Campus News

Academic Affairs Symposium focuses on graduate, professional programs

The Academic Affairs Symposium was held March 18-19. (Submitted photo)

With steady growth of 5% to 6% over the past two years, the graduate and professional student populations are the fastest growing constituency of the University of Georgia.

To complement the administration’s recent investments to further advance graduate and professional education and to extend the conversation broadly, the 2022 Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium focused on these members of our community. The symposium, “Enhancing the Teaching and Learning Environment of Graduate Studies at UGA,” was held at Lake Lanier Lodge March 18-19.

Forty faculty members, academic leaders and graduate students from disciplines across the university gathered for a day and a half of presentations, breakout group discussions and networking events.

UGA President Jere W. Morehead addressed the group and shared several key administrative goals for growing and supporting graduate and professional education. Recent initiatives include moving the Graduate School to Brooks Hall, a fundraising initiative supported by $1 million in matching funds from the UGA Foundation Board of Trustees for endowed scholarships for graduate students, preparing to launch the GradFIRST seminar series in fall 2022 and introducing training grant opportunities.

In an informal Q&A, the president and S. Jack Hu, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, discussed a wide range of topics related to the university with the participants.

Symposium keynote speaker Ron Walcott, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School, provided an informative overview on the state of graduate and professional education.

Anne Shaffer, associate dean of the Graduate School and associate professor in clinical psychology and brain and behavioral sciences programs, presented the plenary session on student well-being. She described the growing number of tools and services that promote self-care that are available to students.

As part of the symposium, small working groups gathered to discuss experiences, explore challenges, share ideas and formulate recommendations to strengthen UGA’s success in five areas related to advanced degree programs: recruitment and retention, preparing future teachers, professional development, career pathways and professional students.

After presenting their ideas informally during the symposium, the breakout groups prepared letters to the provost that outline possible additional services and initiatives to assist students and faculty advisors.

The UGA Teaching Academy coordinated the symposium with funding support from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The 2022 Symposium planning committee was chaired by Josef Broder with members Malcolm Adams, Leah Carmichael, Paige Carmichael, Margaret Christ, Sonia Hernandez, Mark Huber, Michele Matthews and Marisa Pagnattaro.

Breakout groups were facilitated by Sonia Hernandez, Andy Owsiak, Denise Spangler, Suzanne Graham and Kaori Sakamoto.

The Ecotones, a UGA student a capella group, provided evening entertainment.