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Graduate Student Council Represented at the AAAL Executive Committee Midyear Meeting

Thursday, December 17, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Nicole Pettitt, co-chair of the Steering Committee of AAAL's Graduate Student Council (GSC), was in attendance at the October meeting of the Executive Committee (EC). This was the first time a graduate student member had been invited to attend an EC meeting, marking a new level of graduate student involvement, as well as affirming AAAL’s support for graduate student leadership. Nicole shares the following reflections on her experience:

“My GSC co-chair, Daniel Ginsberg, describes the process of doing something new as a group as “building the bridge as we cross the river.” Being the first grad student to represent the GSC at the Executive Committee meeting felt a bit like that: much unknown at the outset, and much learned along the way. Two-and-a-half days of meetings are difficult to distill, so I will share two positive results of graduate student representation at the EC meeting, as well as two notes specifically for graduate students.

Better communication between the GSC and the EC. In the past, graduate student leadership submitted a written report for each EC meeting. Now, with GSC participation at EC meetings, we are able to represent our work and graduate student questions to the Executive Committee in more nuanced and complete ways, not only during our slot on the agenda, but throughout the course of the meeting. This allows the graduate student and organizational leaders to listen to one another on a wide variety of issues and increases transparency between the two groups.

Understanding the big picture. While observing the inner workings of our organization at the midyear meeting, I began to grasp the larger picture – as well as the values and concerns that drive the mission and ongoing decision-making of our EC. For example, while all boards are charged with the stewardship of material and human resources, at the EC meeting I witnessed our leadership’s careful and thoughtful attention to both human and organizational relationships as they attend to this work. These insights have been invaluable as my co-chair Daniel and I go about the work of serving graduate students and leading the GSC’s Steering Committee in ways thatreflect those same values and concerns.

Finally, two messages especially for our grad students. One, the EC’s mid-year meeting takes place at the hotel where the next year’s conference will be held, in this case, the Hilton Orlando, so I had a chance to scout the conference site. I posted some pictures on our Facebook page and staked out areas grads have expressed interest in: conference hotel digs, pools, gym, meeting spaces, restaurants, airport transportation, public transportation, and the neighborhood surrounding the hotel. Stay tuned for Facebook updates on these as the conference nears. Second, several opportunities for continued graduate student involvement in AAAL arose at the EC meeting, and continue to arise. Keep your eyes peeled for calls for service via Facebook ( and Twitter (@aaalgrad).

Many thanks to AAAL President Paul Kei Matsuda and the rest of the Executive Committee for so warmly welcoming graduate student representation on the EC – and for their patience with me as I learn the ropes!”

Daniel Ginsberg, Georgetown University
Nicole Pettitt, Georgia State University

Image: AAAL Executive Committee at the October 2015 meeting. Pictured L to R: Sarah Berke (AAAL Managing Director); Aneta Pavlenko; Lucy Pickering; Junko Mori; Jeff Connor-Linton; Tim McNamara; Scott Jarvis; Nicole Pettitt; (not pictured, our photographer: AAAL President Paul Kei Matsuda).

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