New Faculty Position to Support El Instituto’s Graduate Students

Contributed by Rodolfo Fernandez.

Rodolfo Fernández Ph.D.

In my five years teaching at UConn, I have had the opportunity to teach well over a thousand students.  I have no doubt that it would not be possible to teach so many people without the help of graduate research and teaching assistants.  I know how invaluable the labor and intellectual contributions of graduate students are, which is why I am excited to start a new position this year supervising El Instituto’s Graduate Assistants. 

The Instituto created this new position to enhance the support we give to graduate students and the faculty with whom they work. In coordination with the Director and Associate Director of El Instituto, the Supervisor of Graduate Assistants will be the dedicated liaison for our graduate workers 

At the top of the list of the supervisor’s duties will be to foster and maintain open lines of communication with graduate students. I want to know if students are experiencing any problems that affect their responsibilities in the classroom; this includes any conflicts that may arise between graduate assistants and faculty. In case of conflict between the supervisor and a graduate assistant, students can rely on the Director or Associate Director to mediate.  

We want to see all graduate students succeed, and we understand that multiple organizational issues must be addressed to create the conditions for success. With each new semester comes the challenge of TA (teaching assistant) or RA (research assistant) assignments. One of the supervisor’s duties will be to match the graduate students’ strengths and abilities with the faculty’s needs while prioritizing the students’ class schedules. Nothing should come between the student and their ability to complete their degree in a timely fashion.  

Graduate assistantships at the master’s level are not common, so we value the training our students receive through these assignments. To ensure that every student makes the most of these opportunities, the Supervisor of Graduate Studies will assist with orientation and training and will perform assessments of each assistant at the end of the academic year.  

Finally, the Supervisor will be a fixture on the graduate admissions committee. The cultural and intellectual vibrancy of El Instituto hinges on the process of selecting and recruiting prospective students. Each incoming cohort of graduate students brings unique skill sets and research interests; the Supervisor’s active involvement in the shaping of these cohorts will result in smoother transitions for our new students.  

This new position will evolve as El Instituto evolves, but its responsibilities to graduate students will remain constant. I welcome the challenges and opportunities coming my way and will always be open to feedback and suggestions from members of the Instituto’s community. Consider my door open as we all work together to support and empower our graduate workers.