Farewell Letter

Saying Goodbye After Two Years

Our fellow graduate students,

The Graduate Council of Arts & Sciences has come a long way in the two years that we have been Co-Presidents. We have accomplished a lot together to better support and enrich the lives of graduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences. We survived the onslaught of the pandemic and the uncertain times the pandemic brought with it. We kept our students socially engaged through several “Paint & Sips” at the Jolly Scholar. And we implemented professional development events throughout the year, including the first ever Graduate Student Scholarship & Creative Endeavors grant.

But most importantly, we started to build a sense of community in the College. When Ray joined the GCAS in the spring of 2020, and Cameron a year later, graduate students in the College often worked separately from each other’s departments, often not knowing other students in different disciplines. But through the hard work of the GCAS, we have started to bridge those gaps and create a sense of unity throughout the College. This can be seen in the growing number of people attending our events, from the paltry ten or fifteen people in the first few years to the hundred people who attended our recent Professional Development Week in April. We were shocked that we had a waiting list for the Paint & Sip social event at the end of that week!

We have also started to make progress tackling some of the big issues that face graduate students on campus. These issues range from stipend support to abysmal health insurance, security concerns, and harassment from professors. The Dean’s Office has been supportive in listening and addressing some of these concerns, notably working hard to increase student stipends to be more in line with inflation and rising housing costs. And through initiatives like the Presidents’ Roundtable, a group of graduate student presidents from across the University, we have started to band together and push the University administration to deal with these issues as well.

There is still a lot of work to be done. The University administration is often adversarial and slow to respond. The raises by the Dean, while appreciated, are still not enough to survive on. But if there is one thing that we have learned during our two-year term as your Co-Presidents, it is that we have power in our numbers. When we band together, working with graduate students in different disciplines and different schools, we are a force to be reckoned with. Just look at what universities like the University of California system, Boston University, and Duke University have been able to accomplish in recent years. By continuing to build a community, by continuing to support each other, by continuing to fight for better living conditions, we will make the College and Case Western as a whole a better place to work and learn and grow.

We have every belief that the next group of officers, led by Michelle Gotto, will continue to represent you and fight for what is in the best interest of all graduate students in the College. We ask that you help them continue this mission of growing a community of graduate students as we can only do that if we work together. And finally, we thank you for letting us lead the charge these past two years. We hope we have made an impact on your lives. Working with the GCAS has certainly made an impact on our lives.

Thank you and best of luck,
Ray Garner & Cameron Griffith

Ray Garner
Ray Garner
TAMU Astronomy Postdoctoral Researcher

I’m a scientist, Star Wars fan, and amateur photographer raised in Georgia. My research interests include galaxy evolution, star formation, satellite galaxies, and nebular diagnostics.