In 2000, the Dean of Graduate Studies, Dale Johnson had a conversation with Patrick Cannon, a doctoral candidate in Communication, who was at the time working in Graduate Studies as the "Graduate Student In Residence." The Dean mentioned to Patrick that a University committee to discuss a possible tuition increase had convened without graduate student feedback. He and Patrick both agreed that this was not in the best interests of graduate students.
The Dean also added that he thought it was time USF had its own graduate student organization, since most major universities have one. Dean Johnson asked Patrick if he would be interested in making that happen.
Patrick held a series of meetings with a number of graduate students, including: Catherine Shannon-Arvanitopoulos, Amy Moffat, Scott Dick, and Lee Lucas. All agreed that having an organization representing the interests of USF graduate students was very much needed at USF. Having received feedback from many graduate students, the first question pertained to what kind of organization graduate students wanted to create. After soliciting feedback from the graduate student population, Patrick discovered there was virtually a universal consensus that graduate students should form a separate organization from USF's Student Government. The thinking was that Student Government, whose primary mission is to support social life on campus, and consisting almost exclusively of undergraduates, was not the best vehicle to increase the influence of graduate students.
Official Formation Thus, the GPSO was officially formed in February 2001 after nearly a year of discussions between graduate students about how to proceed. The first GPSO officers were Patrick Cannon (President), Catherine Shannon-Arvanitopoulos (VP), Kelly Browning (Treasurer), and Gigi Brathwaite (Secretary).
In addition to the type of organization graduate students needed, another prevalent concern was the lack of funding for attending professional and academic conferences. With the indispensable assistance of Student Government Business Manager Joe Synovec and the welcome support of Student Government President Tyvi Small and Vice President, Tara Klimek, the Conference Presentation Grant Program was born.
Seeing that Student Government was indeed willing to consider the interests of USF graduate students, once the GPSO began meeting, perspectives on the nature of the organization and its relationship to Student Government began to evolve. Patrick Cannon writes,
"Looking back on those days, it is clear to me that what largely motivated this preference was a lack of understanding of how Student Government operates, as well as an unfounded suspicion on the part of graduate students toward undergraduates and Student Government. Once Student Government President Mike Griffin and I began to meet, however, we soon discovered the common ground between us, and it became obvious that it was actually to the graduate studentsí advantage, and to the benefit of the University as a whole if the GPSO joined the Student Organizations family and worked with the existing Student Government."
In the first year of operation, in addition to creating, with the generous support of Student Government, the Conference Presentation Grant Program, the GPSO:
- Forged and cultivated a new cooperative relationship between graduate students and Student Government
- Formulated and developed a strategy for enhancing student participation on USF policy committees, working with the Presidentís office, the Provost, Student Affairs, and Student Government
- Facilitated the formation of five new graduate student organizations
- Increased graduate student participation in University policy-making, thereby raising the visibility of USF graduate student issues
- Assisted in designing Institutional Researchís Graduate Student Exit Questionnaire
- Offered workshops and discussion forums of special interest to graduate students
These achievements would not have been possible without the cooperation and collaboration of the following people and their staffs: President Judy Genshaft, Provost David Stamps, Vice President Harold Nixon, and the Student Government Business Manager, David Armstrong. Each of these University partners provided USF graduate students with an unprecedented access to the highest levels of the University, thus making it possible to increase the graduate student voice at the University of South Florida.
Upon completion of the first GPSO Presidency, Patrick encouraged a new group of graduate students, along with Treasurer Kelly Browning, to take the helm and lead the GPSO into its second year as the Voice of USF Graduate Students.
In the spring of 2002, the GPSO General Assembly elected the officers for 2002-2003: Kelly Browning (President), Rachel Smoker (VP), Athy Fitos (Secretary), and Jeffrey Thibert (Treasurer).
2002 - 2003: Establishing the Council
In the 2002-2003 school years, 3,155 began graduate study at USF. From discussions with the Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) and with current graduate students, it became increasingly clear that a much more extensive orientation effort was needed at the University level, and in many cases, at the college and program level.
To help meet this need, the "Comprehensive Graduate Student Fee" was created. Income from the one-time $35 Graduate Fee will be used to fund a Comprehensive Graduate Student Council Program. Resources will be provided to the GPSC in support of their current and planned greatly expanded university level orientation activities as well as via GPSC to the individual colleges in support of college and departmental orientation activities. In addition, this program will provide support for the graduate orientation activities at the regional campuses. Finally, this program will support the GPSC in its organization of academic, social, and professional events which are conducive to enhancing graduate student success and promoting a graduate student community.
- Gill Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and USF alumnus.
- Congratulations to College of Marine Science doctoral students Paul Suprenand and Phil Thompson for their articles in the St. Petersburg Times!
- We are excited to announce our new Master of Arts (MA) in Global Sustainability
- Applied Physics Ph.D. graduate Joshua Martin featured as postdoctoral scholar at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory