From the Letters to the Editor column in the January 2000 Perspectives
Students and Faculty at Georgia State
Diane Willen, January 2000
To the Editor:
Mary Ann Fitzwilson ("With Their Eyes Wide Open: Guides to Graduate School and Beyond," Perspectives, December 1999) has drawn attention to helpful guidebooks and manuals as well as practices that can assist students in graduate school and on the job market. As one model for constructive action she praises an organization which has been successful at Georgia State University—the Association of Georgia State University Historians (AGSUH). As its name implies, AGSUH is an inclusive organization, with a faculty adviser, whose membership consists of graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty.
Graduate students created AGSUH and remain its guiding force. From the start, however, faculty have been supportive and recognized that AGSUH's initiatives complement and enrich programs and goals that the department promotes. For example, pedagogical sessions sponsored by AGSUH complement an earlier initiative by faculty—the appointment of a Teacher Mentor who provides guidance for graduate teaching assistants and part-time instructors. Faculty attend AGSUH's pedagogical discussions, and in turn, graduate students participate in faculty development seminars; in each instance, the goal is to strengthen instruction in first-year survey courses. Faculty have led AGSUH sessions on writing c.v.'s, and AGSUH members have provided feedback in the process of evaluating candidates for tenure-track positions. AGSUH's peer review sessions have been one factor in encouraging graduate students to present papers at scholarly conferences.
Upon the suggestion of faculty, this year AGSUH is using the financial support provided by the college and the department to fund—on a competitive basis—student participation at conferences. AGSUH has also sponsored programs which address important issues in scholarship. Last year AGSUH planned and presented a symposium, "Atlantans Remember the Holocaust," in which historians and Holocaust survivors participated. The program, funded by the college, drew interest across the university and was well received in the community.
Fitzwilson participated in AGSUH (after it was established) when she was a part-time instructor at Georgia State. She writes that AGSUH was created to counteract the lack of direction from faculty. I would suggest that AGSUH has been a mutual endeavor, supported by faculty who regard student leadership as one of the strengths of the organization.
Chair, Department of History
Georgia State University