Letter from 2014-15 President

Letter from the GPSGA President

Dear Graduate Students, Faculty, Staff, and Administration

It has been an extremely gratifying and fruitful year for the Graduate and Professional Student Government Association’s executive officers and members. As an assembly we have passed a referendum calling for more trainings and teaching development for GTA’s and mentors; the exec team has carefully managed the budget, 

cutting spending in some areas and returning those savings to the graduate and professional student body and; hosted multiple events with great success. This letter will highlight the activities, successes, and changes GPSGA has encountered within the last year as well as my personal reflection as the president of GPSGA during the 2014-2015 academic year.

First, I would like to talk about the success of the annual Welcome Reception organized by our Vice President, AJ Harris which welcomed and celebrated new and returning students here at OSU. We were able to talk about the importance of graduate education at OSU and show new graduate students that their voices are being heard on campus through their elected officials in GPSGA. We were lucky to have over 200 guests during our Welcome Reception and were honored to have so many of our administration present at this event. The success of the welcome reception allowed the executive team to plan more social events over the course of the year which fostered interdepartmental friendships and discussions.

Our social chair, Catherin Haviland, was able to organize a number of different social activities from football tailgates to after meeting cocktail hours and even a day of service to the Stillwater Humane Society. All of these events were designed to help promote interdepartmental conversations in order to encourage interdisciplinary research. Some of the best attended socials had more than 10 academic units and clubs represented and more than 50 GPSGA members. In the future, we are confident these will be better attended as more and more members attend and we get the word out to more students, faculty and staff of OSU.

Some of our socials were held directly after the general assembly meetings, which are held every other week for all graduate and professional students to attend. Our Secretary, Kathryn Adams, helped keep us on track and plan most of our events and without her help, GPSGA would not have had such an incredible year. Attendees of our bi monthly meetings participated in, and reported back to their constituents, discussions of funding allocations and issues pertaining to graduate students. On average, 78 representatives and liaisons of graduate and professional student organizations attended each meeting and gathered knowledge from guest speakers who shared information on health insurance, graduate policy changes, entrepreneurial start-up processes, and career options, plus many others. Kathryn Adams also did a stellar job keeping our attendance records, and stepping up whenever needed to assist other team members and did an amazing job designing a number of our event flyers and invites. With the help of Amoha Das, our agendas and meeting minutes were uploaded to our website in an effort to keep all of our constituents informed.

We also had a great treasurer, Wenjing Zou, and finance committee who’ve handled the money matters of GPSGA wonderfully. GPSGA was also given permission to use our domestic travel funds for all students, international and domestic. With the higher amount of money available to all travel reimbursement requests we were able to fund 81 domestic and international graduate students to assist with travel expenses to present research at local, national, and international conferences. We were also able to allocate almost $20,000 of our budget to assist with helping these students in addition to the $30,000 granted by the Graduate College. Our co-sponsorship funds went to support: the International Student Organizations fund raiser; the first public OSU Trans Remembrance Day; training seminars to help public outreach activities and; assisted Botany, NREM, Art History, and Graduate Students Organization in Nutritional Sciences to host their events. Finally our executive board created a new grant the Materials Grant which assisted 9 graduate students ($200 each) in purchasing materials for their research. With the success of over 30 applicants, we hope that GPSGA will be able to continue this grant in the future.

GPSGA was also able to represent OSU at the National Association of Graduate and Professional Students (NAGPS) national conference which showcases other universities and ours with the events and changes occurring around the nation. Furthermore, our Intergovernmental Liaison, Tara Glenn was elected into regional office of NAGPS furthering the graduate student leadership legacy of OSU. Tara and I were also able to save GPSGA $3,000, which were redistributed to graduate student funds by meeting with the lobbyist of OSU to have our voices heard instead of flying to DC to speak with office members of our government officials. I am proud to see the graduate leadership here at OSU solving real world issues and taking office in national organizations.

The fall and spring semesters were exciting for both our executive team and our constituents with students making progress on research, completing qualifying exams, and trying to prepare for graduation. Even so, during the spring GPSGA was able to host the 26th Annual OSU Research Symposium and Research Scholar Conference, chaired by Jake Klein and assisted by the GPSGA president. With the help of Dr. Clinkenbeard and Dr. Satterfield of the Graduate College, who were all very busy throughout the entire year preparing for this week-long event we were able to have over 200 presentations and host the awards ceremony the last evening of the conference. The committee reviewed research abstract submissions, organized oral and poster presentations, recruited moderators and judges, and checked score sheets to determine placement of winners. Awards were given to 1st and 2nd place undergraduate and graduate student winners in 7 categories: Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Education, Humanities, Diversity Issues, Physical Science and Technology, and Social Sciences. I would like to thank Jake Klein and his department as well as, Dr. Clinkenbeard, Dr. Satterfiend, the Graduate College, and the Office of Research and Technology Transfer for all of their help with organizing and sponsoring awards for Research Week!

Graduate Education Week was held the third week in April of this year to align with the national celebration of Graduate Appreciation and Education. Grad Ed Week featured many events including: the Cowboy Gala which showcased the extradornary accomplishments of our students and departments with guest speakers Associate Vice President of Research Ron Van Den Bussche and Dr. Stephen McKeever the Phoenix Awards Ceremony; the Outstanding Graduate Coordinator & Supporting Staff Ice Cream Social and; the 3MT hosted by the graduate college. We ended the week with service learning at the humane society and a social at Finnegans. I would like to thank Catherine Haviland, GPSGA Social Chair and President Elect for all of her hard work organizing these events throughout the year. Her efforts were invaluable to our success this year, and I look forward to the success she will find in the coming year. This year has definitely made me, and I hope many other students, extremely proud of being a graduate student at OSU because of all that we can offer! I wish to also congratulate the winners of the Phoenix Awards and the awards committee headed by AJ Harris, our Vice President, for all of their hardwork.

We also owe an enormous amount of gratitude to Kent Sampson for Advising GPSGA in the Fall while Dr. Maureen Sullivan was on sebatical, and Dr Sullivan for advising GPSGA with such care. I would also like to thank every adviser, department chair, the committee members, Professors, and Deans of each and every person on our executive team. The amount of time these students sacrifice to serve OSU also impacts each and every one of you, and I appreciate your willingness to support our Executive members in becoming strong community leaders while they also pursue their higher education.

Finally, I would like to thank my fellow executive team à AJ Harris From Botany (VP), Kathryn Adams from Design Housing and Merchandising (Secretary), Wenjing Zou from Hotel and Restaurant Administration (treasurer), Justin Lyles from Animal Science (parliamentarian), Amoha Das from Design Housing and Merchandising  (communications director), Tara Glenn of Integrative Biology (intergovernmental liaison), and Catherine Haviland from Animal Science (social chair). I am very proud and lucky to have worked with you all! I know that this year has been challenging but unbelievably worth it. I’m sure you have gained valuable experiences with your time spent serving GPSGA and Oklahoma State University especially concerning the interworking’s of a university system and have grown as an individual and leader. I have no doubt in my mind that all of you will go on to do great things! I would like to also thank the GPSGA representatives and liaisons who elected me last year and my team into this position, and the current GPSGA members who supported me during meetings and said “Yes” when I asked for your help and when I needed volunteers.  I would also like to thank Dean Tucker, Rosslyn, Jodie, Dr. Van Delinder, Dr. Clinkenbeard and Dr. Satterfield in the Graduate College, Kent Sampson and Ruthie with Campus Life, and Kathy, Debbie, and Dr. Bird in the Office of Student Affairs for answering questions and helping us reach our goals. Thank you all for this unforgettable opportunity to serve OSU and the Graduate and Professional Student body! I am confident that the newly-elected officers will be amazing next year and I am very happy to leave the organization in such capable hands.




Shaun McCoshum