Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

New awards recognize graduate coordinators

[Graduate coordinators]
Allison Sherman (Art History) and Wayne Snedden (Biology) are the inaugural recipients of the Featured Graduate Coordinators of the Year award.

Allison Sherman (Art History) and Wayne Snedden (Biology) are being recognized for their work with graduate students through a new initiative launched by Sandra den Otter and Kim McAuley, Associate Deans, School of Graduate Studies. 

The inaugural “Featured Graduate Coordinators of the Year” initiative is aimed at highlighting the best practices among graduate coordinators.  

“Graduate Coordinators help the grad student community in their departments thrive. With this new initiative we want to highlight best practices and provide peer support to all graduate coordinators on campus, especially those who are new to their roles,” says Dr. McAuley. “Professors Snedden and Sherman have set wonderful examples of how to provide the best support to graduate students and supervisors.” 

Allison Sherman 
As a relatively new PhD and adjunct professor, Dr. Sherman says she was initially daunted by the role of graduate coordinator, but she quickly found that her recent experience as a graduate student was actually an asset in understanding the challenges and anxieties students face, before and after graduation.  

She has found that students will come to the graduate coordinator “in moments of real anxiety and panic” and the faculty member must be ready to listen and respond to the real concerns that the students are dealing with. Sometimes all they need is a sounding board, or a bit of compassion and encouragement from a neutral party. 

The emotional labour involved in the job is also rewarding, she says, as the graduate coordinator is offered the opportunity to walk with students on their journeys through the graduate program, to watch them grow as individuals and scholars. 

As graduate coordinator, Dr. Sherman met with students in cohorts in September and March, to address the specific needs of students at each stage of their graduate programs. These meetings were timed to set them up for success from the start of a new school year, and to keep them on track as they embarked on the more independent work that generally accompanies the loosely structured spring/summer term. She also ran a series of external grant workshops, providing detailed information about the process, expectations and deadlines for the standard external applications (particularly SSHRC) and facilitating an opportunity for students to peer-workshop their grant proposals.  

Wayne Snedden 
Dr. Snedden has been the graduate chair for the Department of Biology since December 2013. He took the position because he knows how crucial administrative work is to the functionality of a department and because he wanted to continue the process of improving the department's graduate programs. In his role Dr. Snedden works with the Biology Department Graduate Committee to develop new cutting-edge programs and courses. He also shows sensitivity for the learning environment and welfare of graduate students. It is this combination of program development and attention for students that has made Dr. Snedden so successful. 

The Department of Biology is currently developing a combined Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Master of Science program aimed at undergraduate students who wish to complete a Master’s degree at Queen’s in two fewer terms. Students will do this by getting a head start on their Master’s course work and research during their Honour’s year.  

Dr. Snedden says he also wants to help graduate students during their time at Queen’s and is taking an active role in ensuring that the department's graduate students have at least one supervisory committee meeting each year. Furthermore, Dr. Snedden aims to be a person who students can come to if they are struggling personally or with a project.