Students are top priority for administrator

Kelly Hildebrandt

It’s a girl!
The shiny silver balloon brightens the still bare walls and empty desk of Edward Schiappa’s new office. While balloons aren’t typical decorations for University administrators’ offices, Schiappa, recently appointed as associate dean of the Graduate School, just became the father of a new baby girl.
If January is indicative of the entire year, Schiappa is in for a ride. Schiappa, an associate professor in the Department of Speech-Communication was promoted to associate dean of the Graduate School earlier this month in addition to the birth of his daughter on Thursday.
As associate dean, Schiappa will work with graduate student service programs and head a project to revamp the graduate student program evaluations, said Christine Maziar, dean of the Graduate School and vice president for research.
“I really hope to make life a little simpler for graduate students,” Schiappa said.

Scholar administrator
During the debate on the new Twins stadium Schiappa became the unofficial local expert after receiving numerous phone calls from reporters asking why Minnesotans were opposed to the stadium.
“I kept ending the interviews by saying, ‘That would make a really good research project,’ so I finally decided to do it,” he said.
Next, Schiappa will venture into the world of Gov. Jesse Ventura. Schiappa wants to analyze Ventura’s campaign and decide what should and should not be considered lessons from it. Some people are overreacting to Ventura’s win and think the entire two-party system needs to be re-done, Schiappa said.
“I think that attaches too much significance to his campaign,” he said.
In the speech-communications department, collaborating with students isn’t common but Schiappa does it often.
“He goes out of his way to work with students,” said Donald Browne, chairman of speech-communications, about Schiappa’s research projects.
It’s good experience for the graduate students and gives them a chance to get into publications, Schiappa said. He added that with his busy schedule he couldn’t do as much research without help.
Julie MacTaggart, a graduate student on the team studying the Twins stadium issue will continue to work with Schiappa on the Ventura study.
“He’s a wonderful person to work with,” MacTaggart said, because he works with people and has a democratic way of doing things.
MacTaggart said she thinks Schiappa will be a good associate dean because he’s a strong advocate for the students.

From Wildcat to Gopher
The noted expert in ancient and contemporary rhetoric began his education at Kansas State University. He chose the field because of his participation on the speech team. He received his graduate degree from Northwestern University.
Schiappa’s experience working with graduate students began at Purdue University, where he was director of graduate students in the speech-communications department. When he came to the University in 1995, he retained the position.
One of the reasons he chose the University was its high quality of teachers and students. Schiappa said the speech-communications program was recently rated one of the top three programs in the country.
“I was very impressed with Ed’s academic credentials and his creativity,” Maziar said.
Joshua Gunn, a graduate student in speech-communications, said Schiappa has given him advice on a number of occasions, including his thesis paper and how to write a rÇsumÇ and create a teaching portfolio.
Schiappa said he strives to have a graduate student-oriented perspective.
“When we talk about policies my first impulse is to think, ‘OK, if I were a graduate student how would I react to this?'” he said.
Students in speech-communications needn’t worry though. Schiappa has a split appointment, which means he will spend half of his time as professor and the other half as associate dean, except in the summer when he will be associate dean full time, Browne said.
“He’s really down to earth,” said Gunn, adding that it’s easy for well-known professors to get a big ego but Schiappa hasn’t.