There was a new wrinkle to Graduate School Commencement this year – awards for members of the staff for distinguished service to the Graduate School and its students. Susan Roberts, associate dean of the Graduate School and professor of chemical engineering, called the staff contributions “indispensible” in supporting the university’s graduate teaching mission.
“Moreover, they frequently exceed the parameters of their job descriptions by serving students as advisers, career counselors, local guides, cultural ambassadors, bankers, real estate agents and relationship coaches,” she said.
The Distinguished Graduate Staff Awards went to Barbara McGlynn, administrative assistant for the MFA Program for Poets and Writers, and Dorothy Adams, academic advisor and director of alumni affairs for of the mechanical and industrial engineering department – whom Roberts called “two of the finest.”
Roberts said that graduate students form a close relationship with Adams “from the moment they said foot on campus,” adding that over the past 14 years, Adams has earned a reputation as a “problem-solver of the highest order.”
“Adams’ institutional knowledge is vast but her best-known quality is the kindness she displays to those she serves,” said Roberts. “More than an academic advisor, Adams is a mentor, friend, and confidant to many MIE students. As a result, students frequently credit much of their academic success and personal happiness to Adams’ help in guiding them through impasses in their research and assisting them in setting and realizing goals.”
By the same token, “panic ensues” among MFA students in the English department when Barbara McGlynn takes a day off, said Roberts.
“McGlynn frequently transcends her duties as program assistant in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers to function as an academic advisor, program liaison to the Graduate School, institutional navigator, and life coach,” she said. “In fact, she is often recognized as the glue that holds the program together, an indispensable part of her academic community and of the lives of MFA students.”