through the Graduate Student Writing Initiative. Writing is critical not only for your scholarship as a graduate student, but for success as a future employee. Likewise, we are starting the 3-Minute Thesis this semester to hone in on your oral communication skills so that an educated layperson can better appreciate the work that you do.