ECGPS focuses on Biggest Improvement initiative, transparency


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The Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students has a simple goal this year: making sure students know it exists.

Luke Stauffer, the public-relations liaison for the Executive Council, which develops initiatives primarily for graduate students and helps provide grants, said council officials are focused on making both undergraduate and graduate students aware of what the organization does.

“We’re working with the IMU Marketing team, using social media, to really help people understand that we’re there, and letting them know what our role can be and how we can help,” Stauffer said.

Executive Council President Michael Appel said the organization's main job is to work with the administration and the state Board of Regents to improve the university experience for graduate and professional students through grants and new programs.

One of these new programs is the Biggest Improvement Initiative. Involving all six of the Executive Council’s member colleges, the organization will work with the colleges individually to find and develop improvements to their programs.

The change will be tailored to each college, Appel said, and it will be up to the colleges to determine what needs improvement.

“Our students have such different interests, focuses, and skill sets, and so something that may benefit the law students may not necessarily benefit the med students,” he said. “It will definitely be a partnership, and we’re looking for them to provide what they would like.”

Appel says it’s not a small undertaking.

“We really want to accomplish something substantive that will benefit the constituents [of the colleges],” he said.

He hopes to have all of the improvements finished by the end of the school year.

Another initiative the Executive Council is working on is one that has been continued from last year: Universities For A Better Iowa. The program is focused on what Iowa’s three public universities can do to better their respective communities and the state as a whole, Appel said.

The program was pitched to the regents last year, and Appel says the they were instrumental in its success.

“[Universities For A Better Iowa] wouldn’t have happened without the regents’ support,” he said. “We have a great relationship with them, they’re always asking for input, which is fantastic, and we will always be there to provide it.”

Executive Council Vice President Emma Hashman, agrees.

“At every [regents’] meeting, there’s always a breakfast or lunch with students, because they always want to hear what we’re working on, what’s important to us, and how they can help us,” she said.

Like the Executive Council itself, the program’s main goal is to improve its visibility to the community.

“We saw a need for Iowans to realize the benefits that the public universities were providing to the state,” he said. “They weren’t realizing the enormous impacts that our three public universities have.”

Overall Appel hopes more students learn about the Executive Council and its role at the university.

“We want to continue to spread the word,” he said. “… We want to be seen as a problem solver, that if students have issues, they’ll give us their concerns, and we’ll help remedy those.”

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