New leadership for UI graduate students

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | APRIL 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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Kelli Todd spent her undergraduate years in the Cardinal and Gold colors of Iowa State University.

Now, the University of Iowa graduate student will head one of the UI's two main student-leadership groups.

Todd, who is seeking a degree in public health and health policy, was named the next president of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students Tuesday evening in the Pappajohn Business Building.

The 26-year-old said she plans to "get her hands dirty" and work to increase a joint effort between the Executive Council and the UI Student Government.

"I want to bolster a foundation that's already been placed," said Todd, a member of the Graduate and Professional Allocations Committee, after current President Lyndsay Harshman announced her appointment.

Todd, a Sioux City native, defeated Kristi DiClemente, a graduate student in history.

The president-elect said she's long been interested in the job but wanted to ensure other delegates respected her as a viable candidate.

Todd, who has worked for Sen. Jeff Danielson, D-Cedar Falls, in the past, has a good understanding of state government, Harshman said.

UI law student Michael Appel will take over as the Executive Council vice president in the next academic year.

Appel, who ran uncontested, said his campaign platform consisted of three main topics: teamwork, visibility, and communication.

A former UISG senator, Appel said he wants to continue to encourage teamwork among UI graduate and professional students.

"I want to advocate for our student body," he said.

Appel, a graduate of Iowa City West High, said he would also like to continue working with state legislators on higher-education issues, just as Harshman did this year.

He said he wants to create an orientation at the start of the year to allow the Executive Council members to familiarize themselves with the system.

Harshman said she will challenge the incoming leadership to continue working to keep a presence in the State Capitol to speak to legislators about decreasing state education appropriations and increasing tuition costs.

John Keller, the dean of the Graduate College, said both presidential candidates would positively contribute to the Executive Council, but Todd may have had a leg up on her competition.

"I didn't realize that Kelli had sort of legislative experience," Keller said. "That might be an advantage for her."

And Todd, a self-proclaimed "grass-roots" person, is looking forward to continuing her advocacy experience.

"Representing students is something I do and something that becomes second nature," she said. "It's an honor, it's a passion."

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