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Table of Contents 1

Mission, Vision, Commitments, Values


Message from the President


Who We Are


2016 - 2017 Executive Bios


What We’ve Accomplished


Social Events


Discounted Event Tickets


Professional Development Workshops


Mentorship GSA


Graduate Representative Council Initiatives


Campus Engagement


FGS & GSA Graduate Research Photo Competition


Mental Health Initiatives


Quality Money


Innovation Development Awards


Awards, Bursaries, & Grants

19 Advocacy 20

Government Consultations


New Websites


Peer Beyond Symposium


Mayoral Forum


Departmental Graduate Associations


Graduate Research Networks


Health & Dental Plan Changes


Awards Gala

29 Elections 30

Plans for the Future


2017 - 2018 Executive Goals

36 Financials 37

Statement of Financial Position


Statement of Operations


Statement of Changes in Net Assets


Statement of Cash Flows


Mission We provide a strong foundation for our members and community by offering valued services and programs that support and empower graduate students during and after their academic endeavours. We create an environment built on fiscal sustainability, social engagement, and effective representation.

Vision We will be a recognized leader in graduate student representation in Canada.

Commitments •

Resilience - to be organizationally sustainable by being fiscally accountable, environmentally responsible, and providing a strong foundation of effective governance;

Student Engagement - Using effective communication to engage our members and the wider community, to create awareness, to advocate to government, and to offer programs and services that contribute to overall student success; and

Organizational Learning - to continually seek and utilize the most effective ways to represent graduate students.

Values •

Communication - achieving goals through effective communication and teamwork;

Collaboration - determined for deeper understanding through co-operation;

Accountability - using transparency to create understanding;

Adaptability - continuous learning, improvements and assessments; and

Legacy - creating lasting memories.


Message from the President The 2016-2017 academic year was a big one. The University of Calgary celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) embarked on the first year of Peer Beyond, its three-year strategic plan. New awards were developed, bylaws were reviewed and revised, new policies were written, and a record number of events and social gatherings were held for the graduate student community. Overall, it was a very successful year, made possible by the active participation and contributions of all of you, our 6,100 members. The GSA works to empower graduate students to be successful on and off campus, during and after their degree. In this report, you will find a summary of our many activities and undertakings from the past year; a snapshot of how the GSA works for you. Of course, none of these activities would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our incredible volunteers: from members of our Senior Leadership Team to committee members, from orientation guides to GRC Representatives; our volunteers make the GSA, and the UCalgary graduate experience what it is. Thank you to everyone who contributed to our success! I have been both humbled and honoured to serve as President this past year, and leave it in the capable of hands of Brit Paris, the 2017-2018 GSA President and her incoming executive board. My team, Yangyang Fang, Adrianne Offenbecker, Arash Afshar, and Abubaker Abdelhafiz, were integral to the success of the organization and pushed it to become better each day: my sincere appreciation and gratitude to each of you for all your hard work. This has truly been a rewarding and insightful experience and I could not have made it through without you. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the incredible staff of the GSA. Without the staff, this organization would truly not be what it is today, nor continue along its upward trajectory. The UCalgary GSA is truly a top GSA in Canada and is only getting better. This is an exciting time to be involved and to be a graduate student at the University of Calgary. As you read through this report, I ask that each of you reflect upon how the GSA has impacted your life on campus and how it can impact your life, and you can impact it, in the coming year. Find a passion outside of your research and pursue it, get involved. You won’t regret your choice. All the best, Sam Hossack GSA President, 2016-2017

who we are


Sam Hossack

Abu Abdelhafiz

Yangyang Fang

Sam successfully defended her Masters of Strategic Studies, looking at the relationship between military intelligence and policy making. As President, Sam was responsible for the strategic direction of the GSA for the academic year. Sam represented the graduate student voice on several University level committees including the Board of Governors. In Sam’s two years at the GSA, “the organization grew so much over the past two years and has truly come together as a community.”

Abu is working towards his PhD in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus on fifth-generation wireless communication technologies. Abu was responsible for all things academic that impact graduate students as well as the awards, bursaries, and grants that the GSA offers. Abu resigned from the VP Academic position on February 10, 2017.

Yangyang is a PhD student studying in the department of Community Health Sciences, specializing in community rehabilitation and disability studies. As VP External, Yangyang advocated on behalf of UCalgary graduate students to all levels of government and served as chair of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (abGPAC). Yangyang’s most impactful experience in her position was the ability to bring graduate student interests and needs to the attention of senior University leadership and various ministers through the oversight of the External Relations Standing Committee and ab-GPAC.


VP Academic

VP External


Adrianne Offenbecker

Arash Afshar

Adrianne is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology with an interdisciplinary specialization in biological anthropology. Her doctoral research examines the relationship between violence, social status, and geography origins in prehistoric northwest Mexico. Adrianne oversaw non-academic matters of the student experience. Her portfolio included overseeing social events, Departmental Graduate Associations (DGAs), and the Graduate Representative Council (GRC). Adrianne’s favourite memory of the year was participating in the Calgary Pride Parade with the Dean, Associate Deans, and staff of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Arash successfully defended his PhD in the Department of Computer Science. Arash researched Secure Two Party Computations (2PC) with the aim of preserving privacy of users when they engage in online interactions. Arash was responsible for the oversight of the finances of the GSA and the Last Defence Lounge (LDL). He was also responsible for the Health and Dental plan offered by the GSA. Arash played an important role this year in the improvements in the Quality Money program, and the financial sustainability of the GSA and the LDL.

VP Student Life

VP Finance & Services

what we’ve accomplished


Social Events

This year, the GSA increased the number of events offered to our students and incorporated a more effective online payment system through our website. These factors have improved the student awareness and engagement about the GSA. The long-term goal and vision through these events are to create a community of support and knowledge within our student body. As a large percentage of our graduate student population are international students, the GSA hosted introductory workshops for students to explore new sports or skills that they may not have been exposed to in their home country. The GSA started with available on-campus workshops offered by the UCalgary’s Active Living and graduate students with expertise in a certain skill, then expanded our series to some winter activities in and around the city. The series was well-attended and of high demand.

Photo 1: Rafting trip in August 2016.Photo 2: Paint Party at Last Defence Lounge. Photo 3: Sunshine ski and snowboard trip. Photo 4: Rafting trip in August 2016. Photo 5: Holiday event at family housing. Photo 6: Halloween costume contest at Last Defence Lounge


The GSA put on a soccer tournament in November. The tournament was well received by our members, with 21 teams and 160 student participants. There were 15 student and staff volunteers from the GSA, International Student Services, and Residence and Family Housing. The tournament took place in the Jack Simpson Gym. The GSA hosted several field trips in and around Calgary to expose students to the variety of activities available to them while attending the University. Some of the most popular fields trips were the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival, a Sunshine ski and snowboard trip, and a trip to the Corn Maze Flash Light Night.

Weekly & Monthly Events •

Monday Trivia at the Last Defence Lounge

TGIF Trivia at Feasby Lounge

Yoga with the GSA at The Loft

Wine Wednesday at Last Defence Lounge

Paint Parties at the Last Defence Lounge and Feasby Lounge

Board Game Nights at Crownest Hall’s multi-purpose room

101 Series •

Climbing 101

Kickboxing 101

Knitting 101

Curling 101

Self-Defense 101

Personal Tax Returns 101

Skating 101

Clay Hand Building 101

Skiing/Snowboarding 101 •

Belly Dancing 101

Swimming 101

Photo 1: Soccer tournament. Photo 2: Scotch tasting at Last Defence Lounge. Photo 3: Belly Dancing 101


Residence & Family Housing Events Crownest Hall Welcome Event Family Housing Pumpkin Painting

Family Housing Ladies Tea Field of Crosses Tour

GSA & International Student Services

Holiday Potluck

Reverse Science Fair

Multidisciplinary Conference

Crowsnest Hall Halloween Party Family Housing Movie Night Graduate Resident Town Hall

And So Much More! Overcoming Writer’s Block Workshop

GradO Luncheons

Halloween Costume Contest

Volunteer Appreciation Night

Scotch Tasting

Take a Break: Chocolate Fountains

Take a Break: Pet Therapy

Pride Parade

Neon Light Trampoline Park Trip

Rafting Trip

GradFest 3.0 & 4.0

Events Coordinator In August 2016, the GSA developed and hired an Events Coordinator to improve the quality and number of engaging social events that GSA offers to graduate students. This position has made a huge impact on the GSA and its members. The Events Coordinator has enabled the GSA to offer more social events, improve existing events, and incorporate our events into the UCalgary’s Level Up program. Having a dedicated Events Coordinator also meant that we could collaborate with various units on campus more often and expand the events offered on other campuses, like Foothills. Finally, our capstone events, like the annual GSA Awards Gala, have become bigger and better with the addition of this new position.


Discounted Event Tickets The GSA offers a wide range of discounted tickets for our students to experience events around the city. These discounted tickets make it more affordable for students to discover the events happening in Calgary, as well as to experience the lifestyle in Canada, especially for international students and their families. The discounted tickets offered this year: •

Telus Spark Science Centre


Cineplex movies

Calgary Flames games

Beauty and the Beast at Storybook Theatre

Paper Bag Princess at Storybook Theatre

Teddy Bear Toss Hitmen game

The Nutcracker Ballet


Broadway shows

Sunshine Village

Corn Maze


Calgary International Film Festival


Throughout the year, we sold more than 1,200 discounted tickets to our events and events around the city. The total amount of student savings through ticket sales was $17,000.


Professional Development Workshops We facilitated 13 professional development workshops attended by 171 graduate students. The workshops conducted this year were:

Responding to the Job Posting Students learned how to build a resume tailored to specific job postings to increase the chance of obtaining an interview.

Understanding Canadian Business Culture and Hiring Staff Key points from this workshop were: the proper etiquette for communication; the driving force behind business; the process of hiring, including risks and costs; and identifying the characteristics of the ideal employee. As a major component in job seeking success is networking, students were instructed on the various opportunities there are to partner with others, both on and off campus.

Social Media and the Job Seeker: Tips and Strategies to Give You the Cutting Edge This workshop detailed social media best practices when looking for a job.

Informational Interviewing Students learned how informational interviews would allow them to: identify the kind of skill sets companies want in their field of interest; what kind of career options are available within a certain company or profession; and allow them to build them professional network in order to tap into the hidden job market.

Negotiating Your Dream Job This workshop explained the processes for negotiating a proposed job offer and then allowed the students to apply the knowledge through mock negotiating scenarios.


Mentorship GSA Mentorship GSA supports graduate students in their efforts to connect with the Calgary business community by pairing them with professionals who have experience in building successful careers and are willing and excited to share their experience and knowledge with possible future leaders of the world. It is a 6-month program where a student and mentor (a seasoned industry professional working in Calgary) meet to share information and build the student’s soft skills, such as effective written and verbal communication, awareness, problem-solving abilities, integrity, and leadership. The GSA Mentorship Program began as a pilot project in 2005 with the idea that providing graduate students the opportunity to pair with a professional within the community would increase employability at the end of their studies. We adapted Mentorship GSA from the GSA Mentorship Program, with an improved process and the inclusion of Insights Discovery, a behavioural analysis tool. Insights Discovery was implemented to ensure effective communication between students and mentors. Both the mentor and the student participate in Insights to improve communication through the program. 43 students participated in Mentorship GSA in 2016-2017, more than any other year of the Mentorship Program.


Graduate Representative Council Initiatives The students of the Graduate Representative Council (GRC) are an invaluable asset to the GSA. They provide perspective and feedback to the GSA Board that is integral to our effort to continually improve our services. The Graduate Representative Council Initiative (GRCI) committee was formed in May 2016 to integrate the ideas of the GRC for new initiatives. The two initiatives GRC approved in 2016-2017 were the creation of an online forum for graduate students and the development of a new award. The committee created the GRCI Award to recognize graduate students who created initiatives that brought value to the graduate student community. The online forum was launched in February 2017

Campus Engagement It is important that all members of the GSA know that they are valued regardless of their situation. The GSA strives to make a connection will all our members through tailored events and services and making sure these services are accessible and convenient. Hundreds of our members are located off of the main campus so we make sure to take our services to them whenever we can. In November, we held our first Graduate Representative Council meeting on the Foothills campus. 60 student representatives attended from 37 departments. Several of our social events, such as Trivia Nights and Pet Therapy, were offered both on the main campus and on the Foothills campus for the convenience of our members.



$1000 each


Faculty of Graduate Studies & Graduate Students Association Graduate Research Photo Competition Every year the GSA and the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) put on a contest in search of the best photos that represent the exceptional graduate student research happening at the University. The first-place winner receives $500, the second-place winner receives $300, and the third-place winner receives $100. There is also a people’s choice winner, who receives a $100 gift card to the UCalgary Bookstore. The winning photos are displayed in the FGS and GSA offices and the Last Defence Lounge.



Elena Favaro • Geography Brianna Houston • Anthropology



People’s Choice

Jatin Chatrath • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Emily MacPhail • Kinesiology


Mental Health Initiatives The GSA understands that grad school can be a time of pressure and stress. The demands of research, teaching, and deadlines can take a mental toll on students. The GSA emphasizes the importance of the wellbeing of our students by offering events and initiatives that promote good mental health. The GSA’s Mental Health and Wellness Committee hosted 11 events, workshops, and programs throughout the year. •

Survive and Thrive in Grad School Group ○○ A support group covering various themes such as stress management, self-care, motivation, goal setting, conflict management, managing the job search

The Graduate Student Experience: Equipping Yourself for Success ○○ An interactive workshop where students learned strategies for thesis writing and work/ life balance

Mindfulness for Grad Students ○○ A six-session workshop on mindfulness

Happiness Basics ○○ A four-session workshop where students learned skills to improve happiness

Mindfulness Workshop with the Wellness Centre

Photography Basics Workshop

Paint Parties ○○ Artist-lead painting events where students were given the materials and instruction for a painting

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

A sleep workshop hosted on the Foothills campus

Colouring at the LDL

Weekly Yoga Classes

Paint Party at Feasby Lounge


Quality Money The Quality Money Program is a partnership that the University of Calgary has had with the GSA and the Students’ Union since 2003. Funds are given to both student groups from the University to support projects and initiatives that enhance the student experience. These are a few of the projects that graduate students developed this year:

Graduate Student Cost-of-Living Calculator

The GSA’s Newcomers and International Students Committee developed a cost of living calculator to inform all graduate students, but primarily international students, on the expected costs of living in Calgary and attending the University

Fresh and Fast – A Creative Problem Solving Competition

A case competition of interdisciplinary teams worked together to answer the question, “how can Calgary based businesses cater to millennial customers and employees in a more effective manner?” The teams pitched and competed in front of an audience.

GSA Sustainability Awards and Workshop

The GSA’s Sustainability Committee developed and awarded two, $1000 awards to students whose projects focused on sustainable efforts. They also hosted two sustainability workshops: one that introduced sustainability in a broad range of areas and at various levels, and identified the impacts of a sustainable lifestyle, and another workshop that talked about how to identify sustainable research topics and how to gear sustainability to academic research.

Letters to Home

In an effort to alleviate the feeling of loneliness and isolation that international students can feel, the GSA’s Newcomers and International Students Committee developed the project, Letters to Home, which provided graduate students the supplies and shipping costs to send letters to loved ones all over the world.


[GSA]2 (GSA Gay-Straight Alliance) is a networking platform of LGBTQ graduate students and their straight allies.


The goal of #Researchinthepub was to improve the graduate student experience by supporting an empowering graduate students to disseminate their research to a non-specialist audience in order to develop skills in knowledge translation, communication, and presentation. In turn, the outside community was able to learn about research happening at the University of Calgary in a fun, engaging, understandable, and accessible way.


Innovation Development Awards The Innovation Development Awards were developed this year by the GSA with a major contribution from the GSA Awards Committee Co-Chair, Khobaib Zaamout. The Awards were created to provide financial resources and guidance to graduate students who are developing an innovative product or service. Recipients of the award receive funding from the GSA and work with a mentor from Innovate Calgary to help guide the winning teams in bringing their product or service to market. The applicants of the awards were evaluated by volunteers from Innovate Calgary and the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The GSA received a generous donation of $10,000 from the Office of the Vice-President (Research) to support the Innovation Development Awards. Enable, led by Suzanna Crawford from the Faculty of Nursing and Michael Purdy of the department of Biomedical Engineering, won the top prize of $10,000. Enable is a program that helps to match individuals with disabilities with postsecondary support workers. Rehable, led by Jacob George, Isaac Acosta, and Riley Booth of the department of Biomedical Engineering came in second place and received $7,000. Rehable is a project that developed portable robotic braces to assist in the recovery and rehabilitation of stroke patients. In third place, receiving $4,000 was BClean, led by Shahum Chadhry and Ziad Paracha of the Haskayne School of Business, Alexander Sheldon, Bryce Besler and David Garrett of the department of Electrical Engineering. BClean is a project that developed a wearable device and mobile app for health care professionals to help improve the compliance of hand hygiene. The Fan Favourite Award for the best presented pitch was given to Nanoparticle for Oil Sands Applications. The project team, led by Ghada Nafie, Gerardo Vitale, and Nashaat Nassar of the department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, has created a process for the removal of effluents in the oil sands through nanotechnology applications. Photo 1: University President, Elizabeth Cannon; Innovation Development Award winner, Suzanna Crawford; GSA President, Sam Hossack, Associate Vice-President (Research), Dr. Anne Katzenberg; Photo 2: Project Rehable, Riley Booth and University President, Elizabeth Cannon; Photo 3: Nanoparticle for Oil Sands Applications, Ghada Nafie; Photo 4: Project Clean Clip, Michael Beech and John Downey


Awards, Bursaries, & Grants A few of the ways in which the GSA financially supports its members are through awarding Academic Project Support Grants (formerly Professional Development Grants and Group Project Grants) and Individual and Family Bursaries. Academic Project Support Grants are awarded to students for projects that add value to their academic careers, or enhance the intellectual life of graduate students at the University of Calgary.


Fall: $24,858, 32 recipients

Winter: $25,307, 29 recipients

Total: $50,165

The Individual and Family Bursaries and awarded to students based on financial need.

Bursaries •

Fall: 26 applications (7 individual bursaries and 19 family bursaries) total of $44,000

Winter: 20 applications (10 individual bursaries and 10 family bursaries) total of $29,400

Alberta Graduate Citizenship Awards


awards given at

$2,000 Academic Project Support Grants


grants awarded totalling

$50,165 Bursaries


bursaries given totalling



Advocacy The Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (Ab-GPAC) is a student-led non-partisan organization that advocates to the provincial government on behalf of over 17,000 graduate students attending the four Comprehensive Academic and Research Institutions (CARIs) in Alberta: Athabasca University (AU), the University of Alberta (U of A), the University of Calgary (U of C), and the University of Lethbridge (U of L). The UCalgary GSA has played a key role in AbGPAC ever since its incorporation in March 2015, and has contributed significantly to its growth and success. This year, Yangyang Fang (GSA, VP External), Sam Hossack (GSA, President), and Claire Cao (External Relations Standing Committee, Chair) represented UCalgary on ab-GPAC. In 20162017, Ab-GPAC made significant strides on each of its strategic pillars of advocacy, relationships, operations, and reputation. Ab-GPAC actively participated in government consultations on the topics of labour relations, tuition and fees, funding model, academic credit transfers, tenant and landlord disputes, and the agencies, boards, and commissions review. Ab-GPAC submitted a provincial budget recommendation advocating for sustainable and predictable funding for graduate students, funding for campus mental health, and funding for professional development and innovation and entrepreneurial activities. Additionally, Ab-GPAC participated in a nationwide poll to improve immigration policies for international graduate students, and sent a public letter of support to students impacted by the Trump administration’s travel ban. Ab-GPAC underwent a comprehensive policy review, updated its bylaws, and developed its first ever election policy. Perhaps its biggest achievement in operational growth, however, was the successful hire of an Executive Director, Nicole Van Kuppeveld. To Increase visibility both among students and external stakeholders, Ab-GPAC made considerable branding efforts through business cards, branded materials, informational brochures, and establishing a social media presence (both through Facebook and Twitter). In addition, a website was launched (


Government Consultations Labour relations In August 2016, ab-GPAC received a discussion guide from the Government of Alberta on questions regarding labour legislation and the implementation of the right to strike for public sector employees. In response to the Government of Alberta’s consultation, ab-GPAC consulted with graduate students across the province through a survey that was sent out by all the GSAs of the four Comprehensive Academic Research Institutions (University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, and Athabasca University). At the University of Calgary, we also hosted an in-depth labour relations panel to discuss the potential implications of “the right to strike”. Based on students’ feedback, ab-GPAC compiled a 118page document outlining and substantiating the graduate students’ position, and submitted this to government on October 17, 2016. In this paper, which was largely supported by the universities and faculty associations, ab-GPAC recommended first and foremost that the legislation governing graduate student employment maintain its current form under the Post-Secondary Learning Act. Should changes be absolutely necessitated by federal law, it was recommended that: •

GSAs must remain the sole voice of and advocate for their constituents. They are best placed to reach out to and understand their fellow students, and best placed to bring concerns to university administrators.

Retain binding arbitration as the preferred dispute resolution mechanism.

Any major changes must be phased in over a reasonable time frame, taking into account the rapid turnover in GSA leadership each year. Four years, at a minimum, would be acceptable.

The subsequent changes in legislation (Bill 7) retained the GSAs exclusive right to collective bargaining for the next five years and allows for binding arbitration to remain as an option for dispute resolution.

Tuition and Fees In November 2016, following three years of tuition freeze, the Government of Alberta launched its first phase of public consultations on tuition and fees in public post-secondary institutions. In response to this, ab-GPAC submitted a position paper to government on December 15, 2016, based on the results collected through an in-depth survey sent to graduate students across the province. Phase 2 of the consultations took place between February and May 2017 over a series of 8 full-day meetings with government, student leaders, and senior academic staff, where each tuition and fee category was explored in depth.

Funding model The Government of Alberta launched its phase 1 consultation of the funding model review in late December 2016. The consultation was aimed at collecting stakeholder opinions on current government funding structures and practices. ab-GPAC submitted a position paper on February 3, 2017, in which the need for stable and predictable funding for graduate students was emphasized.


New Websites The GSA and the LDL launched redesigned, user-friendly websites in the fall (GSA in September, LDL in October) With a fresh design and an easy-to-navigate interface, the GSA was able to provide information to our members more effectively.

Peer Beyond Symposium The Peer Beyond Symposium was a Quality Money funded interdisciplinary conference hosted by the GSA’s Academic Standing Committee on February 22. The symposium gave 26 students the opportunity to orally present their research and 21 students to display their research through posters. Dr. Lisa Young, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies delivered the key note speech. Three professional development workshops were facilitated for attendees of the symposium: •

Alternative to the Lecture by Dr. Isabelle Barrette-Ng

Use of Advanced Technologies in Teaching by D’Arcy Norman

Formative Feedback: Giving and Receiving Feedback by the SAGES scholars

Participants in the Peer Beyond Symposium


Mayoral Forum On March 30, the GSA’s External Relations Standing Committee (ERSC) hosted mayoral candidates Shawn Baldwin, Andre Chabot, Paul Hughes, and David Lapp to answer student’s questions in preparation for the October 16, 2017 election. Naheed Nenshi, the city’s incumbent mayor, sent his regrets. The final day for nomination for the mayoral candidates is September 18.

External Relations Standing Committee and mayoral candidates

Calgarians will vote on the next mayor, councillors, and trustees for public and catholic school system during the election. The top issues concerning graduate students discussed at the event were accessible transportation and affordable housing.

Mayoral candidate, Shawn Baldwin, addresses graduate student questions

External Relations Committee member, Josh Malate; mayoral candidates, Paul Hughes, David Lapp, Andrew Chabot, Shawn Baldwin


Departmental Graduate Associations Departmental Graduate Associations (DGAs) are department or program specific Graduate Associations that the GSA relies on for graduate student feedback, and supports through operational and event funding. These were the 48 active DGAs of 2016-2017: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Departmental Graduate Association Biological Sciences Graduate Students’ Association Biomedical Engineering Graduate Students’ Association Biomedical Technology Graduate Students’ Association Cardiovascular Respiratory Students’ Association Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Graduate Students’ Association Chemistry Graduate Students’ Association Civil Engineering Graduate Society Classics & Religion Departmental Graduate Association Communication & Culture Graduate Students’ Association Community Health Sciences Student Executive Computer Science Graduate Society Council of Foothills Economics Graduate Association Electrical & Computer Engineering Graduate Students’ Association English Graduate Students’ Association Environmental Design Student Association Gastrointestinal Graduate Students’ Association Geography Graduate Students’ Association Geomatics Graduate Group German Studies Graduate Students’ Association Graduate Anthropology and Archaeology Student Association Graduate Association of Geoscience Students

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Graduate Engineering Students’ Consortium Graduate Music Society Graduate Programs in Education Students’ Association Graduate University of Calgary Mathematics Society Haskayne School (PhD) History Graduate Students Union Immunology Graduate Association Kinesiology Graduate Students’ Association Linguistics Graduate Students’ Association A Higher Clause Masters of Public Policy Students’ Association MBA Society Mechanical Engineering Graduate Students’ Association Medical Science Graduate Students’ Association Microbiology & Infectious Diseases Graduate Students’ Association Neuroscience Hotchkiss Brain Institute Trainee Organization Philosophy Graduate Students’ Association Physics & Astronomy Grad Students’ Association Political Science Graduate Students’ Association Psychology Graduate Students’ Association School of Creative and Performing Arts Graduate Society Sociology Graduate Students’ Caucus Strategic Studies Students’ Consortium Sustainable Energy Development Society Veterinary Medicine Grad Students Association Vox Condiscipulum


Graduate Research Networks

2016 DGA Holiday Food Drive

Graduate Research Networks (GRNs) are groups of students that join together out of a similar research interest. The GSA supports these groups through operational and event funding. These are the GRNs that made a difference through their research and collaborations in 2016-2017:


food items collected for the Campus Food Bank

$544.65 dollars donated

Chinese Scholarship Council Students and Scholars Association

Engineering Education Students’ Society

Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers Student Chapter

U of C Nanotechnology Group

United Network of Arts

The Urban Research Network

Calgary Optics and Photonics Student Society


Health & Dental Plan Changes With the collaboration of our Health and Dental Plan administrator, StudentCare, the GSA surveyed our students with year on their satisfaction with the Health and Dental Plan. 82% of the respondents would approve an increase in the Plan costs if the level of coverage stayed the same or increased.

no doctor referral required for psychologists

Respondents listed coverage for prescription drugs (97.6%) and vision care (94.2%) as the health benefits that were most important to them under the current Plan. Using the information received in the survey, the GSA made the following changes to the Plan. A doctor’s referral is no longer required for the coverage of psychologists. This increased the Plan by $14.33. The coverage for tooth scaling was reduced from 7 units to 4 units. This decreased the Plan by $16.48. The net of these two changes is a $2.15 decrease in the cost of the plan

tooth scaling reduced from 7 to 4 units

The cost of the Plan to the GSA was increased by 12% this year. The new cost of the plan for single students is $570.27 In April, approved at a Graduate Representative Council meeting, the Plan fee for students was increased by 10%. The new plan fee for single students is $566.78. The GSA covers the $3.49 difference from the GSA reserve fund.

increase in cost of plan

increase in fee for students the GSA covers the $3.49 difference


Awards Gala At the annual GSA Awards Gala, we honour graduate students and their supporters for their hard work and dedication to all aspects of the graduate student experience. At this year’s Gala, several new awards were introduced and presented in front of an audience of 270 students, staff, and faculty. The Mentorship Award honours mentors in the Mentorship GSA program who have excelled at providing guidance for their graduate student mentees. The Political Leadership Award was established to recognize a public official whose efforts and actions are targeted to issues facing graduate students at the University of Calgary. Graduate students who have completed or have continuous projects that improve quality of life through a combination of technological and scientific advances and sustainable development were recognized with the Sustainability Award. The GSA Champion award was created to show appreciation to those who have gone above and beyond to advance the GSA’s mission and vision of serving graduate students. The Newcomer Award (now Emerging Leader Award) was established to acknowledge newly-admitted students who have demonstrated outstanding academic and leadership potential and involvement in the university community. The following are the 2016 – 2017 award winners: Graduate Representative Council Distinguished Service Award Kiernan McClelland, Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies Stephanie Cantlay, Department of Sociology Mentorship Award Les Stehmeier, Senior Scientist at Nova Chemicals Political Leadership Award Ward Sutherland, City of Calgary Councillor for Ward 1 Sustainability Awards Luis Welbanks, Department of Physics and Astronomy Taylor Woo, Department of Biological Sciences Juan Pfeiffer, Haskayne School of Business (honourable mention) Kristin Skelton, Haskayne School of Business (honourable mention)

GSA Champion Award Debbie Bruckner, Senior Director of the Wellness Centre Lifetime Achievement Award Veronika Kiryanova, Department of Psychology Excellence in Administrative Support Award (Support Staff) Nathan Tremblay, Faculty of Environmental Design Marion Mildenberger, Cumming School of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program (honourable mention) Excellence in Administrative Support Award (Senior Administration) Tara Beattie, Cumming School of Medicine, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program


Research Assistant Excellence Award (Graduate Student) Etienne LaPierre, Department of Chemistry Research Excellence Award (Senior Researcher) Gerardo Vitale, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Excellence in Teaching Award (Graduate Student) Teeratorn Kadeethum, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Khobaib Zaamout, Department of Computer Science (honourable mention) Ramya Singh, Department of Biological Sciences (honourable mention)

Excellence in Supervision Award Amanda Melin, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology Deborah Kurrasch, Department of Medical Genetics (honourable mention) Paul Kubes, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (honourable mention)

Joshua Bourdage, Department of Psychology (honourable mention) Newcomer Award Rod Vafaei, Cumming School of Medicine, Biomedical Technology Program Leadership Award Veronika Kiryanova, Department of Psychology

Excellence in Teaching Award (Senior Instructor) Morteza Dejam, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Mentorship Award winner, Les Stehmeier

Sustainability Award winner, Luis Welbanks; Stephanie Bachewich and Eliana Elkhoury


GSA President, Sam Hossack; GSA Champion Award winner, Debbie Bruckner

Excellence in Administrative Support (Support Staff) winner, Nathan Tremblay

GSA Event Coordinator, Thao Nguyen; Volunteer Excellence Award winner, Katharine Jensen; Leadership Award winner, Veronika Kiryanova; Volunteer Excellence Award winner, Jennifer Mitchell; VP Student Life, Adrianne Offenbecker

Newcomer Award winner, Rod Vafaei

Political Leadership Award Winner, Ward Sutherland


Elections On February 21, nominations closed in the GSA elections for their Board of Directors. The positions of President, VP External, VP Student Life, and VP Finance and Services were acclaimed The position of Vice President Academic was contested between Negar Mohammadi of the Department of Neuroscience and Yan Xiang of the Department of Geomatics Engineering. Graduate students voted via D2L over March 13 and 14. 455 students voted in the election – approximately 7.5% of the graduate student population. Negar Mohammadi was elected Vice President Academic

President: Brit Paris of the Department of Educational Research Vice President Academic: Negar Mohammadi of the Department of Neuroscience Vice President External: Willem Klumpenhouwer of the Department of Civil Engineering Vice President Student Life: Taha Afyouni of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Vice President Finance and Services: Christiana Manzocco of the Haskayne School of Business

From the left: Taha Afyouni, Willem Klumpenhouwer, Brit Paris, Negar Mohammadi, Christiana Manzocco

plans for the future


Brit Paris • President As the 2017-2018 GSA President, I can truly say that I am standing on the shoulders of giants. Tremendous work has been done in establishing the University of Calgary Graduate Students’ Association as a leader in graduate student representation in Canada. My vision for the future of the GSA is for it to be the hub of an interconnected graduate student community. To reach this vision, we must continue to develop in partnership with our 6,000 members. My goals for 2017-2018 revolve around community, communication, and collaboration. Community: A strong campus culture is built upon a strong student community. This year I will work to strengthen the relationship between Departmental Graduate Associations (DGAs) and the GSA, ensuring that DGAs have strong governance structures in place and the supports they need to be effective in their own goals. Secondly, I will engage the members of the Graduate Representative Council (GRC) in meaningful ways that build cross-disciplinary community, and collaborate with the University to ensure these communities have spaces to gather. Communication: This year the GSA is working to implement a communications plan which will develop strong two-way communications between the GSA and all of its members. This is particularly important for the Collective Agreement for Research, Teaching, and Non-Teaching Graduate Assistants as graduate students need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities in order to be empowered self-advocates. Collaboration: To achieve our vision for the GSA, it is important that we have strong relationships across campus, Alberta, and Canada. On campus, I will develop strong collaborative relationships with the university administration, faculty and staff, and with the Students’ Union. Across Alberta we have already made significant gains in collaboration with other GSAs through the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (AbGPAC). This year I will work to develop these relationships with GSAs across the country. I am excited by the challenges ahead and look forward to working with our graduate student community to achieve our aims!


Negar Mohammdi • VP Academic As the 2017-2018 GSA VP Academic, my vision is to continue to develop Academic Strategic Plans aligned with the Eyes High Strategic directions. My goal is to serve the UCalgary graduate students in their academic matters, support their ideas, and provide them with opportunities to find their future academic plans. To achieve these, I will be focusing on transparency, communication, and collaboration. Transparency: I will be increasing the transparency of the awards’ selection criteria and evaluation procedures. The Awards Committee provides bursaries, supports innovations, and recognizes students who serve other graduate students or their community. It is essential that graduate students remain fully aware of the application and selection procedures. I would love to improve the structure of the Awards Committee so that it will be widely recognized as a reliable committee that equitably acknowledges achievements among the UCalgary graduate students. We have started updating the awards calendar and Terms of References, and we are actively working with partners on campus to help us improve the evaluation procedures. Communication: I believe that consistent communication with the graduate students provide us with valuable information on how to improve on the GSA’s ability to provide academic resources. I plan to spend time and energy to get students feedback on our performances and find the greatest ways to ensure our members success in academic matters. Collaboration: I aim to empower our members by actively collaborating with Faculties of Graduate Studies Dean and Vice-provost Academic to offer new academic development resources, encourage student participation in conferences, and support student projects and research initiatives. I will be advocating on behalf of the UCalgary graduate students rights in processes such as appeals, complaints, and decanal reviews. I hope to continue to improve GSA as an academic organization to which our ~6000 members can all be proud to belong.


Willem Klumpenhouwer • VP External As the 2017-2018 GSA VP External, I plan to focus on strengthening our relationship with the Government of Alberta, and establishing a working relationship with the City of Calgary for the benefit of our graduate students. Municipally, along with the External Relations Standing Committee, I plan to reach out to city government and position the GSA as a stakeholder in civic projects that affect key issues for graduate students such as affordable housing and public transit. In addition to advocacy work, I plan to inform our members about the issues at city hall that affect them and work to improve the flow of information between graduate students, city administrators, and politicians. This includes connecting the city with research and community outreach work being done at the university, and providing students a means of participating in, and learning about, decisions made about the future of our city. Provincially, as Chair of the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC), I hope to continue the professionalization of the council and the work being done to provide valuable feedback to the Government of Alberta on key issues for graduate students. From an internal focus, this includes the creation of policies and a sustainable financial model that will ensure ab-GPAC is able to advocate on behalf of students for years to come. Consultation work with the government will include issues surrounding Bill 7, feedback on the roles and mandates of universities, and any other consultation process that may arise. The year ahead is going to be an exciting one. I look forward to serving the members of the GSA by connecting graduate student issues with the community, and connecting the community with the lives of graduate students.


Taha Afyouni • VP Student Life As the 2017-2018 GSA VP Student Life, my vision for this year is to enhance the graduate student experience and foster a strong graduate community at the University of Calgary. To realize this vision, my focus this year will be on student engagement, communication, and advocacy. Student Engagement: Whether it’s through social events, workshops, or elections, increasing graduate student engagement with the GSA is very important to me. Firstly, with the help of the Events Coordinator, I will evaluate what is currently being offered by the GSA and introduce new initiatives to ensure that we are providing our members with meaningful events and services. Secondly, I will work on increasing participation in GSA elections by planning informational events, advertising more effectively, and conducting a focus group to obtain feedback. Thirdly, I will partner with the executive board to work on implementing GSA clubs since that would provide graduate students with an additional way to get involved. And most importantly, I want to ensure that we are doing our best to engage all our members, not only the graduate students on main campus, but also those on the Foothills, Spy Hill, and Downton campuses. Communication: I believe that effective two-way communication is essential for an organization to excel. Therefore, I will work on using the tools at our disposal, such as social media and the weekly newsletter, to inform our members about GSA events and services in a more effective way. I will also focus on getting constructive feedback from our members whenever possible to ensure that the GSA is providing them with activities that enhance their student experience and personal development Advocacy: Through GSA and University of Calgary committees, I will focus on addressing some non-academic concerns facing both domestic and international graduate students, such as mental health & wellness, sexual violence, and inclusivity on campus. In addition, a new committee will be established this year, the GSA Gay-Straight Alliance ([GSA]2) Committee, which will advocate on behalf of the graduate LGBTQA+ community.


Christiana Manzocco • VP Finance & Services As the 2017-2018 GSA VP Finance and Services, I am excited about what we will achieve as an Executive Board from the perspective of financial management and achieving long-term sustainability for the GSA. I am passionate about continuing the good work our outgoing Board has done, and pushing that momentum forward; particularly with projects like Quality Money, the Emergency Bursary Program, the Health and Dental plan, GSA Collective Agreement, and supporting good management practices at the LDL which will be my major areas of focus. I will also focus on the GSA’s finances, and liaise with auditors to ensure the financial future of the GSA is strong, transparent, and governed by industry best practices. Building awareness for funding mechanisms available through the GSA and our collective agreement is very important to me, especially with respect to the emergency bursary funds for students in need – I plan to create a better collective understanding of the support this program can provide among graduate students. The year holds many exciting changes with respect to contract negotiation and renewal: In negotiating our GSA Collective Agreement I will partner with board members and legal professionals to ensure our Collective Agreement is forwardlooking and built on a foundation of advocacy and student rights with respect to striking and strike-pay. Furthermore, I will examine our current Health and Dental insurance plan and benchmark service offerings among insurance providers. I am truly passionate about the Quality Money program, and I look forward to selecting and supporting innovative projects that will improve and enrich the lives of graduate students and elevate the profile of our graduate student population. I am honoured to be VPFS on the GSA Executive Board, and I look forward to bringing my excitement, my business experience and my University-specific knowledge to the role of VP Finance and Services.



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Revenues Graduate Students’ Centre Lounge Graduate Students’ Association

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2017 $2,817,422

2016 $2,535,178


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Graphic credits money - kirby wu, noun project book - Viktor Vorobyev, noun project award - Mello, noun project doctor - Adrien Coquet, noun project tooth - елизавета екимова, noun project tin can - Creaticca Creative Agency, noun project

Profile for Graduate Students' Association

2016 - 2017 GSA Annual Report  

2016 - 2017 GSA Annual Report  


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