“When Faculty Say ‘X’ …” Do you understand what faculty say and mean? Dinner seminar, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013

Do you ever wonder what your faculty expect of you? Have you been given directions or instructions, but wonder what your faculty is asking of you? Do you have questions about what professors are looking for during the dissertation process, or how they interpret performance on comprehensive exams? Do you wonder if your professors are saying x, but really mean y? Professors have expressed that when they say X …, they mean X.  Is there a way to listen differently? Is there a way to be sure that you are understanding expectations clearly?

Each year, PROMISE; Maryland’s AGEP and The Graduate School at UMBC host a dinner seminar to allow graduate students to ask questions of faculty. This year, the  “When Faculty Say ‘X’ … ” seminar will be held on Friday, October 11, 2013 in the first floor lecture hall of Academic IV (The George and Betsy Sherman Building) at UMBC. A full-course dinner will be served.
This is your chance to ask the faculty any questions about expectations, understanding requirements, how they say “no”, how they show their approval, express sentiments using body language, etc. You can ask any and all questions during the seminar, or post questions (anonymously) in advance as a comment on this website. 

This year we will have the participation of department chairs and associate chairs from across campus:
  • Dr. Nagaraj K. Neerchal – Department of Mathematics
  • Dr. Christopher Murphy – Department of Psychology
  • Dr. Stephen Freeland – Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Dr. Tamra Mendelson – Department of Biological Sciences
  • Dr. Craig Saper – Program in Language, Literacy, and Culture
  • Dr. Charles Eggleton – Department of Mechanical Engineering
Please note that you can gain a wealth of information from graduate faculty, regardless of whether they are from your department or not. We will also reflect upon and review past advice from faculty representing many departments in all colleges throughout UMBC.  We invite graduate students from ALL disciplines to attend.

*ALL* students are asked to post questions for faculty here! These can remain anonymous. Faculty will answer your questions at the dinner seminar on Friday, October 11, 2013.


Photo reference: Partial cover image from Steven Strogatz’ The Joy of x — A Guided Tour of Math from One to Infinity, from NY Times BlogSteven Strogatz and The Joy of x” http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/joy-of-x/?_r=0


Related PROMISE article:

Communicate with your faculty (A message for new and continuing grad students.)


Tags: , , ,

Categories: Academic Preparation, Ph.D. Completion, Seminars and Workshops, Success Seminars and Workshops

Author:Renetta Garrison Tull

Dr. Renetta Garrison Tull is the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of California Davis. She previously served as Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives at The Graduate School at UMBC, and was Professor of the Practice in the College of Engineering & IT. She was Special Assistant to the Sr. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Director of Graduate and Professional Pipeline Development for the University System of Maryland (12 institutions). She is the Founding Director of PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) – http://www.umbc.edu/promise, and Co-PI for the USM LSAMP. Her research on global diversity in STEM continues, and she is an international speaker, covering nearly all continents, for groups and conferences such as the World Engineering Education Forum, the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies, and the Pacific Sciences Congress. Her personal website is: http://renettatull.wordpress.com. Connect with her on Twitter: @Renetta_Tull; https://twitter.com/Renetta_Tull

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29 Comments on ““When Faculty Say ‘X’ …” Do you understand what faculty say and mean? Dinner seminar, Friday, Oct. 11, 2013”

  1. Joseph Isaac
    October 4, 2013 at 10:32 AM #

    Joseph Isaac
    University of Maryland, College Park
    Department of Computer Science


  2. October 5, 2013 at 12:41 AM #

    Bryant Best
    University of Maryland, College Park


  3. Grad Student
    October 7, 2013 at 2:43 PM #

    I’m a new student and am not used to an environment where professors don’t speak to students. When I say hello to my professor when I walk down the hall of my department, he just looks at me and keeps going. Then when I go to office hours, he barely answers my questions. This has happened with several professors here. I’m doing well on the tests, so I shouldn’t be perceived as being a bad student. Can the professors shed some light on this behavior?


  4. Anonymous
    October 7, 2013 at 10:22 PM #

    As a graduate student returning to studies after a hiatus for work experience, I sometimes find it challenging to cope up with the undergraduate knowledge that I gianed around 4-5 years ago. Does a faculty take this into account when addressing new graduate students? Or the faculty expect that we should know all the concepts beforehand?


  5. Shashank Devan
    October 7, 2013 at 11:01 PM #

    Sometimes it so happens that all the assignments, exams and quizes take toll on a graduate student and takes up lot of his time which he might as well use to carry out good research. How would you expect students to manage thier time and also carry out some nice research work?


    • Piyush Waradpande
      October 7, 2013 at 11:08 PM #

      There are some faculty members whose lectures are totally uninteresting, yet students are required their courses towards degree completion. How should an ideal student go about such a situation?


  6. N Shweta
    October 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM #

    1) I as a graduate student find myself as a person who is just diving into research. What level of research does the faculty expect from me? When I try to read research papers from scientists in my field, I find myself daunted and discouraged. When the faculty gives a research assignment, how much level of depth is expected?

    2) I as an international student come from a totally different frame of mind when it comes to research. Research in my country is not given that level of prominence until PhD. But coming here, its pressurizing to adjust with the curriculum demanding too much time. So when the faculty says you need to read papers from journals and suggest improvements in them, its difficult to select a research topic at the first stage. On top of that modifying those research papers (which are published at the top conferences in the world) is something very very challenging. What does the faculty expect from students when they give such a challenging assignment?


  7. Anonymous
    October 8, 2013 at 11:15 AM #

    When a faculty member gives a special assignment, what difference is expected compared to the normal assignments? Or is it just a regular assignment with a buzzword attached to it?


  8. Anonymous
    October 8, 2013 at 11:17 AM #

    When a faculty gives students a special assignment, what difference is expected from the normal assignments? Or is it just a regular assignment with the added buzzword?


  9. Anonymous
    October 8, 2013 at 12:10 PM #

    When a faculty doesn’t have time to review something right away, is it fair to email them after some time, to remind them of that? How much time do we have to wait to remind them?


  10. Anonymous
    October 8, 2013 at 12:49 PM #

    Beyond completing course work, how do professors determine when a student is “ready” to finish and move ahead with their dissertation


  11. Anonymous
    October 8, 2013 at 1:00 PM #

    Assume an international PhD student wants to get married with a person from his homeland and as a matter of fact, he really doesn’t have enough money for a two-person life. Is there any options for him to take more money from school or another organization or maybe a person?
    Generally, how we can solve our financial concerns?

    Thank you so much in advance.


  12. Rachel Sturge
    October 8, 2013 at 3:13 PM #

    If you are writing a paper and you have more than one professor who is giving you feedback, what should you do when their feedback contradicts one another? For example, what if one professor has told you to do your analyses one way and another professor doesn’t like it and wants you to change it? When one of them is your adviser, it seems like it would be best to follow their advice, but what if you have two advisers, or neither of them is an adviser? How do you decide whose advice to follow, and how would you suggest students should resolve the situation?


    • Dr. Mabuse
      October 9, 2013 at 4:17 PM #

      Maybe schedule a meeting and get both of them to attend to directly resolve the conflicting comments. Don’t get stuck in the middle here.


  13. Kellie
    October 9, 2013 at 12:20 PM #

    When there is an aspect of the class that I find doesn’t exactly work for the for class is it my place to make a suggestion for the the professor?


  14. Sad PhDer
    October 9, 2013 at 8:23 PM #

    I am a second year PhD student and am really excited about my research, but find that my advisor does not share the same energy for my project. Additionally, I have reached out to other faculty members that I would like to work/research/take classes with and have notified my advisor who usually tells me to “slow down” or to not pursue these relationships. This is very startling to me, because it feels like my advisor is trying to hold me back and limit what I am capable of doing. That said, I was wondering if you could offer me some advice on how I should approach my advisor about this concern. Also, should I be “shopping around” for another faculty member that is a bit more supportive?


    Sad PhDer


  15. Anonymous
    October 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM #

    Hello! I would like to attend this event.
    1) Randon McCrea
    2) Bowie State University
    3) Organizational Communications (M.A. Program)


  16. Anonymous
    October 9, 2013 at 9:18 PM #

    How would you suggest new graduate students maintain an appropriate/effective balance between classwork, lab work, and their other obligations as graduate students? (methods for time management/ scheduling life in graduate school) .
    Thank you!


  17. Anonymous
    October 9, 2013 at 9:27 PM #

    How would you suggest new graduate students go about maintaining an appropriate balance between lab work and classes, as well as their other obligations as graduate students ? (what is the appropriate balance? What strategies would you suggest for time management?)

    What qualities did your most successful graduate students in the past exhibit?

    Thank you!


  18. Anonymous
    October 10, 2013 at 12:29 PM #

    I am currently working on my master’s thesis. I have been approached with the question, “What do I plan to do after I finish?” Since many professors and my advisor included expect me to continue for a PhD, I have dodged this question. How do I respond? I am concerned that if my advisor finds out I am no longer interested in obtaining a PhD, I might lose funding for my last semester. How do I approach this situation?


  19. Anonymous
    October 10, 2013 at 3:49 PM #

    Why the GAs in the Department of Mechanical Engineering receive the LOWEST stipend in UMBC?


  20. Anonymous
    October 10, 2013 at 7:15 PM #

    I’ve talked to a few people in my PhD program and they’ve asked their advisors (as I have) about using courses from our Master’s degrees for our PhD. In our minds, we are extremely excited about our potential research (dissertation) and our comps, and want to get there as quickly as possible. However, I’ve talked to 3 other PhD students in my program, and we’ve been told the same thing, word for word: “We can talk about that later”. For us (we are all first year PhD students) the subtext seems to be “no”, but…what does it really mean?


  21. Anonymous
    October 10, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

    I am curious to know the distinction between what is considered assistance on the doctoral level when writing research papers. Can someone explicate the difference between receiving assistance on writing and content in dissertation house compared to receiving it elsewhere? Does working on a paper in dissertation house classify as assistance? Why or why not? If feedback is received, and/or recommendations and advice offered in that environment and subsequently changes to the paper are made, how does it impact the outcome of the paper? If the same assistance is received elsewhere does it change the perception of assistance? How do either, assistance in dissertation house or elsewhere, affect the outcome of the final grade?


  22. William Berkley Easley III
    October 10, 2013 at 11:42 PM #

    What are good ways to go about introducing yourself to professors within your department that you have never met? Even though I already know what i am going to be working on for the next two years, I would still like to introduce myself to professors who have areas of research that interest me.


  23. Cherre Jefferson
    December 20, 2013 at 3:50 PM #

    Cherre Jefferson
    This talk was about introducing the best methods for interacting with your professors, dealing with the different personalities of your faculty and getting to know your professors. As a first year graduate the advice on getting familiar with my department and faculty members was very helpful especially because I tend to be more on the shy side.


  24. Kayla Lemons
    December 26, 2013 at 12:01 PM #

    This was a great seminar! The professors gave some eye opening comments that I found very helpful as a new graduate student. One thing that I really took away is the idea put forth by several professors that as a graduate student, we have to learn how to learn. For me, this underscored the importance of graduate school as a self-driven learning experience. There were also a good representation of faculty from different departments , which I also appreciated. Overall, I really enjoyed this seminar, and it was a nice way to wind down and get some good advice after Friday classes.


  25. Alexander Smith
    January 1, 2014 at 3:09 PM #

    As I reflect on the previous semester, I would like to comment on how useful this seminar was for a graduate student like myself. The panel allowed their own personalities to come through when responding to students question which gave a broad range of advice on how to communicate with faculty. I was very fortunate to have the chair of my department, Dr. Eggleton, on the panel answering questions on how some technical minded faculty express their expectations and requirements. I want to thank the PROMISE program for organizing such a useful event.



  1. Dissertation House for Employees and Non-Traditional Students starts Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 | The Dissertation House - October 7, 2013

    […] “When Faculty Say ‘X’ …” Do you understand what faculty say and mean? … (promiseagep.wordpress.com) […]


  2. Dr. @Renetta_Tull & @UMBC Faculty host #WhenFacultySayX Oct. 9, 2015. Students have questions. Faculty have answers. | PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP - October 7, 2015

    […] “When Faculty Say ‘X’ …” Do you understand what faculty say and mean? Dinner seminar, Frid… […]


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