Graduate students enjoy ice cream during last year's social.
During the week of April 13-18, the Graduate Student Life Office will present Graduate Appreciation Week to recognize and honor the contributions made by graduate students, teachers and researchers.
Last year, the event brought hundreds of graduate students together through ice cream and pizza socials, a picnic, an advisor-advisee luncheon, a sushi dinner and spa night.
“Some joked that it should have been called ‘Gain Weight Week,’” said Kathleen Hutnik, director of Graduate Student Life, of the well-attended series of events.
This year’s social events will include a traditional Pizza Taste-Off featuring a panel of Lehigh judges, an ice cream social and an hors d’oeuvres reception at the Steel Gardens.
There will also be a workshop on “Making the Transition to the Workplace,” which will join industry representatives and Lehigh faculty members John Coulter, professor of mechanical engineering, and Suzanne Edwards, assistant professor of English.
New this year will be a President and Deans Award Reception for grad students and their faculty advisors in the Wood Dining Room on Wednesday afternoon, and a breakfast featuring harpist Andrea Wittchen in the Bayer Galleria on Friday morning. On Saturday, the new Lehigh chapter of the National Association of the Women MBAs will host a picnic in Saucon Village.
None of the events would be possible without generous support from all over the campus, Hutnik says. Co-sponsors include Auxiliary Services, the President's Office, all four Colleges, the Dean of Students Office, the Alumni Office, Library and Technological Services, Residential Services, ArtsLehigh, Printing Services, and Transportation Services.
“We are very appreciative of the co-sponsorship on campus,” says Hutnik. “Offices have made both financial contributions to hold the various events and others have provided raffle prizes. In addition, local merchants have been particularly generous this year. Of course, our local pizza merchants continue to make our pizza taste-off a great success, and more merchants than ever have contributed gift cards for prizes.
A strategic component
Hutnik said that the graduate student population is often overlooked, and unappreciated for the richness of diversity they bring to the student body and the contributions they make to the campus culture.
“We want them to know that we’re paying attention to them,” Hutnik says. “This is an opportunity for us to thank them for all that they do through mentoring relationships with undergraduates to the teaching and research assistance they provide to their professors.”
While many universities focus student life attention on undergraduates, Hutnik says that Lehigh has responded by focusing attention on the graduate population in its long-range strategic plan. The plan notes that “graduate students are a richly diverse resource for our community, and we must to do more to guarantee that the best and the brightest graduate students are attracted to Lehigh.”
The plan further acknowledges the role successful grad students play as “ambassadors of Lehigh’s achievements in research and teaching to the broader academic community around the nation and beyond.”
Through this plan, the university is committed to community building to encourage grad students to become more involved in the life of the community and to identify themselves as university students rather than only members of their home departments. Lehigh will also address support and infrastructure needs and facilitate greater interaction with the undergraduate population through development programs, multicultural events and productive mentoring opportunities.