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Newly elected ECGPS leaders discuss vision for next school year

BY LAUREN COFFEY | APRIL 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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The newly inaugurated leaders of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students plan to keep graduate and professional students influential, not only at the University of Iowa but in the state of Iowa as well.

The Executive Council met Tuesday night in the IMU to hold its annual end-of-the-year reception, as well as hold an inauguration for the incoming president and vice president.

Michael Appel was the president in the 2012-2013 school year, and he will continue until May 20. Graduate student Ben Gillig will take over as president for the 2013-14 school year, with law student Matt Enriquez as his vice president.

Appel said, although the organization accomplished many things throughout the year, one of his favorite achievements was creating short, informational videos for each college at the UI.

“We were able to accomplish a lot this year, and I know Matt and Ben will also accomplish many things,” Appel said. “During my time, we discussed moving students’ success forward, and one way we did that was creating seven promotional videos highlighting the colleges. It showed the importance of graduate and professional students on the university and the state.”

Other programs the council formulated throughout the year were the “One Biggest Improvement” initiative, focusing on working on an area within each college that they hoped to improve. Some improvements included being able to help fund a new bone-density machine for the College of Pharmacy, and the College of Law will receive new chairs for the fall semester.

Gillig said he hopes to continue Appel’s strides in making professional and graduate students’ roles important at the UI. He said he has a few main points he will bring up to both UI officials and the state Board of Regents to consider.

“I’m really hoping to encourage both the UI and the regents on three components,” Gillig said. “Those would be affordability, degree completion, and career success. There’s always room for improvement.”

Enriquez said he is excited to continue to work with the council, and both he and Gillig have created an idea in which students that are involved with the Executive Council give their stories for the organization to use when presenting topics to UI officials or the regents. Their hope is to give the success stories a personal face, rather than providing statistics.

“We have a two-prong approach, external approach,” Enriquez said. “We want to look at the needs of other [student] governments and go out and get success stories from students. That’s crucial, because those are the types of things that put a face [to a success story].”

UI President Sally Mason also spoke to the graduate and professional students, commending the importance of the graduate programs at the UI.

“The University of Iowa has a very special trait,” she said. “We take shared government seriously. The faculty is involved, the staff is involved, and also there are respective student groups. Graduate and professional students represent one-third of the student body, which is highly unusual in a research university. It really is a thing of hallmark for the university.”

The students will continue to work throughout the summer and school year to show their abilities and ideas to the community.

“I feel honored to be chosen as the head of [the Executive Council],” Gillig said. “Graduate students are one-third of the student body, and I feel excited to be able to work with both new and old members.”


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