Welcome to Tech! New classes, new friends, new professors, a new campus, a new football season and best of all a new building with a brand new Starbucks! These are just a few of the things to look forward to as you begin this year at Tech. What many of the returning students know at Tech is that the journey from convocation to graduation will not be a smooth journey full of nice weather and warm sunshine. It will likely include a chance ice storm or blistering heat that will challenge you along your path to graduation. Without avail, your professors will raise those hurdles one notch at a time as you take strides to earn the degree that you seek at the finish line. One thing that I can assure you of though is the degree that awaits you will be well worth the money, time, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into it. The value of a Georgia Tech degree is rivaled, but unmatched. Be proud of this school and the work that you have done along the path to success, and never give up.
Aside from academics, there is vast potential for personal growth and learning. For me, the Graduate Student Government Association is where I decided to learn outside the classroom and lab. The lessons in this arena won’t involve equations of motion or calculus, but may involve writing white papers on the effects of the Special Institutional Fee (or the “Tuition” Fee as I not-so-affectionately call it) or generating graphs on attendance costs as compared to our peer institutions. Whatever your motivation, or whether you are a graduate or undergraduate student, seek out opportunities to learn outside the classroom. This is how you will truly complete your Tech education. You are not only learning for your career, but you are learning for your life. The experiences that you have while at Tech will surely change you forever.
For the graduate students out there, I encourage you to come out to the Graduate Student Picnic on Sept. 2 from 5-7pm on the Instructional Center Lawn for free food and t-shirts as well as to informally mingle with other students as well as faculty and staff. Over 2,100 of you came out last year, and we’d love to shatter that attendance record. If you are looking for some extra travel money for a conference or a fellowship to help you along your way to your degree, submit an abstract to the faculty-judged Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Conference to be held Feb. 6-7, 2012. Last year we awarded around $85,000 to Tech’s best research projects. And if by chance you are looking for a job after you graduate, be sure to check out the Graduate Career Symposium to be held March 8. You’ll get valuable information on how to succeed in upcoming job searches.
Aside from the programs we organize every year, we are working on a few key issues of interest to graduate students. I already mentioned the Special Institutional Fee which we are committed to tackling and bringing down. The Tech administration feels much the same as we do when it comes to this fee. It hurts Tech’s competitive advantage with regards to recruiting the best grad students and it should be rolled into graduate tuition. Health insurance costs are going up as well, but again we have an ally within the administration. This year the President and his team have committed to increasing the health insurance subsidy for those in the mandatory student health insurance plan by $200 for a total of $400. They have also committed to increasing this subsidy over the next 2-3 years until it covers the same proportion as is covered for faculty and staff. This is something that wouldn’t have been done if not for the hard work of graduate leaders in the past. We are also undertaking a process to break away from the Board of Regents’ health insurance plan and obtain a Tech-only plan that will allow greater control over benefits and premium levels.
In closing, I’d like to reiterate what I’ve said before. Don’t limit your learning at Georgia Tech to activities within your labs or classrooms. Tech is full of opportunities around every corner to learn and make a difference not only in Atlanta, but around the world. Broaden your horizons within student organizations and make your mark on the Georgia Tech legacy. Mediocrity is not part of the equation for success at Tech, nor should it be. If I can be of assistance to you along your own path to success, a helping hand is only an email away.
Welcome to Tech! Go Jackets!