Welcome, graduate students new and returning, to the 2018-19 academic year. Today, 9/5, we begin again. One of the great things about being involved in education in any way, as student or professor or anything else really, is that we get to experience these punctuated moments of significance in the cycle of the annual calendar, in the cycle of our lives. Here at the start of the academic year the Dobbs Ferry campus, where I sit and write this post, is packed and buzzing. Hallways are dense with students and faculty and administrators on the go as much as with the din of classroom discussions. Down by the river, athletes practice their various sports for the fall season. Out from the dorms spill laughing and hollering students. The library is already a riot of activity and the cafeterias are packed. Parking lots are full. These halls are alive again, and so too today are the virtual halls of our online coursework. I hope you all are ready for a new semester, a new academic year, and are as eager to get into your studies as I and your other MA professors are to start exploring together the literary pathways ahead.
As you go out into your classes this year you might keep in mind the School of Liberal Arts (SLA) theme for 2018-19: transformations. The SLA theme is something that our Dean, Dr. Tamara Jhashi, began several years ago, is selected anew each year by a faculty vote, and is meant to provide a unifying beacon shining across all the many different SLA programs and departments. It provides us a light to which, if you’re interested in the idea and/or in feeling a part of the SLA academic community, you might turn in your studies, paper topics, discussions, etc. It’s nothing formal, and you don’t have to give it another thought if it’s not interesting to you. But if you’re looking for a way to increase the feeling of being a part of an academic community, of being a part of something larger, then you might consider how your studies in any of your classes might engage or involve the theme of transformations. When it comes time for the spring symposium here on the Dobbs Ferry campus, those of you who are able to participate might find the theme of transformations a useful one when developing possible symposium papers. Perhaps!
Another thing you might keep in mind as you go about your studies, and particularly later in the semester as you gear up for writing your various term papers, is the assessment criteria we use internally in the program when evaluating the final ENGL 599 thesis papers which each of you will eventually write during your final semester in the program (and some of you reading this are about to start writing your 599 thesis papers right now). Even though these criteria are only applied to the 599 paper, and even though they are just used internally and are something we need to track as part of our college’s accreditation requirements, they can still be useful for all of you to know and keep it in mind when writing any paper for any class: because as you’ll see in the assessment rubric we use the criteria correspond to the program’s five learning outcomes, which are the big-picture things we hope you are learning throughout your time the program; and because the criteria are just the basic sorts of things all literature students should be working to address, improve, even perfect in all of their scholarly papers. So each of you should take the time to download the 599 rubric and just read over it to learn the sorts of things we look for and measure through it.
Okay that’s it for the main points I wanted to touch on here at the start of the new academic year. Before signing off let me provide you with links to some of the resources available to graduate students here at Mercy College. This information repeats information found elsewhere on this blog but some of you might find it helpful to have it repeated here all at once. Okay this blog post here contains a rundown of resources and contact-info that Mercy College provides for its students, whether on-campus or online. On this post here you’ll find critical information about the incomplete “I” grade which some of you might occasionally receive. For those approaching their last semester, you must pay attention to your required comprehensive exam, to the instructions for how to enroll in the final 599 course, and to the application you must complete in order to graduate. For those hoping to enter the college teaching job market check out this post here where I introduce a variety of resources and information on that topic. If you’re going to be applying to anything in any academic field you’ll need to have your curriculum vitae (CV) polished up and also need to know the difference between a CV and a resume. I talk about that here.
Finally, remember that although you can get advising from Student Services, I serve as faculty advisor to every student in the MA program. I am here to help and to answer any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Okay that’s it! Have a great school year and fall semester, everyone. Check back here regularly for program news and info. I’ll be putting up a post soon sharing some news on recent faculty publications and other scholarly activity, as well as a post announcing the spring registration-opening date. So make this blog a periodic stop this semester and all during your time in the MA program. Final note: if any current students or alumni have any news about scholarly activity, publications (scholarly or creative), jobs or doctoral-programs, please share this with me. Cheers, all.