--> New graduate students encouraged to take risks

The University Record, September 16, 1998

New graduate students encouraged to take risks

By Jane R. Elgass

Graduate students are the individuals who "make this place move," Provost Nancy Cantor told new graduate students at a welcoming ceremony Sept. 4. They are the "glue" that holds up the faculty and brings the undergraduate students along.

She also warned the Rackham Amphitheater audience of more than 300 against becoming complacent, of the perils of accepting automatic judgments. "Graduate school challenges the self," she said.

"We need to challenge. We need to push out from automatic beliefs. We as faculty demand that of you and expect it," the provost said, noting that the students are far enough along in their fields and their lives to "provide challenge for us as a faculty. You don't fully believe. We have to believe it. You can come in with a certain level of skepticism and ask, 'Is the discipline all-wise?'"

As she had done earlier in the week when welcoming new faculty to campus, Cantor encouraged the graduate students to "challenge the canons, the lifestyles, the distinctions we hold dear. Push the envelope for us."

Change is a constant in our lives and you "can become part of the tide or harness its energies and become a change agent," Earl Lewis, dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, told the incoming graduate students.

Acknowledging that not all of the students would join the academy after graduate work, he encouraged them to prepare themselves for all possibilities and "to take intelligent risks in the company of others and in concert with the Graduate School."

He also urged them to find role models who will be honest with them, who will invest in them, and to find mentors, who might not even be at the U-M.

Also speaking at the welcoming ceremony were Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon, who touched on the special town-gown relationships, and Rackham Student Government (RSG) President Ann Reeves, who detailed the ways in which RSG "looks out for your welfare."


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