You can’t give what you don’t have. This statement also applies to a work environment and service unit, such as the Graduate School. If such a group was not composed of empathetic, collaborative and receptive people – the graduate student support services and campus relationships would look very different. In order to really understand what our students, faculty, postdocs, and staff go through in their respective academic endeavors, the ability to work and create together is fundamental.
In the last 3 or so years, there has been a conscious effort to build a more cohesive, diverse and inclusive community within the staff. The fruits of which have created services for the campus that did not exist when many of our alumni were students – the Graduate School Writing Center, professional development, improved software systems and electronic processes to create efficiencies, recruitment and retention initiatives, the new postdoctoral office, and fundraising for fellowships.
The self-assessment exercises that the GS staff engaged in turned out to pair perfectly with the goals of the University’s Thriving Workplace Initiative (TWI). “Our team building has not only improved our sense of community but continues to underscore our purpose – to support our students and programs, to have a deeper understanding of their needs, their experiences and abilities,” says Patricia Woodwell, Director of Finance and Administration.
And it doesn’t end there. The staff hopes to invite the greater graduate campus to programming, professional development, service, and outreach to the local community, through such activities as food drives, and a shared campus online cookbook.