New Academic Chair, Laurie Laker
This past May, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) held its annual elections. All positions were up for re-election and representatives from the various Graduate Arts and Sciences departments who were eligible cast their vote. The Graduate Forum will be profiling the newly-elected board members so that graduate students can become better acquainted with the new leaders.
The new academic chair is Laurie Laker. Laker, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) student starting his second year, conducts research in the areas of literature and politics. He explores the “space and interaction between public and private discourse on war and conflict—how the private reflections of a serviceman on one event may differ from the press releases or coverage regarding that same event.” Laker, who served this past school year as a representative for MALS to the GSC, said one of the reasons he ran for the position was because it seemed exciting to be involved in the academic and professional scholarship that brings all students at Dartmouth together.
The role of the academic chair is to foster and strengthen the graduate student community at Dartmouth through facilitating events connected to academic pursuits. The academic chair makes sure that Dartmouth graduate students are involved in student life beyond the research lab and classroom. Building relationships outside of an individual’s department is important for interdisciplinary work, which is fundamental for research today. Through activities such as Nerd Nite, graduate students are able to be academically engaged and share their passions with others. Another task of the academic chair is to oversee the conference funding requests of graduate students. This is vital as traveling and presenting research is critical to a graduate student’s learning experience.
When asked what he would like to see change, Laker said “… better communication and interaction across the Graduate Arts and Sciences departments and programs. I think that there’s a very natural tendency for people to stick close to home and close to what they’re comfortable with academically and socially.” Laker wants to encourage students to engage more actively in the wider community. This is a versatile position that hinges upon creating new events, as well as carrying on previously held events, in order to discover what will encourage student participation.
The Graduate Forum congratulates Laker on his election and wishes the best for all of the incoming GSC executive board members. For information about the Graduate Student Council and upcoming events, visit the GSC site.
by Britney Tappen