MCS GSAC Meeting Minutes
September 25, 2000

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September 25, 2000

In Attendance:
Heather Weitzel
Arindam Chowdhury
Karen Zaiger
Kathryn Trapp
Abhijit Brahme
Marc Fasnacht
David Owen
Katya Malkin

1999 - 2000 GSAC Minutes Archive
September 25, 2000
May 5, 2000
April 12, 2000
March 22, 2000
March 1, 2000
February 9, 2000
January 13, 2000


All of the group members were introduced and gave a brief description of their research interests. A list of members and contact information will be distributed shortly. Bill Williams, the new acting Dean, will attend our next meeting, along with John Woolford, if he is available.


Several items still on the agenda from last year's GSAC were reviewed:

1. Policy on Ombudspersons (see draft Policy on Ombudsperson for Graduate Affairs handout)

In response to feedback from the Mathematical Sciences Department, the group discussed how it might clarify its description of the role of the ombudsperson for graduate affairs. The draft policy suggested that the ombudsperson should serve as a mediator between faculty and graduate students, as an advisor, and as an advocate.

Some issues that were raised were:

  • Do we need to remove the role of "advocate" from the duties of the ombudsperson?
  • What should the ombudsperson's position be in the department (i.e., a tenure track faculty member, non-tenure track faculty member, etc)? The person's ability to carry out his/her regular duties should not be adversely affected by performing the role of ombudsperson.
  • Kate Trapp volunteered to begin revising the policy for the next meeting. She will attempt to devise a more narrowly focused, brief statement of the role of the ombudsperson that will leave enough flexibility so that the different departments can adapt it to their needs.

    2. Increasing Interaction between Graduate Students across MCS

    A fall poster session/social event for MCS graduate students is planned for November 17 in the Schatz Dining Room in the UC. This will be a chance for graduate students from each department to present a poster and brief description of their work, at a level that those outside of their department will understand, and to socialize with students from departments outside of their own. Food and beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) will be provided.

    Arindam Chowdhury volunteered to assist with planning this event. He will work with David and Aimeé Tomlinson (Chemistry GSAC representative from last year). For the next meeting, Arindam will put together some ideas about how the evening should be organized, check out the room setup, and think about how to publicize the event. Students should volunteer from each department to present posters, and GSAC members can begin contacting their fellow students about the possibility of presenting a poster. Members should confirm for the next meeting that Friday, November 17 is a good date for their department.

    If the event is a success, we will try to hold it once a year.

    3. Career Development

    The Graduate Career Connection, a brochure of career information and resources for MCS graduate students, should have been distributed to all graduate students in the four departments. David will check with Renee Starek, the MCS Career Consultant, to make sure that this is done (no GSAC member has received one yet this semester, but a copy of the Spring 2000 issue is in the handouts that were distributed at the meeting).

    David will invite John Woolford, who is active in the area of career resources and development, to the next meeting.

    4. Calibrating Expectations

    It is important to have information available to new and prospective students about what their expectations of graduate programs in MCS should be (see handout on Areas of Expectations´┐Ż). For the next meeting, members should review the handout and determine which four or five areas of expectation are the most important. At the next meeting, GSAC will decide on four or five areas for the purpose of benchmarking at comparable departments at other universities and will begin the process of benchmarking.


    1. Updating the Web Site

    There are plans to update the MCS web site to conform to the new university wide standards. Please take a look at the GSAC page and see if you have any suggestions for updating or improving it. The page is located at

    2. Pilot TA Evaluations

    This semester, in addition to FCEs, there will be a new pilot program in place in MCS for evaluation of teaching in recitations. By using both the FCEs and the new program, we will be able to evaluate which is more effective and decide whether or not to move to the new program exclusively for subsequent semesters. Please mention this to fellow graduate students who are teaching recitations in your departments.

    As a reminder - our next Meeting is Monday, October 16 in DH 1322 from 8:30 - 9:30 am.