A Conversation with Leslie Kolodziejski, EECS Graduate Officer

Leslie wearing her medallion from the Marion and Capers McDonald Award for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring

Leslie wearing the medallion awarded to her in 2009 for the Marion and Capers McDonald Award for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring.

Q. You became Graduate Officer in the EECS Department in November, 2010. What are your particular hopes as you take on this role?

Leslie Kolodziejski: “Concerning the EECS Graduate Office and the role as the EECS Graduate Officer, I am still learning about the many “hats” that the Graduate Officer enjoys wearing. The Graduate Officer is responsible for the admissions process for each new incoming class of graduate students, oversees the EECS graduate program for both the Master’s degree and the PhD degree, and, importantly, monitors and supports the progress of each graduate student from the time that a person enters the program until their graduation.

Additionally, we all realize that the graduate experience for each student is unique, has twists and turns, ups and downs, occasionally conflict and, seemingly, dead ends. The Graduate Officer is an excellent resource for each graduate student in a variety of ways including: (1) a sounding board to help uncover possible options and new opportunities, (2) a supporter to help achieve goals and career objectives, (3) a mediator in situations that involve conflict or misunderstandings, (4) a source of knowledge, particularly regarding resources in EECS or, more broadly, at MIT, and (5) is a “senior” person who has years of experience to share and knowledge to provide, or perhaps can offer a different perspective.

As Graduate Officer, I hope to bring to the job my understanding of what is involved in leading initiatives, most importantly clear communication and patient listening and creative solutions, so that new initiatives in the graduate program can be considered, and so that new initiatives created by our graduate students and faculty can be advanced. As Graduate Officer, I will strive to communicate clearly with all parties, and work toward the win-win scenario having an understanding of the issues that the faculty face, and having compassion and genuine care when trying to understand the issues that the student is facing. As Graduate Officer, I will seek to be honest, objective and fair, thoughtful and caring. The challenge of the Graduate Officer is the abundance of communications that come and go including emails, telephone calls, meeting requests, mailings, speaking engagements, and the organization and supervision of meetings (faculty and student). My attempt to be prompt and timely in all of these different forms of communication is especially difficult, and I ask for understanding if an urgent reply is needed but not forthcoming, or if a second request must be made, or if the phone call is unanswered. Hopefully, I will find an organization scheme to enable me to handle all of these different requests and needs as quickly, and as carefully, as possible.”

Leslie prepares to throttle back the ‘fire hose’! (Tip: life at MIT is commonly referred to as 'drinking from a fire hose!')

Leslie prepares to throttle back the ‘fire hose’! (Tip: life at MIT is commonly referred to as 'drinking from a fire hose!')

Q. Is there anything you would like to ask from the graduate students as you begin your new job?

Leslie Kolodziejski: “Yes! I want to ask the graduate students to consider me a resource and an advocate for them. So, if they need anything, I invite them to swing by the grad office, or send me an email, or even call the office (617-253-7327). I will do my best to reply promptly, but if I don’t, try again, and I hope I will have their patience and understanding. Just as important, I want the graduate students to offer feedback about the graduate program, the graduate experience, the EECS department, and the workings of the graduate office. We welcome input so that we can do things better. Also, if a graduate student or student group has an idea or initiative that they would like to launch, please consider me and the graduate office as a support group. I sincerely look forward to getting to know all of our EECS graduate students!”

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