Archived Newsletters

October 2021

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From the Director

We have just passed the mid-way point of the fall semester, which means the holiday season, final examinations, and commencement are not far off. As we approach the end of another remarkable year, I ask that you reflect upon the academic work that you have done and the work that you have planned for the upcoming year 

As you consider this, please read carefully the call for proposals contained within this newsletter for our 2022 Graduate Student Colloquium that we have schedule for April 2022. Your program directors, faculty, and I all hope that you will submit a proposal to participate in what will be our fifth annual colloquium. This represents an excellent opportunity to share your current work with your colleagues and peers. At this time, we are planning for an on-campus event, with the opportunity for our many online learning students to participate live via Zoom or by submitting a pre-recorded presentation.

The Graduate Student Colloquium is one of our annual events that is designed to provide students with a professional development opportunity both to expand learning beyond the classroom and also to position themselves more strategically for success beyond the university. Our goal is to help you succeed and if we can provide any additional developmental opportunities, I invite you to submit a suggestion by completing the questionnaire included within this newsletter.

I hope that you are able to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and that you are successful with your academic and professional pursuits.

Dr. Michael Dixon
Director, Graduate Studies

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Alumni Spotlight: Tyler Stock

Meet Tyler Stock, 2018 Sociology undergraduate graduate and 2021 Master of Public Administration graduate. Tyler shares his graduate school experience and how an MPA degree aided him professionally.

+ What is your educational background?

Bachelors of Science in Sociology and a Master’s of Public Administration (Nonprofit focus)

+ What organizations, events, presentations, etc. did you participate in while at USI?

I wasn’t too active on campus during undergrad since I was working full time. During grad school I became a part of ASPA (American Society for Public Administration) and really started getting interested in community development and nonprofit engagement.

I have since became a Board member with Habitat for Humanity of Evansville and serve on multiple committees, completed the Welborn Baptist Next Generation Board Leadership Academy, a 2021 Rotary 20 Under 40 Recipient, and volunteer time on the Advisory Committee for Talent 2025 Poverty Reduction led by United Way of Southwestern Indiana.

+ Current occupation / What are you working on currently?

My current role is with Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana as Project Manager for Talent 2025 Educational Attainment. I know that is definitely a mouthful!... I have been in this position since January of 2021 and love having the opportunity to collaborate on such impactful work for our region.

Currently I am working on the Talent 2025 project specifically to support a shared regional education strategy. The region consist of Vanderburgh, Warrick, Henderson, Gibson, and Posey County. There are five workstreams (Population/Employment and Wage Growth, Educational Attainment, Poverty Reduction, and a Health Index) that are all focused on leveraging tactics to attract talent and expand community capacity within the respective counties. The three strategy areas for my workstream (Ed. Attainment) include:

Alignment of Higher Ed with Industry partners, Expand Capacity for Work-Based Learning

+ How has your graduate degree assisted you so far?

My graduate degree has provided me a variety of skills that I apply on a daily basis. With having a focus on nonprofit administration I have been able leverage skills around strategic planning, program/organizational evaluation, and grant writing techniques amongst so much more.

I would be remise to share that one of the most valuable things that my graduate degree equipped me with is the ability to think critically at an extremely high level. Going through the MPA program Dr. Engbers the current Director would challenge our us with case studies and real-life projects. This forced myself and classmates to think outside the box, yet still requiring pragmatism when developing concepts and solutions.

+ What are you looking forward to?

What I look forward to the most is my long-life learning journey that we all have the opportunity to engage in. I’ve graduated, but still learn every single day. The beauty of this mindset is that if you continue to learn and actively open yourself to failure and learning from failure the sky is the limit.

+ Any advice to current graduate students/alumni?

The one piece of advice that I would give current students and even alumni is “do the hard things”. I am only 27, but have found that the easy things are easy for a reason, and investing in doing the hard things is where we can all find purpose and passion.

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Spring 2022 Colloquium

Graduate Studies is now accepting abstract submissions for the fifth annual USI Graduate Student Colloquium that will be held in-person, with virtual options on April 6, 2022. The theme will be Existing Paths and New Directions.

Submit your abstract today!

2022 Colloquium Details

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Registration Reminder

Priority registration starts next week! Be sure to speak with your advisor if you are unsure of your course plan.

Register as soon as possible as courses will begin to reach capacity!

Registration Guide

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Professional Development Ideas

Your feedback is needed! Graduate Studies would like to offer relevant professional development opportunities exclusively for USI Graduate Students.

Share your idea

August 2021

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From the Director

On behalf of everyone associated with Graduate Studies, I would like to welcome all of our new students to the University of Southern Indiana! I also wish to welcome back those who have been with us previously, whether you are returning after a lengthy break or just a couple of weeks since summer classes ended. We are delighted to have you with us either on campus or virtually and we are here to do everything we can to ensure your success as you pursue your academic goals.

We have a lot planned for the upcoming academic year that I hope will be of interest to many of you. As our campus reopens fully, I want to ensure that it is accessible to everyone, especially those of you who are enrolled in our online programs. Whether it be orientation, commencement, or anything in between, we want all USI graduate students to have the same opportunities regardless of program or the modality by which it is delivered. If you are currently enrolled in an online program, please let me know what we can do better for you; let me know how we can enhance your USI experience.

We are currently in the process of planning our fifth annual Graduate Student Colloquium for late spring 2022. Information regarding the submission of proposals and the precise date will be made available soon. Additionally, Graduate Studies plans to host several professional development workshops this fall that will be available to students virtually and in some cases, I hope, in person as well.

A couple of months ago, I had hoped that we would be well on the way toward establishing a new normal, but unfortunately we continue to struggle with COVID-19. We managed to navigate the pandemic last year and I am sure we can do it again this year. I wish you all the very best in health, safety, and in your academic pursuits!

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Spring 2022 Colloquium

The fifth annual USI Graduate Student Colloquium date will be announced soon. The theme will be Existing Paths and New Directions. All USI graduate students and alumni are invited to participate.

View previous presentations on the Graduate Studies' website.

2021 Presentations

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Graduate Assistantships

Currently, seven Graduate Assistantship (GA) positions are conducting interviews. GA's receive tuition and fee waivers, as well as an hourly stipend for their contributions. Check out the open positions on the Graduate Studies' Student Resources website.

Open Positions

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Fall 2, 2021 Registration

Fall 2 registration is now available. If you are in an accelerated program, hurry and register before courses reach capacity.

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COVID-19 Updates

The University offers several resources for USI students to help protect against COVID-19, including testing, vaccinations and quarantine timelines.

Resources

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Online Learning

The Online Learning office at USI offers many resources for online graduate students. Check out their tips on their website.

Online Resources

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Virtual Coffee Hour

Virtual Coffee Hour with Dr. Michael Dixon, DIrecotor of Graduate Studies, occurs every 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 12 p.m. (CST). 

Join the chat

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Your Feedback is Needed

Graduate Studies would like to offer relevant professional development opportunities exclusively for USI graduate students. If you have an idea of an event you'd like to see offered, let us know!

Share your idea

November 2020

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From the Director

This is the last newsletter before the Thanksgiving holiday and the University of Southern Indiana’s Commencement Exercises, which will be held virtually on Saturday December 12. I would like to take this opportunity, first, to wish all members of the USI Graduate Studies community and their families a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday. Please be mindful of all recommendations issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Indiana State Department of Health (or the state in which you reside), as well as the guidance issued by local healthcare providers.

Secondly, I wish to congratulate our current students who will graduate next month. The past several months have been challenging, but you have persisted and persevered to complete your degrees; congratulations! It has been a pleasure to have you with us and we hope that you, as new alumni, will remain connected with USI and that you will keep us informed of your future successes.

Undoubtedly, challenges remain ahead for all of us, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread unchecked. While constantly remaining vigilant, we must also remember to celebrate those around us, such as Ms. Samantha Ripple, whom we feature in this Newsletter. Samantha is an English teacher at Tecumseh High School, where she has continued to teach her students both in person and virtually. Please join me in thanking Samantha for all she and her colleagues do to ensure that local students continue to receive the highest quality education, despite the challenges they face every day.

Again, I wish all of you the very best for the holidays. Stay safe, practice good hand hygiene and physical distancing, and wear a mask.

Dr. Michael Dixon
Director, Graduate Studies

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Student Spotlight

Graduate Studies Samantha Ripple wearing mask while teachingI’ve been a teacher at Tecumseh High School in Warrick County for twelve years. I teach senior English, AP Literature & Composition, and yearbook. I earned my bachelor's degree in Secondary English Education at Indiana University. I decided to get my masters in English from USI because of the incredible College Achievement Program (CAP) which supports teachers in becoming certified to teach dual credit classes.

As a teacher in Warrick County, I am required to teach in-person classes while simultaneously live-streaming the class to virtual students. This multiplatform teaching has proved to be exhausting; it takes twice as long to complete tasks because my attention is split between two groups of students. I have found that I am working outside of school hours far more this year just to stay on top of the workload. However, my students are resilient. As seniors, they are missing out on so many “lasts” as high schoolers, but they are taking it like champs. They make all the extra work I’m doing worth it. 

Graduate Student Samantha Ripple with daughter, AliceI began my master's degree this summer. Since I work full-time and have a 3 ½ year old daughter, it has worked out well for me to have my grad classes completely online. Both classes have had weekly synchronous Zoom meetings, so I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out of the connections with my professors or peers. 

It’s easy to give into anxiety, especially in situations where you cannot control nature or what other people decide to do. My advice is focus on what you can control. Make it a priority to be kind. Everyone needs a little extra grace shown to them this year.

Online Resources & Self-help

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Graduate Student Colloquium

We welcome abstract submissions related to the theme of The Urgency of Now: Empowerment through Education and Social Justice from USI graduate students and alumni for the fourth annual Graduate Student Colloquium. This event will be held virtually on April 7, 2021.

Colloquium Info

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Fall 2020 Graduation

The Fall 2020 Graduation will be held virtually on Saturday, December 12. All 2020 USI graduates are invited participate in this virtual ceremony.

Graduation FAQs

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Upcoming Office Closures

The University Campus will be closed November 25 - 29, 2020 for the upcoming holiday.

Campus will also be closed for Winter recess beginning December 23, 2020 - January 3, 2021.

USI Calendar

October2020

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From the Director

As we settle into fall, I cannot believe that we have been managing to live, work, and pursue our degrees in a world transformed by COVID-19 for more than seven months. The pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives and livelihoods. So many of our interactions have migrated to a remote environment: we had to cancel commencement in spring 2020 and our fall commencement exercises will now be held virtually. These are milestone events, yet they just scratch the surface. It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the rapidity with which our lives have changed and the extent to which those changes have permeated our world. It is easy, at times, to become despondent; there are, however, always reasons for optimism.

This month we feature another one of our graduate students. I invite you to learn about Ms. Charley Todd, a current student in the Master of Education program and a 5th-grade teacher in the EVSC. Her story, as well as Kimberly Burk’s story in last month’s Newsletter, provide examples of why there is reason to remain positive and optimistic despite the severity of this pandemic. While so much has changed in our world, one constant I see daily is the dedication, determination, and unstinting commitment of USI’s graduate students. Charley and Kimberly provide examples of how our students are navigating successfully the pandemic while maintaining standards of excellence in their lives, in their work, and in their studies.

If there has ever been a time to highlight the accomplishments of our students, who serve as paradigms of positivity, it is now. Over the coming months, I look forward to sharing additional stories of our students’ exceptional ability to transform the lives of others during these challenging times.

Dr. Michael Dixon
Director, Graduate Studies

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Fall 2020 Graduation

The Fall 2020 Graduation will be held virtually on Saturday, December 12. All 2020 USI graduates are invited participate in this virtual ceremony.

President's Address  FAQs

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Spring 2021 Registration

Priority Registration starts this week! Be sure to speak with your advisor if you are unsure of your course plan. 

Register as soon as possible as courses will begin to reach capacity!

Course Registration Tips

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Student Spotlight

Charley Todd, Graduate Education Student

I am a 5th grade teacher for the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation. This is my fourth year with the EVSC. Before moving to Evansville, I taught for ten years in the Atlanta area. I am in the MS in Education (MSE) program and will graduate in the Spring. I obtained my bachelor’s degree from Brenau University in Georgia.

The pandemic impacted the end to the 2019-2020 school year. Our last day physically with the students was March 13th, 2020. For the remainder of the semester, we taught virtually. At that time, teaching virtually involved creating a Google Slide presentation with 30 minute lessons for core subjects every other day.

The start of the 2020 school year was delayed for two weeks. As a result, I was extremely overwhelmed when the year did start because my USI classes and my job all started at the same time. The first part of the school year is always extremely busy for teachers, so for the first month, I wondered if I was going to be able to actually do my classes at USI and continue to be an effective teacher.

The set up of my classroom is completely changed. The desks are socially distanced and facing the same way. I prefer to use tables arranged in a way to promote community and collaboration. Students are not permitted to leave their seat, and if they are out of their seat, they are required to wear a mask. If they are facing any direction except straight forward, they are required to wear a mask. The students are in the classroom almost all day, with the exception being recess, bathroom breaks, and the days they have gym. When we are in the hallway, students must wear their masks, and This creates a need to be creative to keep the students engaged. We have built in brain breaks and the students are permitted to stand by their desks while I lead a guided movement activity. Before the pandemic, students were moving around all of the time, and were able to be in small groups, and working with their peers in a much closer space. This has been difficult for the students who do not fully understand the reasoning or need for the guidelines.

The education strategies I use are also very different. As a result of the pandemic, my students are not able to work as much collaboratively. We do some collaboration, but the students must stay in their desks with their masks on. They are not allowed to share supplies or handle each other’s belongings, so collaboration is not as effective as previous years. Small groups are also changed. I only meet with 1-3 students at a time in short burst for direct instruction to their needs. This makes fully meeting the needs of the students more difficult. The good news is that there are less students in my class, which does help with the stiuation.

Teacher wearing mask

The students arrive 15 minutes earlier now, which eliminated our grade level PLC time. PLC time is a needed aspect because it allows us to review data and make decisions with our instruction and curriculum based on the needs of our students that the data shows. It also allows us to work together to ensure all instruction is effective and understood by all of the teachers. Since I plan ELA for my grade, PLC time would be a point when I make sure that everyone understands and knows the purpose behind the lessons, the set-up, the upcoming 

assessments, and other instructional/curriculum needs. We still have our personal plan period, but we often use this to perform the tasks that would normally occur within our PLC time. As a result, I don’t have as much personal plan time and bring home more work than I normally do. I spend more nights and weekends working on teaching stuff than I have in previous years.

My research has changed as well. Previously my research was going to focus on the benefits of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in the classroom, but the pandemic has changed the way we teach SEL. Now my research is focusing on the difficulty and changes to teaching SEL during the pandemic. I am a firm believer of SEL, and I am excited to do my research around it but I wish the pandemic hadn’t changed so much about this valuable aspect to classrooms.

Overall, I think the biggest change is that I feel isolated in my workplace, as do other teachers. My students also feel isolated from other classrooms and from each other.

My advice to others working through a pandemic to to be flexible. Understand that things are changing constantly and 

that you may not have control over what is happening. Try to be understanding and know that no one is intentionally trying to make things more difficult for you or those around you. Another piece of advice I have is use time management. Create action lists and schedules and follow them. It is very easy to feel as if you have more time because you are not going out as much but time still needs to be managed. I believe that action/work lists help people be more organized and prepared to tackle multiple aspects of life, such as grad school and work, even when a pandemic is not happening. Know who your support people are and know your own boundaries and limitations. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay to step back and do less things sometimes. Finally, remember to do some sort of self-care whether that’s yoga, meditation, drawing, or something else. I am a certified yoga instructor so yoga is my go-to and recommendation.

Every family or situation is different. While I chose to return to my classroom and work with my students during a pandemic, I have a 17 year old daughter that is doing Virtual Academy. She and her mental health team determined that in-person classes was not good for her. My husband, DeWayne, is amazingly supportive of our family and is able to be at home with her as her learning coach. He is my rock, an amazing dad to our kids, and I would not be able to do any of the things I do without him.

Online Resources & Self-help

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Spring 2021 Graduate Student Colloquium

Theme: The Urgency of Now: Empowerment through Education and Social Justice

We welcome abstract submissions related to the above theme from USI graduate students and alumni for the fourth annual Graduate Student Colloquium. This colloquium will be held virtually on April 7, 2021.

Submit Abstract

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COVID-19 Updates & Online Resources

The start to the Spring 2021 semester may look different than expected. Read the latest statement from President Rochon regarding a safe return next semester.

COVID-19 Dashboard  Online Resources

September 2020

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From the Director

We have reached the midterm of the fall semester and our bi-term courses will be concluding in a couple of weeks. Although most graduate-level courses are being offered online this semester, it has been a pleasure to see a number of our graduate students on campus and in our office. You may have seen the campus-wide announcement, but in case you did not, the official number of graduate students registered this fall is 1,766, which marks another record enrollment. Graduate Studies and USI’s graduate faculty are honored that you have chosen to pursue your degrees here and we are delighted to have you with us!

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how we work, how we learn, and how we study. Beginning in this issue, we shall feature over the next few months some of our graduate students, and how they are managing their careers and studies during the pandemic. This month, we are pleased to highlight Ms. Kimberly Burk, a graduate nursing student. We are indebted to the work that she and all other health care providers perform daily. One can only wonder where we would be were it not for their dedication, fortitude, and commitment to service.

Also featured in this issue is our new Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program, which is beginning to enroll students for the fall 2021 semester. This program will be delivered entirely online and in an accelerated format. I want to express my congratulations to all who were involved in its development and we look forward to welcoming the first class of MACJ students next fall.

Despite the challenges we face, all of us at USI are committed to providing each of you with an outstanding graduate experience, both inside the (virtual) classroom and outside of it. In the coming weeks, look out for announcements regarding the Graduate Student Professional Network and also the Graduate Student Colloquium, which we plan to host again this spring. Please also know also that you can reach out to me directly if there is anything I can do to help improve your experience at the University of Southern Indiana.

Dr. Michael Dixon
Director, Graduate Studies

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Record Enrollment

Graduate Studies has surpassed previous Fall enrollment numbers for the fifth consecutive year. Total graduate enrollment is 1,766. 

Thank you for choosing USI to further your education!

Read Article

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October Registration

Some programs offer accelerated, 6-week courses. If you are eligible, note that October courses are quickly reaching capacity. Plan to register as soon as possible. Bi-term courses begin October 19, 2020.

Course Registration Tips

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Student Spotlight

Kimberly Burk, Graduate Nursing Student

I am currently a Nursing Professional Development Practitioner at Deaconess Hospital and the Critical Care Educator for all Deaconess Campuses. I am enrolled in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program and will graduate in 2021. I completed my BSN through Murray State University in 2007. I have not completed other degrees at USI but I do want to mention that I have been an adjunct instructor at USI for the undergraduate program for several years as well.

When the pandemic first began, our department strictly focused on education, planning, and preparing clinical staff in the hospital in anticipation of an influx in patients to the hospital. We had several staff members from the education department work on the units to assist with staffing. We trained staff in proper PPE for COVID patients and assisted in creating policies and procedures to care for COVID patients. Deaconess is very fortunate to have a great team and we were very proactive in preparing staff to care for these very sick patients. While my normal role was put on hold during the lock down, we continued to prepare staff and assist in any way possible.

My advice to other students working through the pandemic is to focus on self-care and your own mental health. It has been very taxing as the pandemic has progressed and we have seen a lot of very sick patients. It is your job to care for these patients but sometimes I feel we forget about our own mental health and it is crucial to just take a minute to focus on taking care of yourself. Team work is even more important now than it has ever been and we should continue to provide support for each other during this world-wide pandemic. There are a lot of good resources out there that can assist healthcare workers on improving morale and mental well-being.

Coping with Stress

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Criminal Justice Approval

The Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program was recently approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. This is the newest graduate program to be offered by USI. We are currently accepting applications for Fall 2021.

Program Objectives:

  • Students will build skills relevant for leadership in their field and the community including critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and effective communication. 
  • Students will describe the theoretical foundations of criminology and criminal justice institutions and be able to apply these theories to inform criminal justice policy.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to utilize social scientific research methods and statistics in order to study crime, criminal justice institutions, and criminal justice policy. 
  • Students will articulate the historical, legal, and practical nature of criminal justice policy and how policy is related to the functioning of criminal justice institutions. 

Read Article  View Flyer

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COVID-19 Updates & Online Resources

With the health and safety of the University of Southern Indiana campus top of mind, USI is maintaining a COVID-19 dashboard that includes weekly and cumulative numbers of reported positive COVID-19 cases as well as students quarantining, both on and off campus. The dashboard is updated weekly on Friday.

COVID-19 Dashboard  Online Resources

Contact

Graduate Studies Office

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