Oceanography Graduate Council
The years in review: 1993-1995
by D. Craig Cooper
Have you talked with a graduate student who is familiar with the activities
of the Oceanography Graduate Council (OGC) executive board lately? Whether
faculty, staff, or student-you may be interested to learn what the OGC has
accomplished over the past few years.
If, after reading this article, you want to express your thoughts to an OGC representative,
you could log onto one of the department computers and check out our web site
(accessible through the Texas A&M Oceanography
Home Page), learn the latest on the OGC's activities, then come find one of
the members of the OGC executive board. If you have time to drop by a bimonthly
meeting, you are invited to the 11th-floor conference room every other Monday
between 12:30 and 1:30. Or just email your ideas to OGC
and we will find you. Your input is welcome.
Student travel and research
O&M and beyond
OGC began a campaign to eliminate qualifying exams for students seeking
a master's degree. Students believed that since the degree of difficulty
and content of these exams varied among sections and annually within single
sections, they did not fairly test student knowledge. In 1994 the oceanography
department responded to student concerns and eliminated qualifying exams
for master's degree students.
OGC actively participated in the search for a new department head. Many
students had the opportunity to meet and interview one or more of the candidates,
and student input was important in the final selection.
OGC learned that the core-courses were not adequately preparing graduate
students for future careers in oceanography. We helped initiate a movement
to give the core-courses more "core" and insure that all students
learn the necessary information. In 1995, Department Head Dave Brooks created
a committee, which included a student representative, to provide recommendations
for improving the core courses. The department has implemented the committee's
suggestions and the "core" of the courses will be more rigorously
OGC took steps to insure that all graduate students will be provided with
reasonable access to all departmental computer services-free of charge!
This includes use of printers, personal computers, Unix workstations, and
access to email and the internet.
The Department of Oceanography received six new Power Macintoshes. These
computers (along with user-friendly desks and chairs) were installed in
room 1102, and are available for graduate students to use 24 hours a day.
These computers have been a tremendous asset since they were unveiled. A
printer and color scanner are expected shortly. CD-ROM databases will be
purchased as soon as OGC compiles a list, and new software will be added
whenever OGC is informed of the need.
OGC actively participated in the search for two new faculty members. Again,
many students had the opportunity to meet and interview the candidates and
student input was important in the final selection.
OGC anticipates the arrival of a new photocopier for general student use.
Each oceanography graduate student will receive a copier code which allows
a limited number of copies (~150) per month.
Student travel and research
- For many years, OGC mini-grants have helped a great number of students
to complete their research and attend national meetings. The list is long,
but among those students are John Pohlman and Celia Villac, both of whom
defended within the last six months.
- OGC recently developed a plan to make travel money from the Graduate
Enhancement Funds available to all students on a first-come, first-served
basis. Applicants are urged to find matching funds for travel grants.
- The enhancement funds will also help improve departmental facilities,
maintain resources in the Working Collection, provide dollars to help prepare
presentations, and support student research to the greatest extent possible.
O&M and beyond
- OGC has always provided funds and organizational time to plan social
events. Although the style of these activities may change, OGC will continue
to facilitate social occasions. Financial constraints have led to the demise
of the "Big Parties," but OGC plans to replace them with a series
of smaller events that require less time and money.
- OGC attempts to help foster a sense of unity within the Department of
Oceanography by hosting monthly luncheons in the observatory of the O&M
Building and helping new students learn the ropes.
- OGC continues to perform community outreach programs. This February
several oceanography graduate students judged a local science fair. The
Galveston Beach Clean-Up was a huge success in 1995 (See "A day at
the beach with the OGC" in the Fall 1995 Quarterdeck). With some help,
we can do it again in 1996.
- Texas A&M University has a lot of outdoor equipment and OGC has
money for equipment use and university vans. Does anyone have ideas?
During the past two years OGC has become an active governing body, and the
efforts of the executive board help shape departmental procedures, provide
needed facilities and services for graduate students, and provide outlets
for stress relief. OGC's efforts have had a positive effect throughout the
department. There is still much to do and executive board members have plans
These goals can be met with a little help from students and faculty alike.
Many OGC stalwarts will graduate soon, and the organization needs an infusion
of enthusiasm. This is a group in which individuals can make a large difference
with a little time. The foundation is there and we need to build on it.
What OGC really needs is your input. Come on... it'll be fun!
- Upgrade and rebuild the 6th-floor computer lab
- Improve student research opportunities on the Gyre
- Facilitate the planning of weekend-excursions for groups of oceanography
- Host informal departmental luncheons more frequently
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Oceanography, Texas A&M University
Updated May 27, 1996