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Congratulations to Mike Walsh

Mike Walsh, a PhD student in Biological & Environmental Engineering has been elected Cornell's newest student trustee.

A pioneer in establishing the Graduate Community Initiative, a plan to better address graduate students’ needs, Mike Walsh grad was elected student trustee on Saturday. He is the first graduate student officially elected to the graduate seat on the Board of Trustees, after the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and Student Assembly delegated one trustee position to undergraduate students, and the other to grad students last year.

Walsh said some of the key issues he will address are building a cohesive community amongst graduate students, housing, transportation and sustainability. However, he explained, one of the biggest challenges in implementing these goals lies in Cornell’s administrative structure.

“Navigating the Cornell bureaucracy will be difficult,” he said.

A quick read of Mike's biography indicates that he is a quintessential Cornellian:

At Colby, Michael was a three season athlete in cross country and track, specializing in the distance events and the steeplechase. He studied environmental chemistry and did research on summer eutrophication of Maine's lakes. He graduated in 2005 with Honors in Chemistry.

After graduating Mike worked as a teaching intern at Saint Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program, a summer school for the top rising seniors in New Hampshire. He assisted in teaching a course on ecology that took the students on an overnight canoe trip down the Merrimack river.

Currently Mike is studying for the Ph.D. in Biological & Environmental Engineering. He researches marine algae that play a substantial role in the global carbon cycle and climate. He hopes to become a professor at a small liberal arts college and research local and regional environmental problems.

But it appears that he also had the chance to become a Cornellian as an undergraduate:

After three semesters at UNH he decided to transfer for a more challenging academic program. The decision to transfer was a difficult one, especially when he received acceptance letters from Cornell and Colby College. Both schools offered tempting opportunities, however the financial aid offerings made it clear, Colby's aid package was much more competitive than Cornell's, and Red would have to wait for grad school.

Would it not have been nice if Mike could have made his transfer decision without having to take financial aid into consideration? Perhaps Mike will be able vocalize his experiences to his fellow trustees.

Mike also knows how to foster support -- by supporting the Big Red teams himself:

Unfortunately, the election was not without controversy:

However, Walsh’s victory may be short lived. Runner up Shawn Kong, grad, and a Sun columnist, told The Sun he planned to challenge Walsh’s win to the University Ombudsman...

Of course, one doesn't have to be a trustee to facilitate meaningful change on campus, so hopefully Shawn will find a productive use for his energies.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on April 23, 2008 (#)

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