State of EGSA address

Dear EGSA,

The next EGSA meeting will not be until the beginning of next semester, but Steve and I wanted to share a few things with you all that have been happening this semester.

Drs. Losey and Vitanza have been committed this semester to being as open and communicative as possible with graduate students about decisions and changes being made in the department. To this end, Steve and I have met with them every three weeks or so to evaluate graduate student needs and work on course offerings. The meetings have been a VERY positive experience for all of us. Here are some results:

One goal for the year is to come up with a more regular course rotation especially of religion and literature courses (every semester) in addition to Bib and Research, Old English, Literary Theory, and courses in both halves of American and British Lit. Also increase number of seminars offered depending on number of new students admitted each year. (The projected fall and spring semester seminar listings are provided on the EGSA’s homepage – www.bayloregsa.org )

Another goal is to make the degree requirements and other information for Religion and Literature more widely known and easier to access. Dr. Losey is working with the director of the Religion graduate program on specific measures to make this happen.
Drs. Losey and Vitanza are working with Drs. Wood and Prickett to make them available for students in the department. Dr. Wood has been asked to teach a seminar in Fall 09, and Dr. Prickett can take on new students for MA and PhD theses. Dr. Prickett should be contacted directly to inquire about his availability.

Interim President Garland wants graduate programs to encourage dissertation directors to emphasize mentoring students toward the goal of publishing their dissertations. He does not think it an unreasonable goal that PhD students have their dissertations accepted for publication with a University press. The English department has agreed to help work toward this goal.
Dr. Vitanza has committed to working toward making designated computers available to PhD students taking preliminary exams. The department is in the process of purchasing laptops for departmental use in “smart classrooms” (coming soon!) which can be signed out for use during the preliminary exams. The department is looking for ways to prevent overcrowding in TA offices for next year. Possibilities include designating a classroom as a new temporary TA office (which would include purchasing furniture).

A ballot is forthcoming from Kathleen, our conference chair. She will be soliciting our votes for conference topics.

Please let Steve or I know if you have any ideas for furthering open communication between administration and graduate students. Please let us know if you have any concerns about the above or about anything else that has come up this semester.

Thanks, and happy Christmas.

Bethany Wilson Smith

(PS. My name change won’t officially go into effect until next semester. I’ll send an e-mail letting you know when to send e-mails to Bethany_Smith.)