Graduates assembling at UA for national conference

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

This weekend the UA campus will be invaded by graduate students from across the country.

About 100 graduate students from schools throughout the United States and Canada will arrive at the University of Arizona today to participate in the National Association of Graduate and Professional Student Council's annual conference, said Tom Cooley, NAGPS national conference coordinator and a UA optics graduate student.

The UA, which has never hosted the conference before, was selected to host the conference based on a proposal submitted by Cooley last December.

"The conference offers the campus visibility with grad students across the country and lets the students see some of the great things UA has to offer," said Georgia Ehlers, Coordinator of Grant and Scholarship Development at the UA Graduate College. Ehlers served on the conference's steering committee.

Cooley said he thinks holding the conference locally will benefit UA graduate students.

"Holding the conference at the UA gives more graduate students an opportunity to participate at a national level advocating for graduate student issues," he said. "It is expensive to send a large number of people to national conferences."

About 10 Graduate and Professional Student Council members will attend the sessions and serve as hosts to the conference attendants, he said.

Mitzi Forbes, GPSC President and a regional coordinator for the conference, said the conference focuses local attention on graduate issues at a time when they are often ignored.

"The conference focuses the attention of the university and the community on graduate student issues," she said. "In the recent climate of focusing on undergraduate education, we get the sense that the two (undergraduate and graduate education) are pitted against each other. The two are not mutually exclusive the quality of each rises and falls together. We are students too and our issues need to be addressed also."

During the conference's three informational sessions, graduate students and national organizations will present information on topics including the First Amendment, sexual harassment, graduate student government and tax issues.

UA graduate students are encouraged to attend the informational sessions, which will be Friday and Saturday in the Student Union, Cooley said.

During the Saturday morning session, Forbes will make a presentation about NAGPS's role in health care reform. Bill Bottke, a GPSC member, will also present information about the Student Showcase, a student research fair taking place in early November.

Other sessions include representatives from the Internal Revenue Service and a speech by Martha Gilliland, UA Vice Provost of Academic Affairs.

NAGPS will also conduct most of its national business and voting during the conference. The only other time members meet during the year is at regional conferences in March.

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