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Graduate Chat with Kirk

This is the official chat transcript from April 11, 2011. It reads top-to-bottom.

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; and Jedidiah Riley, GSC secretary. Please submit your questions using the form in the sidebar.

Kirk Schulz Good evening from the Prez Rez! I am thrilled to participate in another graduate student on-line chat - let the questions begin!

Chadd Fuemmeler asks:I am a graduate student in the CAPD department and pay for graduate level education. My studio is in Seaton Court. Why are our facilities unsafe for occupancy?? Why do you allow this to happen?

Kirk Schulz I really can't answer this - many of the problems in Seaton Court have been there for many years. We have identified this area of campus as a major priority for renovations and upgrades, and Dean Tim DeNoble is working to raise private monies to assist in making this area state-of-the-art. Bottom line - we are working on it, and given the state of the KS economy - this will take us some time.

Melissa Belz asks:Hello, In the process of applying for graduate research grants and fellowships, I saw that many of them assume that the university will waive fees for tuition while a student is conducting fieldwork/doing research - because they brought a grant into the school. What is K-States position on this? Will you waive fees for students who received fellowships so that their progress is not delayed by making up credits? Thank you

Carol Shanklin Good evening, Ms. Belz. You can visit with Dr. James Guikema, Associate Vice President of Research and Associate Dean of Graudate School. He can provide you and your major professor specific guidance that you will need to use when applying. KSU has worked with students who have received prestigious competitive national fellowships in regard to tuition and fees. I encourage you to contact Dr. Guikema with your specific questions. Good luck!

Steven Bellinger asks:President Schulz, I applaud you for your 2025 plan, but to move up in the ranks of top tier research institutes, the Faculty have to be on board and ambitious. Though necessary for amnesty and a cultural standard, tenure has promoted much apathy and steady-state research action within the college of engineering, with many only trying to hold the status quo. What is your plan to encourage, endorse, sponsor, or promote exceptional Faculty members over those of lesser ambition? What might you do to motivate those that do not push the standard of excellence and have lost their way?

Kirk Schulz I am glad to get such easy questions tonight! As we continue to develop the K-State 2025 plan, we are working on getting faculty buy-in. Some of our colleges have not had a strong research emphasis over the past decade, and we will continue to work with our faculty to enhance their opportunities for research. So, we will work to hire great new faculty and collaborate with the Office of Research to put programs together to assist our faculty in moving their scholarship to greater levels.

Heqing Huang asks:Hi Dear President Kirk Schulz, I am a graduate research assist from Computer and Information Science department, I have a very short question, typically, we research assistant helping the Faculties and also in some sense helping the whole University as well. Why our GRA has to pay the tuition through part of the income and then make that part a taxable part, as you know tuition is a large amount, the tax for that part each semester is not small as well. Why could you do something like the GTA, has the tuition waived, or simply let the professor who funded us pay that tax directly from your side, which might be considered a non-taxable part. Thanks, and have a wonder chatting night.

Kirk Schulz We are working with the VP for Finance and Administration, as well as the Dean Shanklin on these sorts of issues which effect graduate students across campus. Depending on how the budget finalizes in the Kansas Legislature, I am hopeful that we will be able to find alternative ways to cover tuition and fees for our GRAs.

Tara Terkildsen asks:I am curious, what percentage of graduate students have GTA, GRA, or GA positions?

Carol Shanklin The percentage of students on graduate assistantships varies by discipline. Most doctoral students in the STEM disciplines have GRA appointments. The percentage of master students in social sciences, education and humanities are self funded at KSU and other uniiversities. Assistantships are very competitive. I suggest you visit with your department head to determine criteria used in awarding assistantships.

Melissa Belz asks:Hello, In the process of applying for graduate research grants and fellowships, I saw that many of them assume that the university will waive fees for tuition while a student is conducting fieldwork/doing research - because they brought a grant into the school. What is K-States position on this? Will you waive fees for students who received fellowships so that their progress is not delayed by making up credits? Thank you

Kirk Schulz I will let Dean Shanklin work on this one!

Jedidiah Riley asks:With all of the focus on research, what is being done to insure the institution does not lose touch with its education obligation in the next decade and beyond for students of all levels?

Carol Shanklin Kansas State University values quality teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I do not anticipate this focus to change. In additional the Graudate School is exploring strategies to enhance graduate teaching and research assistants preparation for future teaching roles. An effective teacher can integrate research in their teaching and are excited to share new knowledge gained.

Jedidiah Riley asks:With all of the focus on research, what is being done to insure the institution does not lose touch with its education obligation in the next decade and beyond for students of all levels?

Carol Shanklin Kansas State University values quality teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. I do not anticipate this focus to change. In additional the Graudate School is exploring strategies to enhance graduate teaching and research assistants preparation for future teaching roles. An effective teacher can integrate research in their teaching and are excited to share new knowledge gained.

John Lantz asks:I see a trend of wanting more out of graduate students in terms of research and increasing the number of graduate assistant positions but what are we doing to compensate graduate students in a GA, GRA or GTA role that is consistent with our peer institutions?

Kirk Schulz Excellent question! This is the type of concern that we asked the Graduate Educational Experience group to discuss in the K-State 2025 planning exercise. I believe that we will work to see what the salaries are in our peer schools, and see how far we are off those. Additionally, we will be taking a senior leadership group to NC State this summer to get a feel for what they are doing there - and this is certainly something we should discuss on this trip.

Carol Shanklin As President Schulz and I await the next few questions, I want to encourage all graduate students to attend the K-State Research Forum scheduled for April 20th. This will provide you an opportunity to learn about the diversity of research being conducted by your graduate student colleagues and their mentors. There will be both poster sessions and oral presentations. Dr. Chris Soresnsen will be giving the key note address at the awards ceremony. Check you email for more details.

Kirk Schulz Dr. Sorenson is a great speaker - and will be fun to listen to. I am sure his classes are a blast!

Carol Shanklin President Schulz, please share your perspective on the value of graudate students becoming engaged in committees and task forces at KSU. The Graduate Student Council officers and members of the leadership team appreciate your involvement of students in university committees. However, students and their mentors often question the value of these experiences.

Jedidiah Riley asks:With all of the focus on research, what is being done to insure the institution does not lose touch with its education obligation in the next decade and beyond for students of all levels?

Kirk Schulz I concur with Dean Shanklin's answer. This is something that I worry about a great deal - we don't want to take the aspects of Kansas State which have brought us to 2011, and to get rid of these as we seek to be a Top 50 public research university. However, we also must keep up with the changing times at public research universities - and to ensure that we have a culture of discovery and scholarship across all of our academic disciplines. So - my goal is to move us towards more research without losing the character of K-State.

Kirk Schulz I was very involved at Virginia Tech as a graduate student, and we NEED graduate students to be active in campus governance. I fully realize that you are here to get an M.S. or Ph.D. - and this needs to be your primary focus - but it is important that you understand and participate in activities to make this a better place - which in turn gives additional value to your degree.

Tara Terkildsen asks:I have noticed that Hale is currently in the process of moving books. For starters, wouldn't it have been wiser to do this at the beginning of a semester or over the summer so students can actually find what they are looking for? And I've noticed that "moving beyond paper" and the JSTOR initiatives have been strongly pressed recently. I wonder how much consideration K-State has taken to the fact that in diminishing archives we could end up being forced in to paying whatever rates the publishers demand, and that this may limit access for students of lower socioeconomic status. How does KSU intend to protect "intellectual freedom" of resources in the long term (I'm using an APA term here)?

Kirk Schulz Good question - and I really don't know all of the answers to this question. I do know that the Dean of the Libraries is especially open to student input - and I would encourage you to raise this with her directly. Dean Shanklin or myself can get you in touch with her. I believe that the library is a particularly key resource for many of our graduate students - so if you have a concern - speak up!

Graduate Student Council Graduate Student Council Many graduate students prepare for a career of teaching and/or conducting research. However, if working as faculty members at academic institutions they also have opportunities for working in administrative positions. What is the process for working one's way up to these positions? What criteria are necessary to become a department head, dean, provost, university president, etc.?

Mukund Koirala asks:President, research grands are being gradually reduced, there are a number of professors who doesn't have research fund, in that situation, how would a graduate student conduct an effective and challenging research? Does department support for research or a student has to change a professor who has a fund for enough fund for his projects?

Carol Shanklin The number of grants faculty members have available to support graduate students varies by discipline. In additional to grants awarded to faculty, there are some grants/fellowships that graduate students can apply. Many are available through federal agencies. One fellowship program that is available to graduate students whose research has the potential for technology transfer and/or intellectual property (patents) is the Kansas State University Foundation Doctoral Scholarship Program. Deadline is April 18th for applying; details are on the Graduate School website. In addition there is a section that links to external fellowships and scholarships for graduate students.

Kirk Schulz This is an interesting question. In order to move up the academic administrative ladder - you really need to excel as a faculty member to reach the rank of full Professor. This is almost always needed in order to start into your first administrative roles. Next, look for leadership opportunities - including chairing a major departmental committee or serving on some university wide high profile committees. Additionally, polish your soft skills - communications, writing, and social skills. Finally, when you see an opportunity - go for it! Strangely enough, administrators are often hired because of research prowess - which has little or nothing to do with the skills needed to be a successful university administrator. So - learn to be a Jack of All Trades - both proficient in scholarship and with good leadership skills. I would also suggest finding a mentor or someone who has made the jump - and ask them how they got to where they are. You would be surprised how many of the pathways are just a little bit different.

Carol Shanklin If a graduate student aspires to become an academic admninistrator during their career, I would encourage them to obtain leadership experience as a graduate student. Once they are employed as a faculty member, they need to chair committees and tasks force initially at the department and college levels. They should also serve on university committees, Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, etc. In additional, they should seek leadership positions in their professional organizations. The more experience one has the better they can compete. I also encourage them to find one or more mentors who they admire and seek their advice and guidance.

Mukund Koirala asks:President, research grands are being gradually reduced, there are a number of professors who doesn't have research fund, in that situation, how would a graduate student conduct an effective and challenging research? Does department support for research or a student has to change a professor who has a fund for enough fund for his projects?

Kirk Schulz I would talk with your advisor and ask about helping him or her with a research proposal. Our Office of Research, under the leadership of VP Ron Trewyn, can work with both of you to find good proposal opportunities. This can be a win-win - as you will get to know first hand about proposal writing. If you want some help on this - drop me an email at kirks@ksu.edu

Derek Schneweis asks:Hello! What is the best way for graduate students to get undergraduate students involved in research? Is there a mentor program within Kansas State?

Kirk Schulz I would work through your major professor on this - and tell him or her that you have some opportunities for UG students on your project. Often - you can do a departmental posting, send out an email, or hand pick students who are doing particularly well in a class. There is no "right way" to find a student. Again - drop me an email note if you need some help.

Derek Schneweis asks:Hello! What is the best way for graduate students to get undergraduate students involved in research? Is there a mentor program within Kansas State?

Carol Shanklin Women in Science and Engineering is one example of a program at KSU that encourages students to engage in research. Other programs include McNair, Developing Scholars, and the Univesity Honors Program. I additional undergraduates can apply for Research for Undergraduate (REU) in the summer at different universities. Many of our outstanding research faculty have undergraduates on their research team.

Carol Shanklin For graduate students interested in learning more about grant writing, the Gradaute Student Council and Graduate School sponsor professional development workshops throughout the year. One of these workshops focuses on grant writing. We're planning a day's workshop in May or early June on Scientific Writing. Several of the workshops are posted on KSU Online in a class set up for graduate students. Email egs@ksu.edu for more information.

Kirk Schulz Folks - I enjoyed visiting with you tonight - at least electronically! Good luck as you finish up the semester. Go Cats!

Carol Shanklin I too enjoyed engaging electronically with you this evening. Good luck as you complete spring semester. Looking forward to our next chat. Have a great week.

Graduate Student Council Graduate Student Council This concludes our chat for the evening. Thank You for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed chatting with President Schulz and Dean Shanklin