The Graduate Student Information Fair at the Main Library brings together campus resources and communities of interest to new graduate students.
“It’s the heart of orientation week,” said Peter Thoresen, Operations Coordinator for the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO), “because it begins community building right away.”
“Graduate school can be isolating. It’s important for graduate students to meet students in other departments, not only for interdisciplinary networking, but also to engaging students in the greater IUB commmunity,” Thoresen said.
The GPSO also offers to visit departmental orientations and present on community graduate resources. The program began two years ago, Thorenson said, and in 2009, more than 40 departments took them up on the offer. GPSO expects 50 or more departments to be involved this year.
“Orientation activities provide a great annual opportunity for departments to partner with UGS, the GPSO, and the university libraries.”
Throughout the year, the GPSO works to provide academic support, community building, and advocacy for the IUB graduate student community. This comes in a variety of formats, from networking events to grant support. In 2009-2010, the GPSO awarded approximately $16,000 in travel and research grant aid to current students.
GPSO Travel Awards ($10,000) assist students with travel expenses associated with presenting their work at various conferences, workshops, trainings and competitions.
GPSO Research Awards ($4,000) defray expenses associated with gathering data, conducing experiments and field work.
GPSO Conference Awards ($1,850 ) support conferences held at IUB that engage graduate and professional students.
The IUPUI Graduate Student Organization (GSO) awards individual travel grants for students to travel to research conferences and meetings. The GSO awards several thousand dollars each semester. Assistant Director of the Graduate Office David Koerner is the advisor for the group.
Another student organization, the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization (UPnGO), has also been active in serving graduate students. UPnGO is the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization. A key mission of this organization has been to deliver timely programming to help foster student success in graduate programs.
In 2009-10, UPnGo received the “Most Outstanding Educational Programming Award” from the Office of Student Involvement for their series called “Survive and Thrive in Graduate School.”
Led by Tabitha Hardy, a Bridges to the Doctorate Student, now a postdoctoral student, the organization was advised by the assistant dean in the Graduate Office.
Traditionally, graduate students received their degrees along with undergraduate students in their respective schools. This year on the Bloomington campus, IU added a separate spring ceremony for graduate students receiving master’s and doctoral degrees.
Moving to a separate ceremony for graduate students will allow for more time to focus on their distinct achievements and observe the academic tradition of hooding Ph.D. and doctoral candidates.
“Nothing is being taken away [from the graduation experience],” Dean of the University Graduate School James C. Wimbush said. “What is being added is the opportunity to focus on graduate achievements.”
Associate Dean Maxine Watson, director of OPA, completed two years of service on the Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) at the end of 2009. This association operates at a national level to provide information to and protect the rights of postdoctoral scholars throughout the country. Like many non-profits, the finances of the NPA were strongly impacted by the recession, and the BoD focused on maintaining the solvency of the organization while continuing to spotlight issues relevant to postdoctoral scholars.
OPA continued to collaborate with the Poynter Center in providing a series of workshops on the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), run by Dr. Kenneth Pimple. These workshops first were funded through a seed grant from the NPA and are now fully funded through the OPA. Information was presented in a series of four workshops designed specifically for the IU postdoc population; however OPA found that attendance fluctuated strongly, and some workshops had to be cancelled because of poor participation. In response to the problem, Pimple and Watson decided to provide a certificate of participation to all who attended the full series. The postdocs appeared appreciative of the certificate, and the result so far has been higher enrollment and consistent participation.
The OPA also presented a half-day symposium/poster session in celebration of Postdoc Appreciation Week. The event held on Sept. 21, 2010, highlighted postdoc achievements in research and creative activity, and provided both postdocs and junior faculty with professional development resources.
Dr. Stacy Gelhaus, President of the BoD of the NPA and currently a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of three featured speakers. In recognition of her scientific accomplishments and in support of her own professional development, the Department of Medical Sciences invited Dr. Gelhaus to present a technical seminar on her research in the weekly seminar series.
As of 2009, if departments commit to a new training grant like an IGERT or T32, the University Graduate School (UGS) will now add an additional fellowship stipend for each year the proposal is in effect. The academic school pays the new student’s fee remission.
"It's the equivalent of adding an extra line to their grant budget," said David Daleke, Associate Dean of the University Graduate School.
The availability of this stipend is contingent on the limited availability of UGS funding.