Michigan State University's Independent Voice Since 1909, East Lansing, MI

State News Logo

Friday, August 29, 2014 | Last updated: 7:58am

  • Facebook Logo
  • Twitter Logo
  • RSS Feed Logo
  • Email Signup Logo

Academics and Administration Blog

COGS co-sponsors graduate student leadership event

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 11/17/13 8:08pm         

The Office of Graduate Student Life & Wellness organized the first Graduate Student Leadership Institute on Saturday, co-sponsored by the Council of Graduate Students, Alliance for Graduate Education and Professoriate, and Office for International Students and Scholars. The event was geared toward getting graduate students to focus on their disciplines and apply leadership skills in their field.

The event kicked off at 9 a.m. with three discussions, similar to TED talks. The speakers included MSU Alumni Association Executive Director Scott Westerman, Executive Director of MSU Global Christine Geith and BEACON Diversity Director Judi Brown Clarke.

“Student(s) will leave with a personalized leadership statement and a plan for how to develop,” said Matt Helm, director of the Office of Graduate Student Life and Wellness.

Helm said students had to formulate an assessment of their leadership potential through the talks and had to interact with their peers about it.

Paul Artale, coordinator of leadership and financial education at the Office for Graduate Student Life and Wellness, said graduate students need more specific leadership guidance since they most likely have had leadership positions in the undergraduate level.

Artale, who spoke at the event , said the leadership institute is keen on stressing the fact that graduate students can and should help their communities through their research.

“Graduate students, and especially Ph.D students, need to know that their research is creating a new reality,” Artale said.

First year doctoral student in higher, adult and lifelong education Diego Duran-Medina said graduate students sometimes get so invested in their research topics that they become their research topics, and stop questioning who they are and what they want to achieve.

“This (leadership institute) makes us think about why we’re here and about the service we can give to our community,” Duran-Medina said.

According to Artale, the Office of Graduate Student Life & Wellness will be hosting a Leadership Academy in the spring semester, which will be a five to six week program. The program would include one session per week where speakers get to present to students.

Helm said that such leadership institutes is something he is looking forward to seeing more of at MSU on the graduate and undergraduate levels. He added that the leadership institute is going to be an annual event starting this year.

Google Books ruled as fair use

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 11/14/13 11:34pm         

Book scanning for Google Books was recently ruled as fair use by a federal district judge — a big win for Google and academics, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The ruling is good news for libraries and researchers, which both can use the Google compilation for “text mining” and to find new materials. As a major research university, MSU is home to thousands of people conducting research.

Google Books shows small sections of copyrighted works, but Judge Denny Chinad said the use is “highly transformative,” which is a key element of fair use.

He elaborated that the system preserves books and gives them new life, helps readers and researchers identify books and will generate new audiences and create new sources of income.

Google Books has become essential to research, Chin said in the article.

According to the article, Google is delighted with the ruling.

The system includes more than 20 million scanned books so far, in partnership with numerous academic libraries, according to the article. Users can search the books and see snippets of them, but not whole books.

The Authors Guild plans to appeal the ruling, according to the Chronicle.

Various academics, including Paul Courant a professor at the University of Michigan, voiced their joy in the ruling.

“It’s a great outcome,” Courant said in the article. “The notion that search is a transformative use is extremely important.”

Article shows many universities notice pay gap between males, females

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 11/07/13 10:06pm         

Pay gaps remain a problem at many universities, including MSU, and not all efforts to fix the problem are created equal.

Western Michigan University has made a direct effort to make pay equal, but it has caused tension and turmoil between the faculty and provost, according to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The pay gap between men and women professors at MSU recently came to light, but it remains unclear if the university will make a concerted effort to fix the problem.

Ongoing efforts that could help fix the gap, although they were not created specifically to do so, include more standardized faculty review and educating those involved on the process.

Women make an average of 4 percent less than men at Western Michigan, according to a salary study at the university.

Western Michigan’s approach to fixing the problem includes adjusting salaries to correct disparities within departments — the total cost of which is about $550,000, Timothy Greene, the university’s provost, said.

Delays in the pay increases lead to a censure of the provost by the faculty union. A censure is a formal written statement of disapproval.

MSU’s provost office has not expressed interest in running head-on at this issue but rather opting to fix it by having a fair system for negotiating starting pay, promotion and yearly reviews, which can lead to pay increases.

When the University of Maine system set out to have gender pay equity it created a committee between the administration and faculty to instill confidence and clarity in the process.

The gap has closed to an extent, although the problem will never be completely solved, a faculty member told the Chronicle.

At the University of Texas at Austin a pay gap of 6 percent was discovered in 2007, it was down to 4 percent by 2011 because the president and provost instructed deans to keep gender equity in mind during the faculty review process for merit raises during the 2009-10 academic year, according to the Chronicle.

MSU Debate team experiences success at Harvard competition

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 11/04/13 11:25pm         

The MSU Debate team scored big at the Harvard tournament, which took place on Oct. 26-28 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

MSU Debate Team Program and Events Coordinator Carly Watson said the teams’ place in the top 25 of a competitive tournament like Harvard’s shows the students’ dedication. The MSU Debate team currently has between six and seven teams.

Three two-person teams were placed among the top 25 teams at the tournament. One team, including international relations senior Kaavya Ramesh and international relations sophomore Tyler Thur, placed 17th, whereas another team, including international relations junior Aniela Butler and mathematics sophomore Margaret Strong, placed 19th, Watson said. The last team of international relations junior Jack Caporal and international relations junior Quinn Zemel placed 25th.

Watson said there were about 78 teams competing at the Harvard tournament.

MSU’s Debate Team is part of the Honors College and is now preparing to compete at Wake Forest University, host of the Franklin R. Shirley Classic, on Nov. 15-18. Watson said the competition, held in Winston-Salem, N.C., is the biggest tournament in the fall semester.

MSU Pres. Simon, other top NCAA officials to hear presentations

By Beau Hayhoe          Last updated: 10/28/13 11:54pm         

Governance changes to the top division of the NCAA are set to come up later this week, moves that potentially could tie-in MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon.

Simon serves as executive committee chairwoman of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, which is set to hear presentations from about nine different coaching groups on Tuesday.

Various coaches’ associations, along with the Collegiate Commissioners Association and numerous faculty groups, are set to offer their views for the overall structure and vision of Division I.

Discussion regarding each of the presentations will follow the next day during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Some of the nation’s wealthier athletics departments have proposed creating a separate subdivision, a move that would ideally give them more control over rules decisions and finances.

Simon has long held popular sway at both the university and on a national scale when it comes to athletics, despite no provisions in her contract specifically related to athletic control or oversight.

Registration ongoing for conference

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 10/28/13 2:36pm         

The Council of Graduate Students, or COGS, recently opened registration for its 2014 Graduate Academic Conference, taking place on March 27 in the Kellogg Center. It is primarily open to MSU graduate and professional students, but also to other Big Ten students.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 20.

“The main objective of the conference is translating your work,” said COGS President Stefan Fletcher.

Chittenden Hall project could move forward pending Trustees vote

By Beau Hayhoe          Last updated: 10/25/13 1:09am         

Graduate students at MSU could be one step closer to having a dedicated academic space if the MSU Board of Trustees votes to approve an authorization to proceed with renovations to Chittenden Hall during its Friday meeting.

Measures related to construction projects typically are passed by the board with minimal discussion or opposition.

Work on the building would include changes to the building’s plumbing, interior design and heating, among other things.

Graduate student advocates have been pushing for a revamp to the facility for several years, and the Council of Graduate Students passed a resolution supporting the project in late 2011.

Events such as a 5K run worked to support the project’s goals in terms of awareness. ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, also supported the project through a January 2012 resolution.

Chittenden Hall has been vacant since 1999. A revamp of the building would cost about $6 million, officials said.

The board is set to meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the board room of the Administration Building.

ASMSU working to host TEDx event

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 10/20/13 9:08pm         

ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, and the International Students Association are slowly starting to work on organizing another TEDx event at MSU.

TED is a nonprofit organization first established in 1984 as a conference bringing together experts from the areas of technology, entertainment and design, according to the TED website. TED’s motto is “ideas worth spreading.”

A TEDx Talk is an independently organized event, as opposed to TED Talks, which are hosted by the TED Conferences group. A TED Talk is meant to share ideas brought up at the annual TED Conference with the world, while TEDx Talks are locally-focused events.

ASMSU Vice President for Academic Affairs Mitchell Goheen said the event’s theme will likely be based on education, adding he envisions about 300 people attending the event. He hopes to schedule the event for the spring semester.

Goheen said the student government is trying to find an organizer with a TEDx Level 2 license, which would allow for the event to host more than 100 people.

According to the TED website, a Level 2 license would grant the organizers more privileges, such as hosting a day-and-a-half TEDx event instead of only a one-day event. The license also allows for organizers to broadcast parts of the program at a non-commercial broadcast station.

An organizer can obtain a Level 2 license after attending at least one TED Talk and holding a standard license for a minimum of two years, among other criteria.

The first student-led and MSU affiliated TEDx event was hosted by the International Students Association in March 2012 and themed “Global, local.”

Eight MSU alumni selected as Crain's Detroit Business 40 under 40

By Nolly Dakroury          Last updated: 10/14/13 9:40pm         

Crain’s Detroit Business, a Detroit and South Michigan business news and information website, published its 40 under 40 honorees on Oct. 6, with MSU notching the highest number of alumni on the list. Out of this year’s 40 honorees, eight are MSU alumni, which is more than any other university, according to MSU Today.

The website has been honoring 40 high achieving individuals under 40 years old every year since 1991. The individuals are specifically part of the Southeast Michigan community.

The 40 honorees are chosen by reporters and editors from among 300 people. The winners will be formally honored on Nov. 6 at Emagine Theatre in Royal Oak, Mich.

The MSU alumni honored with the award include:

Jennifer Merriman, who orchestrated the international sale of a super-yacht facility in the British Virgin Islands for Victor International Corp.

Douglas Skrzyniarz, who created the office of government affairs for Wayne’s School of Medicine.

Dounia Lievan, who created a new sales and management plan at Flagstar Bancorp Inc., that has helped boost revenue.

Eva Scurlock, who created the credit operation of the Level One Bank in Farmington Hills since the bank was founded in 2007.

Laura Lawson, who created a marketing department at United Shore Financial Services to grow the wholesale division.

Kelly Gasior, who created the brand and identity of Trinity Senior Living Communities.

Alexis Dishman, who expanded the African-American Business Development Initiative of Comerica Bank into Grand Rapids and Lansing.

Trish Dewald, who secured a $250,000 donation for the nonprofit Coalition on Temporary Shelter.

Schools already experiencing hurdles due to government shutdown

By Justine McGuire          Last updated: 10/10/13 10:50pm         

A host of problems related to the federal government shutdown could be on the horizon.

MSU officials have said the federal shutdown will affect the university minimally, but a recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education sheds light on problems already happening and more that could happen if the shutdown continues.

So far, most effects have been on research grants. Furloughs in the U.S. Department of Education are about 94 percent of its workforce, which could lead to delays in the awarding of grants, the article said.

The federal grant money to scientific projects often goes toward paying graduate students who help on the projects.

The article said there is a fear among researchers that to come to an agreement on the budget, legislators might cut research funding, which has been on the chopping block before.

But most problems would come if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 17.

Pell Grants and student loans have not been affected because they are funded through June, to be in sync with the academic year. They will only be affected if the government runs out of money and can’t take on new obligations.

If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, it’s unlikely the government will value student loans and Pell Grants above Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — which make up the bulk of federal spending. It would probably also place veterans’ benefits over student financial aid.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs only has enough money to pay GI Bill benefits until late October, according to the article. Active military tuition assistance was suspended by the U.S. Department of Defense on Oct. 1.