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Graduate Chat with Kirk

This is the official chat transcript from October 12, 2010. It reads top-to-bottom.

Megan Miller asks:What can graduate students be doing to help K-State achieve the 2025 vision plan?

Kirk Schulz As many of you know, K-State 2025 seeks to place Kansas State among the top 50 public research universities in the country in the next 15 years. In order to accomplish this task, we will need to elevate the educational experience for all of our students at Kansas State University - both undergraduate and graduate. Specifically, we will ask for graduate student representation on some of the groups we will be assembling during the next several months associated with university wide themes. One of the themes will be associated with graduate education, and we certainly will want lots of suggestion on what we can do to improve the educational and research experiences of our graduate students. We will also have additional opportunities to respond on the web - so watch for announcements on when you can give us feedback. The bottom line - we need graduate students to be involved in setting our vision for the future.

Stephen Weeden asks:President Schulz, As a new distance Graduate student, what does the future hold for online programs at K-State? Will there be additional PHD programs added in the future? As a side note, would love to see K-State do more to 'brand' the online learning program as a Virtual Campus or World Campus to unite the distance students and make us feel more connected to the University.

Kirk Schulz I think we are going to continue to see on-line programs grow at Kansas State University, including at the doctoral level. Our DCE folks do a great job, and I concur that some additional branding (similar to Penn State's "world campus") would be helpful as we move forward. One of our keys is to be sure that we maintain the quality of our educational experience - and to be sure that our on-line programs are considered as the same quality as our more traditional "on-campus" programs.

Courtney George asks: President Schulz, the Regents were visiting the Emporia State campus last week and in visiting with the local newspaper, Regent Sherrer asked if ESU and FHTC have considered merging. Due to the recent successful merger of Washburn and Kaw Area Tech, do you foresee any similar questions or conversations occurring for the other state universities who have technical colleges located within their geographic regions?

Kirk Schulz Great question, and one that will certainly continue to come up. I do think that more of the technical colleges will seek to affiliate with other colleges and universities, and that you will see more of these conversations in the future.

Carlene Kaiser asks:As an older doctoral student, could editing/student support resources be available to those who are working or recently retired professionals?

Carol Shanklin I just received a very similar question in an email from a department head asking if editing services were available for graduate students writing their thesis/dissertation. On campus the Writing Center in the English Department provides support but they work predominately with undergraduates. The Writing Center Director has been engaged in discussion with GSC about this need. The Center needs more funding to expand their services to Graduate Students. Perhaps this is something the Graduate Student Senators could promote as a way student fees can be allocated. We definitely need to add this to the priority needs list for graduate students. Effective oral and written communication is essential for students' success not only to graduate but in their future careers.

Mohammad Sahtout asks:My question is that the graduate students senators are not voted for by the whole graduate students body instead they are nominated by the GSC who are by themselves were not selected by all graduate students. I (every graduate student) have the right to vote for who I think the right students to represent me in the SGA and in front of the university even my department does not have a registered graduate organization or even I don’t have the time to be in one of these organizations. If not, they need to be called GSC senators and not graduate student senators. Thank you.

Carol Shanklin Graduate Student Senators are elected by the entire graduate student body during the general SGA elections in March. Any enrolled student is eligible to vote. Should a student be interested in running, he or she may file the necessary paperwork and submit his/her name to be placed on the ballot to run for a graduate student senator position for the upcoming academic/school year. More information on SGA elections can be found at www.ksu.edu/elections/howto.htm. Of for more information about any SGA-related issue, please contact one of the graduate student senators. Ms. Courtney George or any of the senators would be pleased to visit with you (egsc@ksu.edu). Should a Senator resign during his/her term, the Senator to replace him/her are selected form the individual remaining on the list from the ballot who has the remaining highest votes during the previous election.

Kirk Schulz Hello from the Prez Rez - where I am typing on my MacBook and sipping a cup of coffee. These chats are always fun for me, and I appreciate all of the good questions - yet to come!

Graduate Student Council Graduate Student Council Good evening, We’d like to thank President Schulz and Dean Shanklin for attending this evening’s online chat. This chat is reserved for graduate students to ask questions about graduate student issues, concerns or needs. Your moderators are Megan Miller, Graduate Student Council President; Matthew Sellner, GSC President-elect; Graciela Andrango, GSC Treasurer; Jedidiah Riley, GSC secretary; and Danny Unruh, Student Body President. Please submit your questions using the form in the sidebar.

Pranav Bhatt asks:Most of the application for scholarships required Social Security Number, If I do not have SSN is it possible to get scholarship on other alternative criteria?

Carol Shanklin You will need to review the criteria for the scholarship. If you meet the qualification/requirements, contact the organizations providing the scholarship to determine if they will accept another form of identification.

Kirk Schulz I have asked Ron Trewyn, our Vice President for Research, to send a letter to campus this month with what we intend to do with some of the recommendations made in the Research Infrastructure Task Force - so that the campus knows that we intend to use this document to improve our research infrastructure. So - look for more on this during late October.

Carol Shanklin There are two deadlines you need to be aware. To have your name appear in the commencement program you need to submit your Approval for Final Defense to the Graduate School by Nov. 2nd. To participate in commencement you need to register online by December 1st. If you are a doctoral student, you must submit your ballots, ETDR, and other required documents by December 1st to participate in commencement. The following website lists all the deadlines http://www.k-state.edu/grad/gscurrent/guideforms/comminfo.htm You can also review the archive of the Graduation Requirement and Deadlines for more informtion.

William Butler asks:Are there plans to improve our oldest campus building, Seaton Hall, anytime soon? For example, we are still using chalkboards in our classroom, and the dust from the chalk gets into the computers and slows them down. Obviously this is just one small example where something like a whiteboard would come in handy, but are there any plans in the works for Seaton?

Kirk Schulz Presently, we are working on developing an overall prioritized list of campus renovation projects. While you might think this list was present, we didn't have one of these prior to my arrival. Over the course of the year, we will publicize this list, get input from the campus community on the list, and in general have a firmer idea of what we need to do when. Seaton is in bad need of renovation, and Dean DeNoble has this very high on his list of priorities. Thus, I can give you a better answer in a few months - but Seaton is near the top of the list of renovation needs.

Laura Logan asks:I appreciate departmental support for graduate students but funding from within the institution specifically for graduate student research is so limited. Will this improve in the future?

Carol Shanklin The Kansas State Research Foundation for the first year is funding three fellowships to support graduate students' research. The fellowship is $15,000 plus up to $5,000 annually for tuition. The Gradaute School also coordinates the Sarachek Fellowship PRogram that supports a graduate student who is using molecular biological techniques in their dissertation research. I hope through fund raising and contributions from alumni and industry K-State will have resources to establish some university-wide fellowships. I'd encourage each of you to visit the Graduate School website and go to the fellowship section that provides links to both pre-doctoral and post doctoral fellowships as some dissertation completion grants. This list is updated frequently when we receive information about fellowships or new deadlines. Check it frequently.

Stephen Weeden asks:President Schulz, Are there any opportunities for online students to work with on-campus student organizations?

Kirk Schulz While I would love to say yes, the honest answer is that these opportunities are very limited right now. We are working to make sure our "on-line" students feel part of the K-State community - we are going to have our first ever Alumni Fellow from Distance and Continuing Education this year. Are there any particular organizations or clubs that you are interested in? If so, we probably need to work on some way to arrange for you to be involved.

Carol Shanklin The Graduate Student Council welcomes the opporunity to engage more graduate students in their committees and activities. I'd suggest you contact Ms. Megan Miller, President of GSC, and let her know the you'd like to participate on a GSC committee. Technology can be used to link members of committee together.

Carol Shanklin Dr. Sue Maes, Dean of Continuing Education, would appreciate receiving an email from you to learn what your interests are.

Carol Shanklin Hello, I am pleased to join President Schulz as we dialogue with you.

Laura Logan asks:I appreciate departmental support for graduate students but funding from within the institution specifically for graduate student research is so limited. Will this improve in the future?

Kirk Schulz This is a severe problem across campus, and the support available for graduate student research is highly variable at Kansas State. In some areas, such as the Division of Biology, there is excellent support for graduate student research. In the humanities, our funding for research is completely inadequate. As we look at scholarship and research in the K-State 2025 plan, finding additional resources to support faculty and graduate student scholarship is going to be critical if we are to be successful in our quest for top 50 status.

Carlene Kaiser asks:As an older doctoral student, could editing/student support resources be available to those who are working or recently retired professionals?

Kirk Schulz I will let Dean Shanklin answer this one - my sense is that these types of support will need to be discussed as we move forward with K-State 2025. In my mind, this falls under the "what do we need to do to support graduate students more effectively" category.

Ragad Hannon asks:I would like to ask Mr.Kirk Schulz, does the K-state have scholar-ship for under graduate students who are from Middle East? where they can apply to get the scholar-ship?

Kirk Schulz We have a variety of scholarship programs for students - I would suggest visiting with the Financial Aid Office on campus to inquire about scholarship opportunities - they should be able to help! Good luck!

Aaron Norton asks:As a graduate student needing to support a family, I wonder what is being done to try and make assistantships meet cost of living in Manhattan? The average cost of a 2 bedroom apartment is $800, which is just about my monthly stipend after taxes. And cost of living is climbing every year while stipends are stagnant.

Kirk Schulz For many years, this issue has largely been ignored by the central administration - despite loud protests from faculty, the graduate school, and graduate students. I hate to beat a dead horse one more time, but this is why we really need to have graduate student involvement in K-State 2025 - to identify and prioritize our needs in graduate education and research. That being said, we are looking at starting to slowly make some inroads in this area over the next couple of years to get our stipends up. In addition to this, we need to look at general benefits for graduate students as well. I know I am not telling anything you don't know - but we are at least aware of the issue in Anderson Hall.

Tim Carson asks:What are the chances of changing the employee tuition assistance program to include online classes fully ? A masters program I am interested in is online only.

Kirk Schulz Excellent question - and the answer is I don't know. Please drop Bruce Shubert, our VP for Administration and Finance a note, and he and I will discuss it and see what we can do.

Carol Shanklin President Schulz: Could you share with the graduate students how the Infrastructure Task Force Report is being addressed by your leadership team.

William Butler asks:I know that this is a very, very tentative question to ask, but if Manhattan does get a bus system that serves the KSU campus, what parts of campus and Manhattan proper do you think it would serve? Also, what sort of help would you bring in to analyze where the most students would be served by a bus route? Would you bring in, for example, an outside professional organization, or as another example a panel of geography students adept at using Geographic Information Systems?

Kirk Schulz We need a public transportation system very badly. Virginia Tech had an excellent one when I was a student there in the mid-1980's (I didn't have a car so I used the bus system), and I know that this can really make a difference in a college community. Any bus system will be a partnership between the city and K-State, so I would guess that we would work with some sort of professional organization who specializes in this type of work. Lets see how the census data turns out - but I know discussions are ongoing on this issue.

Ragad Hannon asks:hello, I want to know what is the last day to apply at the commencement program

Kirk Schulz I will let Dean Shanklin help with this one!

Pranav Bhatt asks:Most of the application for scholarships required Social Security Number, If I do not have SSN is it possible to get scholarship on other alternative criteria?

Kirk Schulz Our financial aid office can work with you on this as well. You can also talk with Dr. Mike Philson, Vice Provost for International Programs as well about these issues.

Courtney George asks:What is the status of Graduate Research Assistant's (GRAs) receiving tuition benefits?

Kirk Schulz We will be developing our budget for next year soon, and it is my intent to put funding into the budget to solve this issue.

Courtney George asks:Have you heard anything regarding the discussions of adding Graduate Assistants to the list so that they can receive health insurance benefits, just like GTA/GRAs do?

Carol Shanklin Ms. Courtney George, the chair of GSC Health Insurance Committee is working with KSU's representative to Student Health Insurance Committee of the Board of Regents. The last news I had was that the Chief Financial Officers of the Regents Univerisities had been asked to explore the cost implications for their universities and to report that at their October meeting.

Ragad Hannon asks:Dr.Shanklin, could you please tell me what is the last day to apply for the commencement program?

Carol Shanklin November 2nd is the last day to submit your Approval to Schedule Final examination form to the Graduate School and have your name in the Commencement Program. You can participate even if your name is in the program if you are completing a masters degree and will be completing this semester.

Carol Shanklin Scholarship Information from K-State for Graduate Students The Graduate School will be adding a list of scholarships available for K-State graduate students to our website soon. We are awaiting confirmation from the Colleges that the information we have compiled with assistance of the KSU Foundation is complete and accurate. Hopefully this will help students know about scholarship available in their academic programs. We'll send an email to the GSC-listsev when it is complete.

Courtney George asks:What is the status of Graduate Research Assistant's (GRAs) receiving tuition benefits?

Carol Shanklin As a follow-up, Kansas State University has been the champion to get GAs added to the Health Insurance Plan. GSC has requested the BOR Health Insurance Committee to discuss this each year for the past 5. Seems that K-State is the only university that has many GAs employed. Courtney will send an email once we receive information about the decision.

Graduate Student Council Graduate Student Council President Schulz, and Dean Shanklin: as you reflect back on your own graduate education, what would be the one piece of advice you would give K-State graduate students?

Carol Shanklin As the Graduate School and Graduate Student Council work together to address needs of our graduate students and serve as communication link between the President's leadership team, we need to know of professional development opportunities we can provide. Please let us know.

Prashant Wani asks:Hello Sir. I am an International student. How good it is to give Teaching assistantship to the new international student in his first semester? because he/she is new here and most probably don't know the education culture in US. In addition to that he/she also has to adjust him/herself with studies.

Carol Shanklin Decision on which graduate student a graduate teaching assistantship is determined by the departments in which the GTAs will be taaching. Both GTAs and GRAs are extremely competitive, thus I'd encourage you to visit with the department head to determine if there is specific qualifications the department requires. The Kznsas BOard of Regents has some English Proficency requirements that must be met.

Prashant Wani asks:Hello Sir. I am an International student. How good it is to give Teaching assistantship to the new international student in his first semester? because he/she is new here and most probably don't know the education culture in US. In addition to that he/she also has to adjust him/herself with studies.

Kirk Schulz I think that is would be ideal for students to have a semester to get acclimated to the U.S. and Kansas State before teaching - however, for many of our departments GTA appointments are the only way to financially support graduate students. We do want to be sure we are providing good training opportunities for our GTA's - and Dean Shanklin can discuss these in more detail.

Courtney George asks:President Schulz, were you involved in any activities as a graduate student? i.e. student senate, graduate student council?

Kirk Schulz Yes, I was. I started the Chemical Engineering graduate association at Virginia Tech, and served on the graduate school council in the College of Engineering at Tech. It was a fun experience, although my research advisor would have preferred me to spend a bit more time in the lab and not trying to reform the university.

Kirk Schulz Folks - this has been enjoyable as always! Good luck to all of you and thanks for logging on and sending in your questions. Graduate students are an important part of Kansas State University - both in the past and in the future - thanks for the excellent work you do!

Courtney George asks:What suggestions would you have, President Schulz, for GSC or other students to help us engage more graduate students or to reach out to them as we try to involve them in events and issues - such as the K-State 2025 discussions?

Kirk Schulz Once we have put together the "theme" based group focused on graduate education - I would suggest holding both on-line and live forums on what we need to do to improve our graduate educational experience - and what people think of the plan that we will come up with. The more input - the better!

Graduate Student Council Graduate Student Council That’s all of our time this evening. Thanks again to President Schulz and Dean Shanklin for answering questions. If you have any other comments or questions please e-mail the Graduate Student Council at egsc@k-state.edu. Our next GSC meeting is Monday November 1, 2010 at noon in Union 209. We hope to have additional online chats with President Schulz and Dean Shanklin in the future.