When I began as Program Director 1 ½ years ago, one of the first things I determined was that I needed some additional administrative assistance to help me carry out some of my plans for the program. That need ultimately led to the hiring of Kate Magsamen-Conrad, one of our doctoral students, to be my administrative assistant. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in this role—and it is why I am going to really miss Kate as she steps down from this position (and into a much better role on Kathryn Greene’s NIH-funded health communication grant). As she leaves this role with the program, I wanted to say a bit more about the work she has done in the past 18 months.
The incoming class got to know Kate pretty well, because she did all the logistics for our very successful spring recruitment event last year (from nametags and dinner menus, to travel and hotel arrangements). Kate also assisted with our fall new student orientation—one of the most extensive we’ve ever developed. One of her biggest assignments related to admissions, where she scanned in applications so all faculty could view material on a Sakai site online. Kate was also instrumental in collating the accomplishments gathered from annual student reviews into a single document detailing the productivity of students over the previous 12 months. In addition, she helped me in developing the “getIN” brand, assisted in the research and creation of several of our promotional items, wrote profiles about other students on the job market, and prepared a detailed alumni database for future use. Those are just a few of the things that come quickly to mind as I consider the work she has done for the program.
Beyond the more tangible and concrete tasks, there were many “little” things Kate did that I will sorely miss—bouncing around promotional ideas with me, brainstorming locations for events, thinking about website material, pointing out spelling errors in my blog, and just keeping me on task. She was so perfect in this role because she had both a sense of student climate and a feeling for faculty perceptions—and then combined that with an eye for detail and a great mind for organization. Of course, I knew this about her when I hired her, and she did not disappoint.
But Kate is not just a strong administrative assistant—she is a talented graduate student here in our program. As I recall, she is coauthor on a recent article in Human Communication Research, has a book chapter forthcoming, and is part of a research team that has submitted multiple other manuscripts for publication consideration. She has been on several conference papers during her time here—including a couple presented on top paper panels. She served as chair of the Student Section of the National Communication Association, has served the profession as a paper reviewer and panel respondent, and has guest lectured in classes. Kate is the type of student who is not only doing great things now, but will make us very proud after she has finished her dissertation and moved into a tenure-track faculty position.
Although there were some less than wonderful moments for Kate in this role (e.g., her son dropped her keys down the elevator shaft and her cell phone was stolen while working for us; and, some of my research tasks for her were no doubt a little painful), we all generally had fun working together. I also would like to think Kate benefitted from the position (hopefully in ways that will make her better prepared for graduate education when she joins a faculty in the near future). Regardless, Kate, I will miss you and the program will miss you. You have made your mark here as both a student and as our administrative assistant. Thanks, Kate…you’ve been great.
The Director has left the Deck.