Letter from the GSF Presidents: Denae Johnson and Joe Waggle

GSF Presidents Denae Johnson and Joe Waggle

GSF Presidents Denae Johnson and Joe Waggle

First of all, let us say how proud we are to have served the GSF as co-presidents this past year. We are humbled to have served as the GSF’s first Black woman/ gay man leadership team. Probably. We don’t know, that’s not really something the GSF keeps track of.  Regardless, we’re currently in talks with the Bravo network to parlay our administration into a reality show. While we wait to hear back from the network, though, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of the things the GSF has accomplished this year. Despite our failure to enact legislation that would mete our swift punishment for people who misuse the word “literally” (our now-infamous Lohan’s Law), we have nonetheless made some great strides during our short tenure leading the GSF.

Our first and most important job this year was to welcome the incoming graduate student cohort. They are a group as talented as they are numerous, and they brought with them a diversity of experiences, personalities, and research interests. Despite being one of the largest cohorts the department has ever accepted (at a robust seventeen students), they have nonetheless transitioned smoothly into the program and into the graduate student community. We are proud and excited for their progress, and we expect big things from this latest batch of scholars.

We also continued the GSF’s effort to implement and reinforce a mentorship model among graduate students and between grads and faculty. Most notably, we have been working with Kendra Barber, who spearheaded the administration of a survey this year that gives the graduate student body a chance to offer their opinions (and air their grievances) regarding faculty mentorship. We intend to use this information to make recommendations to the department about the state of our mentorship model, continuing the parts that are working well and strengthening the parts that aren’t. We are pleased with the progress that we have made in this endeavor, and we hope it will help to optimize the mentorship potential of our excellent faculty.  And we also hope to improve upon our graduate student mentorship model, easing the transition into the department for upcoming cohorts.

Finally, we have worked diligently to connect the issues of the sociology department to the larger graduate community here at the University of Maryland. We have been working with the Graduate Student Government (GSG) to make sure that the voice of sociology grads is being heard in the discussion of issues affecting the University at large, including the ongoing debate about graduate student unionization and a continued focus on highlighting important graduate research. At the college level, we have been working with the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee (DGSAC) to ensure that sociology grads are able to give input into issues facing the Behavioral and Social Sciences, as well as making our grads have access to important college resources.

Overall, this has been a year of transition. Both the student body and the faculty have grown, the research interests of our department have evolved in new and exciting directions, and the structure of our program has begun to respond to both internal changes as well as changes at the University level. It has been a good year. We have been proud to serve, but we could not have done it without the support of the graduate students, faculty, and staff. You’ve all helped make this year both painless and productive for us. It was truly wonderful working with all of you, and we enjoyed every moment of it. We could literally do this job forever.

Your benevolent leaders,

Denae Johnson and Joe Waggle

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