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Events offer networking opportunities for graduate, professional students

‘Donuts with Deans’ kicked off week-long celebration at Ohio State

Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week kicked off yesterday with the annual “Donuts with Deans” reception at University Hall. The informal event brought together students and deans of various colleges.

“It’s an opportunity to invite students to come to the graduate school, meet some of the other college deans and just really take a break and have some donuts and coffee,” said Mary Stromberger, vice provost for Graduate Education and dean of the Graduate School. “It’s an opportunity for us to show that we care – and we do.”

The “Donuts with Deans” and other activities this week give students opportunities to network in a no-pressure environment, said Matt Page, senior assistant dean for graduate student experiences.

“I think because grad education is so decentralized, we don’t always have an opportunity to interact with each other,” he said. “Students usually just stay within their program, so this is a great opportunity to meet folks from different academic colleges.”

Graduate School administrators work with the Council of Graduate Students to plan the week of activities, Stromberger said.

“We also encourage individual academic units to have their own celebrations for their students,” she said.

Council of Graduate Students representatives Katie Conner (left) and Sabrina Durso.The week’s activities are designed to help students get to know administrators, especially those that they might not have previously interacted with, said Katie Conner, Council of Graduate Students vice president.

“Oftentimes it can be intimidating to meet deans, or when you see them out, how do I approach this person?” she said. “The original idea of the event was, how do we have deans and graduate students interacting in an informal atmosphere? That way, everybody feels a little bit more comfortable.”

In addition to the social component, the activities provide a forum to discuss academic research and campus life in general, Conner said.

“This is a chance for grad students to actually bring their questions or concerns or ideas or just have moments chatting with the deans from their colleges,” she said.

The appreciation week events can strengthen connections between people who may not have met in person, said Sabrina Durso, Council of Graduate Students president-elect.  

“It also really helps put the names to the faces. A lot of our emails don’t have faces to them,” she said. “It kind of closes that gap between somebody being … online and actually being a real person that you can talk to.”

The deans said they enjoyed speaking with students and hearing about their experiences.

“I think for most students, deans are kind of abstract. I think most graduate students don’t feel a strong connection even to a college – they feel connected most strongly to their program and to their cohort of students there,” said David Horn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I think it’s nice to make the college visible in this way, to remind them of the ways in which we support their academic work, but also the daily dimensions of their lives. I welcome it as a chance to connect with more of our students.”

The “Donuts with Deans” event was as informative for the deans as it was for the students, said Karen Rose, dean of the College of Nursing.

“It’s good to hear what other students are doing and think, ‘Oh, my students might be interested in that.’ I think of possibilities,” she said. “I probably get more out of it than the students.”

For more information about Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week events, visit the program’s website.  

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