The 2022-23 Graduate Leadership Council (GLC) Executive Board has had a successful year of restoration, program development, legacy building, and inclusion initiatives. The GLC had a transformative year that started with a struggle to fill E-Board positions and ended with a record-breaking election turnout. This success did not happen by accident, but rather through a methodical strategy, strong leadership, and an overwhelming desire to uplift the graduate student body. 

The 2022-23 E-Board had a slow start with 2 out of 6 positions vacant and one member holding 2 positions. Newly elected GLC President, Stephan Fornah-Ovaa, had a massive challenge on his hands to appoint 3 new members to the E-Board after an election that only had about 230 voters. Fornah-Ovva found and appointed the right members for the job and created the 2022-23 E-board:

  • President: Stephan Fornah-Ovva
  • Vice President of Management: Duncan Hill (Fall 22) Ashley Koon (Spring 23) 
  • Vice President of Finance: Hunter Vaughn 
  • Director of Communications: Ashley Koon (Fall 22) Tirrea Billings (Spring 23) 
  • Director of Programming and Events: Samantha Noland 
  • Director of Clubs & Campus Relations: Claudia Rivera Garcia 

After elections and appointments, it was clear that the GLC had lost much of its institutional knowledge after the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the GLC lost much of its procedural knowledge about how to run the council. Together, the 6 members of the GLC rebuilt internal processes and procedures in Fall 2022 that would allow the E-Board to more effectively operate, host events, and address student concerns. This internal revival of the GLC was motivated by the E-Board’s desire to better serve the graduate student population and bring relevance to the student council and leadership at the graduate level. 

Restoration of GSCs 

In Spring 2023, the GLC set its sights on Graduate Student Council (GSC) restoration. KOGOD School of Business and the School of Education had GSC Presidental vacancies that deprived their respective student bodies to thrive and develop programming but constitutionally had to wait until elections for the following year to fill these positions. VP of Management, Ashley Koon, worked with administration and the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) to create Interim GSC President positions that allowed 1 semester (3-month) appointments of Interim Presidents for GSCs with tenantless cabinets. This interim position allowed school administration to appoint an Interim President who could spend student activity fees, plan events, run elections and even receive a student support payment. This initiative resulted in each school having a GSC President and later in the semester improved elections and involvement for the GSCs. 

Graduate Accessibility Equipment Pool 

Spring 2023 development continued with the creation of the GLC’s Graduate Accessibility Equipment Pool, which provides accessibility items for students with visible and invisible disabilities. This program was developed by VP of Finance, Hunter Vaughn, with assistance from VP of Management, Ashley Koon, Emerging Artist Leadership Symposium (EALS), and AU’s Disabled Student Union. The Graduate Accessibility Equipment Pool aims to fill the gap between ADA requirements and the needs of students by providing lighting options, seating options, fidget toys, and more. This equipment is available for checkout by club affiliate groups to create more inclusive environments and even includes a short script for leaders of events to notify event participants of the items available for use. 

Goodie Bag Giveaway Initiative

Director of Clubs & Campus Relations, Claudia Rivera Garcia, began a “goodie bag giveaway” that aimed to uplift graduate students during stressful times each semester such as midterms and finals. These goodie bags served as a way to address mental health, offer encouragement, and give students a chance to meet with GLC members on campus to pick up a goodie bag and connect. Over 200 goodie bags containing candy, stress balls, and self-care items have been handed out by the GLC to graduate students. 

Co-Sponsorships/Town halls

Constitutionally, the GLC is required to host town halls for students to raise concerns, give feedback and connect with other graduate students across schools. Stephan Fornah-Ovaa and Samantha Noland implemented town halls in the form of co-sponsorships and uplifted graduate clubs and communities by partnering with these groups for town halls. The GLC successfully partnered with the Graduate Black Student Union, The Project on Civil Discourse, and the Hindu Student Association to host events open to all graduate students on campus with important club-specific discussions and a chance to raise concerns to GLC members. 

Recognition For GLC & GSC Members

Gaps continued to be identified and filled by the E-Board and this included the lack of recognition for GLC and GSC members for the work they do to build programming and host events for the graduate student body. GSC members often work on a volunteer basis and GSC Presidents and GLC members are paid a modest student support payment per semester for their contribution. VP of Management, Ashley Koon, worked alongside CSI’s DaVanta Parker and Director of Graduate Student Success/Interim Cheif of Staff for the Office of the President, Andrew Toczydlowski to create recognition at graduation for GSC and GLC members. This recognition comes in the form of silver and gold cords at graduation for service on the student council and medals for GLC members sporting the GLC official logo. GSC and GLC members work for the graduate students despite school work and regular work to ensure graduate students have effective and fun programs offered and deserve this thank you for their contribution to AU’s student body. 

Applications & Voter Turnout 

This legacy building by the 2022-23 E-Board rippled through the graduate student population and created a new-found relevance for student government at the graduate level. When VP of Management Duncan Hill graduated in December 2022, three applicants were interviewed for his role, and after Ashley Koon moved from Director of Communications to VP of Management, 12 applications were received for the Director of Communications role before Tirrea Billings was appointed. 

Elections for the 2023-24 E-Board proved the 2022-23 GLCs successful year of restoration by bringing in 15 applications for the 5 open positions and garnered the highest voter turnout in recorded GLC history with over 380 graduate student voters. 

There is still work to be done, and the 2022-23 E-Board is confidently passing the torch. The newly elected 2023-24 GLC E-Board members to continue to rebuild the legacy of leadership, inclusion, academic excellence, and accountability.

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