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Bad news: MAE lost another great Grad adviser

by Jason Moore — last modified Jun 03, 2011 07:06 PM

We were just notified that Laura Young will be leaving us after a short year. She was a great find and I'm disappointed that we couldn't retain her.

The department was just notified that Laura Young will be moving to the Office of Graduate Studies. Here is the quote from Dr. Delplanque:
Dear faculty and students of the Graduate Program in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering:
With mixed emotions, we are sharing the news that Laura has accepted a Student Affairs Officer position in the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS), Graduate Admissions and Academic Services primarily for the biological and health sciences programs.
Of course, we are happy and excited for Laura since this is a promotion and a great opportunity for her that will help her fulfill her long-term career goals.
But we will miss Laura tremendously as she had a genuinely positive impact on our program. She has been a wonderful asset, effectively managing and coordinating our graduate program as well as advocating for our students for the past year. 
Laura's last day in MAE is June 10 (Friday), so please send Laura your well wishes when you have a moment. 
Jean-Pierre Delplanque, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice-Chair for Graduate Studies 
Faculty Adviser for Graduate Students
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

I'm surely happy for Laura and the opportunity for her to move up in her career, but I'm also a bit upset that our department can't retain quality staff like Laura. Laura has been phenomenal and was really on the path to help our department's interaction with graduate students improve by leaps. Laura has been here for one year after the previous year when we had no graduate student adviser in our department. Two years ago, Amelia Sweringen, also left the same position for a better position in the University. We've lost two great grad student advisers now in a very short time span and now we have to suffer through another year of not having this unbelievably valuable resource (not to mention the decrease is staff in general). I am very disappointed that the department is not able to recruit and retain quality staff like Laura and Amelia. It seems ridiculous that we have to compete with other departments and offices within UC Davis for staff. If she left for a better salary or benefits, it begs the question why these wouldn't be uniform and consistent department to department. This is very similar to the fact that GSR's are paid different amounts in different departments (before about 2 years ago the MAE had the lowest GSR salaries on campus: Level 1 for all graduate students no matter their status). We shouldn't have to worry about losing staff to other departments for similar positions on a monetary basis.

I hope that the department will quickly get a plan together to hire a quality replacement in a very short time. We should definitively have a new adviser that is paid competitively and is planning to hang with us for a good while before the fall quarter starts. I really feel bad for the new grad students that were without an adviser when Amelia left and then new ones coming in this Fall. I can't express how much Amelia helped me in my first years at grad school here and how both Amelia and Laura continued to help throughout my career here. They are also one of the few people in the department that brings some kind of social atmosphere to our often socially inept group by organizing mixers and social events. Laura seems to be especially great at this and I think she would have really helped turn our department around.

I'm not sure what the department's hiring process is, but I know I can round up some senior grad students that would be willing to help recruit and select a good adviser for this now vacant position. We have a vested interest in having someone like Laura in the department. 
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