Welcome Letter for New Graduate Students, Fall 2012
Welcome Letter for New Graduate Students, Fall 2012
I am pleased to welcome you to graduate study in the Department of Mathematics at West Virginia University. I am the Department’s Graduate Director, and I am writing to provide you with some information on the upcoming fall semester and pre-semester activities. Please familiarize yourself with the information below, the Department’s Graduate Handbook, and the linked information. Classes begin on Monday, August 20. In the week preceding the start of classes, from August 13 to August 17, the Department and the University will be having some activities for new graduate students. There are different items to be aware of, depending on whether or not you are a graduate assistant, an international student, or an M.S./Ph.D. student. A table at the bottom summarizes the information.
Some essential activities are as follows: For all new graduate students, the Mathematics Department will have its graduate student orientation activities beginning on Wednesday, August 17. Graduate Teaching Assistants must attend a University workshop on Monday, August 13, from 8:00-3:00. New M.S. students will take the Basic Exam on Friday, August 17. This exam is used for course placement and program recommendations as explained further below. More information is provided on these items below.
A Departmental orientation session will take place on Wednesday morning, August 15. Coffee and other refreshments will be available in the Math Dept Lounge in Room 310 Armstrong Hall from 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM. The program will begin at 10:00 AM across the hall in room 315 Armstrong Hall. Among the sessions/activities will be the following:
- Meeting Department administration and staff
- Overview of graduate program requirements and faculty research interests
- Discussion of course offerings
- Computer accounts
- Tour of building & facilities
- Meeting with your advisor (usually me initially) & registering for courses
New Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to attend the University’s Graduate Teaching Assistant Workshop, from 8:00 AM -3:00 PM on Monday, August 13. It will be held in Ming Hsieh Hall, Room G20, up College Avenue from the Mountainlair. There is also a special orientation for international students that are GTA’s that will take place on August 8-9, with the opportunity to take the SPEAK test (test of spoken English) on August 10. This orientation is not required, but if you are a new international GTA and are here at that time, we encourage you to attend. The Department's GTA Coordinator is Professor Jessica Deshler, from whom you will receive more details. Dr. Deshler coordinates GTA orientation, training, assignments, and supervision. GTA’s will be attending sessions that will orient them to the different assignments you may have during the semester. Most of these will not occur until classes begin. There are a variety of duties to which you may be assigned, such as assisting in a class by grading papers and maintaining grades, working with undergraduate students in the IML instructional computer labs, working as an assistant instructor in the calculus sequence, running your own calculus recitations, and teaching your own course. Your assignment depends on Departmental needs and your own background and experience. More information about this will be available at orientation. Please note that all GTA's must register each semester for one credit hour of Math 590 Teaching Practicum. If you do not have an assistantship but are interested in part-time work in the IML labs, see below.
Graduate Assistants will receive office space, as assigned by Department staff. We will try to find office space for students that are not graduate assistants, although with our increased enrollments, space is getting short. Mailboxes should be available for all students. Graduate Assistants and Ph.D. students may use Department copiers for work or research-related copying.
New M.S. students will take the Basic Exam in Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra on Friday, from 10:00-12:00 in Room 315 Armstrong. There is also a take-home part, due back on Tuesday, August 21 and an individually-scheduled oral part on Thursday or Friday may be given in rare cases. The exam is designed to furnish us with an idea of your background in advanced calculus and in linear algebra. Based on the results of the exam, we may require and/or advise you to include certain prerequisite courses as part of your program, such as Math 451 (undergraduate advanced calculus), or Math 343 (the undergraduate linear algebra course). Information on the basic exam and topics covered is available on the department web site.
All students are encouraged to register for the fall semester during the summer. This is particularly important for GTA’s, as your assignment has to be chosen so as not to conflict with your class schedule. Registration is done over the internet through the “STAR” system. You may want to contact me first for recommendations. You can access the system directly, or through your WVU student portal. For direct access, go to the address http://star.wvu.edu . Click “Star Access”. You can find information about courses by following the link “Schedule of Courses”. When you are ready to register, use the link “STAR Information System Login”. Information on how to log in is posted – you will need your WVU Mix user name. You can also access STAR through the Mix system, http://www.mix.wvu.edu. Feel free to correspond with any of the professors by email during the summer for information about courses. Full time enrollment is 9 credit hours (three courses) and is mandatory for Graduate Assistants and is usually a condition for international student visas. Some additional one-credit seminar-type enrollments are sometimes also required, notably Math 590 Teaching Practicum, which is required for teaching assistants, and Math 696 Graduate Seminar, required primarily for Ph.D. students. An email directory of faculty is available from the main department web page. I will be posting descriptions of our course offerings in the fall. Changes to your course schedule can be made after you arrive in Morgantown. Schedule changes can be made up until the end of the first week of classes, but it is very difficult to make any changes after that. Graduate Assistants receive a full tuition waiver; however student fees currently amounting to about $600 per semester cannot be waived. You do not have to pay your fees immediately upon registration – the deadline is the Friday or Saturday before classes begin.
All students should fill out an application for a Departmental computer account. In particular, we will need a current email address, which can be your departmental email address, or some other permanent email address, such as through gmail or hotmail. Most general communications are done using email lists and it is important that your email address be on that list. The Department's computer administrator is Rick Holsberry in Room 311 Armstrong. He can assist you with problems involving your computer account, email, and your office computer.
For new international students, the University will have its International Student Orientation for graduate students on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday in the Gluck Theater of the Mountainlair student union. All international students are expected to attend, receiving information regarding their visa status, INS rules and regulations, and information pertaining to living in the U.S. However, where schedules conflict, please attend our Departmental Orientation on Wednesday morning, as noted above.
SPEAK Test: Any graduate teaching assistant (GTA) whose native language is not English and who has not taken the Test of Spoken English (TSE) with a score of 50 or higher is required to take the SPEAK Test at WVU, given on multiple occasions the week before classes. It is also recommended for any other international students who may teach or work with undergraduate students at some point, as a passing score is needed for those duties. GTA’s who do not pass the SPEAK test will be required to take English classes as recommended based on the results, and their duties, as assigned by the Department, will not involve working directly with students. Information about this test will be available at the international student orientation; you can make an appointment for the test by sending email to Karen Allen, SPEAK Test Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Identify yourself as a graduate student in Mathematics; our Department will pay the fee for the exam.
Important employment note: All students who are graduate assistants or are otherwise to be paid through the University as of August 16 need to start employment enrollment no later than August 9 in order to be paid starting August 16. International students will need to supply the documents necessary for certifying your eligibility for employment. Everyone also needs a social security card in order to be processed for employment. Please see Ms. Joann Mayhew in the Mathematics Department Office 320 Armstrong as soon as possible after you arrive in Morgantown.
Health insurance: Graduate Assistants (either teaching or research) are provided with a hospitalization and limited illness insurance plan at no extra cost (the link is to this year's plan). Graduate Assistants are automatically enrolled in this plan (unless you submit a waiver if you prefer your own insurance). Other students may purchase this insurance. In particular International Students are required to have health insurance, and they will be automatically enrolled in this plan (at their own cost if not Graduate Assistants) unless they submit an appropriate waiver. This plan is supplemental to benefits covered by the Student Health fee, which must still be paid by students, including GA’s.
For students who are not graduate assistants, the Department does have a limited number of part-time positions in a number of capacities, including assisting students at the Institute for Mathematics Learning Computer Laboratory. The number, and nature, of such positions depends on needs, scheduling, and available funding, and is generally not determined until near the beginning of the semester, or shortly thereafter. If you are interested in being considered for such positions as may arise, send an email with your course schedule to Betsy Kuhn, the Lab Manager, at email@example.com. Identify yourself as a Mathematics graduate student.
Here is a schedule listing various activities taking place the week before classes. The list is not necessarily exhaustive.
|GTA Workshop||Mon 8/13 8AM-3PM||Ming-Hsieh Hall||All new GTA’s|
|International Student Orientation||Tues, Wed, 8/14-8/15||Gluck Theater, Mountainlair||International students|
|Employment processing||Aug. 9 or sooner||320 Armstrong (Arm)||Graduate assistants|
|Departmental Orientation||Wednesday, 8/15 9:30-11 AM||315 Arm (Coffee in 310 Arm)||All new graduate students|
|SPEAK Test||Midweek (by appt)||134 Eiesland Hall||International GTA’s|
|Office & mailbox assignments||All week||320 Armstrong||New GA’s|
|Computer accounts||All week||320 Armstrong||All new grad students|
|Basic Exam||Friday, 10AM-12PM||315 Armstrong||New M.S. students|
The following web sites can further provide information on WVU and the Math Department.
- Main WVU web site: http://www.wvu.edu/
- Admissions and Records web site: http://www.arc.wvu.edu
- Student life: http://www.wvu.edu/~studlife/ (various information, including off-campus housing)
- General University graduate policies and information: http://grad.wvu.edu/ (general information on University policies and opportunities for graduate students)
- Main Math Dept web site: http://www.math.wvu.edu/
- Direct link to STAR system (for web registration): http://star.wvu.edu
- Information on graduate program for current students: http://www.math.wvu.edu/current_graduate
If you need further information, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, by e-mail, phone or letter. I look forward to seeing you in the fall, if not sooner.Harvey Diamond