The excellence of our department relies on notable contributions made by those in the department administration, academic programs, advising, fiscal support, computing, and the front-office. Given their role in our continued success, we have decided to spotlight an individual staff member in each newsletter. In this issue, we’d like to highlight the one individual whom all graduate students encounter before enrollment and who serves as the cornerstone of the graduate student experience – Susanne Recordon.
After working in the Dance Program and in Mechanical Engineering, Susanne was hired in October 2002 as the Political Science Department's Graduate Program Assistant. She applied to work in our department three times before being hired into her current position. She was attracted to the department based on contacts with staff as well as the visibility of a number of our programs and centers. Since joining the department Susanne has provided a guiding hand for graduate admissions, placement, and the progress of students in the graduate program. As one graduate student observes, “None of us would succeed without her work, and each of us owes her a great debt."
Susanne genuinely cares about our graduate students. Her devotion stems from a desire to cultivate a supportive graduate student culture that did not exist during her graduate student experiences. Graduate students notice her efforts and uniformly praise her for making a difference in their lives. In the words of one former graduate student: “Susanne keeps everything running extraordinarily smoothly, but goes far beyond the requirements of her job, taking an active interest in my life and research, and pushing me to keep working when I feel discouraged. Susanne cares as much about my progress as my dissertation committee members do.”
Graduate admissions is among the most demanding, exhausting, and nerve-wracking tasks of any at the University of Washington. Susanne has worked with eight different faculty admissions directors over the last twelve years, each with their own approach to the admissions process. She is exceedingly patient and painstakingly accurate in managing the process, setting up recruitment events for admitted students, and working through the details of admissions. Her work can be seen in the quality of graduate students in our program.
Susanne is also highly proactive in supporting graduate students during a crucial period of their lives – the search for academic and professional positions. She organizes workshops on securing positions in academia, helps students construct applications, and supports our faculty placement coordinator. Her efforts have played no small part in helping us obtain a very strong placement record.
Susanne’s deep knowledge of the UW Graduate School rules and procedures, and long-standing relationships with key staff in both the Graduate School and other units make her an essential resource for our graduate students and faculty. She is often called on to resolve funding issues, visa issues, or other problems that involve navigating a labyrinth of rules. The quality of her contributions to our department as well the extraordinary degree of appreciation our graduate students have for her work is reflected in her receipt of the 2010 UW Graduate and Professional Student Association Graduate Program Assistant of the Year Award.