Attendees enjoy first grad student Welcome Week

The Council of Graduate Students plans to organize the weeklong events next year.

Sarah Connor

Mallory Mitchell recently moved from southern Alabama to begin her graduate studies as a public policy student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

For Mitchell, the events put on last week by the University of Minnesota’s Council of Graduate Students to welcome first-year professional and graduate students to campus have helped her feel more comfortable on campus — a goal COGS members hoped to achieve with the group’s first Welcome Week for post-undergraduate students.

“This is a totally different region for me and a different culture altogether,” Mitchell said. “It’s been good to see the campus, to meet people and just get acquainted with the area.”

The past week’s events, which COGS organized, ranged from a visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to a tour of breweries in northeast Minneapolis.

About 2,000 graduate students also took advantage of free tickets to the first Gophers football game and a free concert at Northrop Auditorium featuring Haley Bonar and John Mark Nelson, said COGS President Andrew McNally, who helped kick-start the Welcome Week.

With a successful first run, McNally said COGS plans to continue the week for new graduate students next year.

“For the arboretum trip, we got over 90 percent [of students] saying they were very satisfied with it, and everyone said that the brewery tour was just awesome,” McNally said. “They were having so much fun.”

COGS received about $2,000 in grants from the Graduate School to sponsor the events, McNally said, but next year the group is hoping to receive more financial support from the University.

“We hope that [the Graduate School] will support us even more,” he said. “We got a great turnout this year, and we could do a lot more with more support.”

Roberto de Freitas, COGS’ vice president of internal relations, said it would be beneficial to receive more financial help from the school, but he isn’t sure if the school will offer more backing next year.

Though the Graduate School didn’t officially sponsor the Welcome Week, faculty members and administrators showed their support for the initiative, de Freitas said, noting that former Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Sally Kohlstedt came to the brewery tour to meet the new students.

James Piper, a first-year biology graduate student, said he attended another college for his undergraduate studies, so the Welcome Week for graduate and professional students was a “nice touch” that helped him get acquainted with the University and other students.

“It’s beneficial when you’re coming in and you’re a little bit overwhelmed,” he said. “It’s just nice to have some fun events to do.”