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October 2009


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Steven Barnes <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Steven Barnes <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 7 Oct 2009 18:06:00 -0400
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Just one addition/clarification to Dick's report.  If you do not have an advisor, please see me ASAP.  This is something we should work on together.

Second, the issue of our military historians not taking on students does not apply to our current students.  (They will make that decision on a case-by-case basis, much as any potential advisor would.)  This, rather, is an issue for the admissions committee to have in mind.


Steven A. Barnes
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Director in History
Department of History and Art History
George Mason University
MS 3G1
Fairfax, VA 22030

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----- Original Message -----
From: Dick Harless <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Friday, October 2, 2009 5:16 pm
Subject: Issues, Etc.

> PhDers
> Issues discussed at the recent Grad Committee are as follows:
> *There's still some interest in finding news ways to accelerate 
> students through the Ph.D. program but most felt that the change 
> from Field Statements to Take-Home exams should do the trick.
> *Since 17 hours of tuition-free classes are available to RAs and 
> TAs each year, students in those two categories are urged to take 
> nine hours (and colloquium) one of the two semesters each year. My 
> comment was that during those semesters when students take nine 
> hours plus colloquium plus 20 hours of RA/TA required weekly work, 
> they're going to be very busy indeed. 
> *Much emphasis was placed on the need to think about a 
> dissertation topic as early as possible. Prof. Holt stressed that 
> most students should enter the Ph.D. program with a strong notion 
> of what they want to study and that their studies should focus on 
> this topic. Most students should also know fairly early who they 
> want as a dissertation advisor. (I commented that my whole program 
> was focused on what I needed to do to pass the oral exam. Prof. 
> Holt said that the purpose of the oral exam is to ascertain 
> whether students have the necessary knowledge to teach a survey 
> course in American History. That's all it is intended to do.)
> *I brought up the issue of students who are  unable to find a 
> dissertation advisor. Some have been told by a professor that 
> he/she is just too busy to be an advisor and others have said that 
> the dissertation topic is out of their field. Prof. Holt wanted me 
> to identify those students and action would be taken to help them 
> find an advisor. If anyone is in that category, please let me know.
> *The two professors who specialize in military history are 
> currently swamped and cannot take on any additional 
> responsibilities, including acting as dissertation advisors. 
> *Tad Suiter's term as a student representative on the Graduate 
> Committee has expired so we need someone to take his place. The 
> term is one year and reps are expected to attend three mid-day 
> meetings each semester. For the next seven days (until Oct. 9) I 
> will take nominations and self-nominations are not only acceptable 
> but are encouraged. After Oct. 9 we will then conduct an online 
> election. 
> The following is the History Society description of the 
> responsibilities of the Student Rep:
> "For those thinking of running, the following is the Graduate 
> Student Liaison description: 
> Two doctoral students elected by a majority of doctoral students 
> to the position of doctoral student liaisons to the graduate 
> committee fill a term of one year. 
> To ensure better continuity and smoother transitions, we 
> introduced staggered terms in the fall semester of 2007.  
> The student liaisons have the following responsibilities: 
> 1. To attend departmental and committee meetings to which they are 
> invited and: 
> a. To represent any concerns that the PhD student body may have. 
> b. To offer any suggestions relating to the graduate program. 
> c. To answer questions from the department regarding students 
> wishes or needs. 
> 2. To write up a summary of each meeting they attend -- including 
> pertinent materials related to the graduate students -- and to 
> make it available to all interested doctoral students. 
> (Understanding 
> that this will not include any sensitive materials discussed in 
> the meeting and/or materials the department would rather not make 
> public.) 
> 3. To alert the PhD student body whenever the liaisons will be 
> attending a meeting and solicit any comments or questions for the 
> meeting. 
> 4. To be available to hear the ideas and concerns of other 
> graduate students and to offer advice as to the appropriate method 
> of alerting the department to these issues. 
> 5. To be available to assist the department in assessing issues 
> relating to the student body. "
> That's it. If anyone has concerns, you can email me or call me at 
> 703-470-3571.
> Best,
> Dick