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GPSC Update: Administrators, Student Representatives Discuss GPSC’s Role in Duke Community

In late March, nearly sixty Duke students representing all nine graduate and professional schools gathered at the R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center at the Fuqua School of Business for the annual retreat of the Graduate and Professional Student Council. The goal of the 2014 retreat was to hear from high-level academic administrators at Duke about their vision of how GPSC can be a stronger and better force in the Duke community. With that in mind, all nine deans of the graduate and professional schools were invited to participate in a panel and then share dinner with the representatives to the General Assembly of GPSC. Six administrators participated in the panel:

•    David F. Levi, dean of the Law School
•    Paula D. McClain, dean of The Graduate School
•    William Boulding, dean of the Fuqua School of Business
•    Tom Katsouleas, dean of the Pratt School of Engineering
•    William Chameides, dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment
•    Janice Humphreys, associate dean for academic affairs at the School of Nursing

The panelists held a vibrant discussion about the role of GPSC in the Duke community, prompted by questions compiled from a survey of all the GPSC General Assembly representatives prior to the retreat. All of the panelists shared stories of their efforts to encourage cross-disciplinary academic pursuits among the Duke schools, as well as to encourage students in their schools to plug in to the Durham community. The panelists seemed especially excited to begin a discussion with GPSC to foster an even stronger relationship between students and the administration. Although they did not agree on every issue, the panelists all expressed hope that this would be the first of many such meetings between the deans and GPSC.

After the panel discussion, the speakers were invited to join the students for dinner, with each table composed of students from as many schools as possible so as to continue the discussion from the panel and to generate ideas that GPSC could carry forward. The speakers had to leave after dinner, but the vibrant discussions they started helped each table come up with an idea that they wanted to pursue.

Thanks to Professor Joseph LeBeouf, a faculty member at Fuqua and the speaker at the 2013 GPSC retreat, GPSC members already had seen how to formulate new ideas to carry forward and had some practice doing so. After dinner, each team made a specific plan for implementation and sought feedback from other teams to refine their plans. At the end of the retreat, each team presented an idea to the whole group.

Another exciting first at the 2014 retreat was a student council leadership summit. The GPSC executive board invited the presidents of the individual schools’ student councils to the retreat to find out how GPSC could better serve them. The leaders met and talked over dinner and decided that they would come to a GPSC General Assembly meeting once a month starting next semester to touch base, figure out how they can help each other, and discuss avenues for developing their leadership skills so as to better serve their student councils.

The retreat ended with a happy hour, where people could informally discuss ideas for the year ahead and celebrate the work that had been accomplished.

Members of GPSC would like to thank The Graduate School, especially Associate Dean Jaqueline Looney, for her generous and continued support, which helped us pursue the ideas generated at last year’s retreat and will do the same this year. We also would like to thank the panelists for their innovative ideas, their support of GPSC, and the wonderful and instructive stories and experiences they shared at the retreat. Finally, thanks to all the GPSC representatives and the executive board for their participation and enthusiasm at the retreat, as well as all of their hard work throughout the year. They are a group of which the entire Duke community can be proud, and it has been a pleasure to serve with them.

— Shannon O’Connor, MD/PhD student, biomedical engineering, GPSC vice president