Graduate Positions

Graduate Student Representative (G.S.R.)


  • The G.S.R. is charged with the responsibility of relaying any questions or concerns graduate stadents may have to the faculty and/or Dept. Chair.
  • The G.S.R. attends faculty meetings and reports any important developments to his/her fellow graduate students. This is usually accomplished via e-mail.
  • The G.S.R. calls meetings of the graduate student body as needed. During such meetings the year’s/semester’s positions are filled, and group business is discussed and voted upon.
  • The G.S.R. should make a reasonable attempt to remain informed of each position’s progress. Most important in this regard is the Graduate Student Conference.
  • The G.S.R. should provide graduate students with at least one “General Update” (per e-mail) each semster. Typically this e-mail is sent at the beginning of the semester, and serves to orient the graduate student body as a whole.
  • The G.S.R. is responsible for keeping the group’s listserv up to date. Additionally, he/she is responsible for diseminating and collecting the graduate group’s electronic files (e.g., the conference mailing list) at the beginning and end of the academic year.

Graduate Student-Faculty Colloquia Coordinator (GCR)


  • The GCR coordinates five to six graduate/faculty colloquia per academic year. Typically, each colloquium consists of one German professor and one German graduate student. Colloquium presentations can include complete works, works in progress, and so on.
  • Meet with faculty coordinator and discuss possible presenters.
  • Contact graduate students and faculty with requests regarding presentations.
  • Contact administrative coordinator with food and beverage requests. (Each colloquium usually provides sandwiches, beverages etc.)
  • Create flyers for upcoming colloquia a week or so prior to the colloquium date, and place them in departmental boxes. (Formatting for the colloquia flyers are included on the G.C.R disc.)
  • Introduce the presenters at the colloquium, and serve as mediator for questions after each presentation.

Delta Phi Alpha Coordinators (DPAR)

Description of DPA

The Rho Chapter of the National German Honor Society was formed at Penn in December of 1931 and has been involved in the intellectual life of the University ever since. Membership in the Society is limited to those individuals who have demonstrated an abiding interest in the culture of German-speaking countries and who have distinguished themselves in their German studies at Penn.

Responsibilities for DPA Representatives in preparation of fall DPA event:

  • Contact and correspond with guest speaker. The speaker normally comes from outside of the department and often from outside of Penn. Topic selection should be geared toward undergraduate students. Discuss with the faculty member in charge of DPA for suggestions.
  • Create and distribute flyer (see disc) to announce fall event. Invite faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students via e-mail (see administrative assistant for appropriate listserv for undergraduate students).
  • Consult DPA faculty representative, and schedule date (November/early December) and location (often Kade Center).
  • Arrange for catering (consult administrative assistant).
  • One of the representatives will introduce the guest speaker, as well as lead discussion following the talk.

Responsibilities for DPA Representatives in preparation for spring DPA induction ceremony:

  • Distribute memo requesting nominations in January to all German instructors (note instructors not in the German Department) via email, as well as by distributing letter (see disc) into departmental boxes.
  • Check nominees against academic requirements, including German language ability, GPA, and at least sophomore status.
  • Send letter to qualifying nominees in early March at the latest, informing them of the nomination, inviting them to the induction ceremony, and requesting a reply (see disc).
  • Give list of accepting nominees to administrative assistant, for certificates to be ordered (they normally arrive after the actual induction ceremony) (see disc for order form).
  • Repeat all applicable steps from fall event in organizing the actual ceremony.

Graduate Student Conference Organizers

Fall Responsibilities:

  • The Fall semester gets the ball rolling for the graduate conference which is held in Spring, and although the work is simple and straightforward compared to the logistical tangle of the Spring committee, the Fall positions are, perhaps, more important in making sure that the conference is a success.
  • The Fall committee chooses the theme of the conference, drafts the Call for Papers and puts out the publicity. Obviously, an appealing theme is vital to a good conference; there are various ways to settle on a topic, from the plenum to the individual vision. Generally the committee, or even the graduate student body as a whole, suggests a broad field and one individual takes it upon herself to narrow this down to a specific strand. The trick is to find a topic that is neither limiting, specialized, nor a monster that would lead to a rambling days worth of unconnected papers.
  • It is also important to choose a keynote speaker as soon as the topic has been defined - faculty, ordinarily from outside Penn, except where we have made a high-profile recent appointment in that area of studies. Inviting the guest speaker first and then trying to tailor a topic around him or her doesn’t work so well. One usually consults the Dept. Chair in making a decision on the speaker. Arrangements for travel and accommodations should be coordinated with the administrative assistant.
  • A Call for Papers usually introduces the topic in one or two paragraphs and suggests some of the questions to which it gives rise; then follows a dozen or more “thematic strands” for possible contributions, almost always preceded by the mantra “submissions may address, but are not limited to the topics of......” Thus, a strongly focused committee member can play with ideas of what her dream conference would look like, while leaving room for reality. Refer to last year's C.F.P., if you wish.
  • Once the whole committee has looked over the C.F.P., it can be posted out to the various departments. We have a list of German chairs in the major regional universities (see conference disc), which is of enormous help in mass-mailing paper publicity, but most submissions are actually hooked through listserves, of which the indispensable one is GERMAN-CFPL@PO.MISSOURI.EDU - a resource which every grad student should bear in mind. The Fall committee likes to set submission deadlines for the end of the Fall semester, and usually ends up having to extend that deadlines by anywhere between a week and a month, and thus shares with the Spring committee the work of selecting speakers.

Spring Responsibilities:

  • Meet with Fall representatives to check on status of Fall responsibilities.
  • Consult with departmental GSAC representative concerning funding from GSAC for guest (department normally provides for accommodations for keynote speaker) accommodations.
  • Determine Location (usually in Kade Center). Reserve said location.
  • Arrange accommodations for guests (Divine Tracy Hotel is an economical option near campus). Guest students staying with Penn students is also an option.
  • Late January/Early February, review submissions and send invitations and rejections. Stress time limits, ask for audio/visual requirements, etc. Six to seven presenters (including a Penn student or two if possible) and keynote speaker are appropriate for a one-day conference.
  • Form panels based on thematic similarities. An appropriate number of papers for a single panel is 3-4. Roundtable format is also an option and have been preferred in the past. (see disc for last years panel information)
  • Develop schedule for the conference, including specifics involving time and moderators. Create program to distribute at the conference.
  • Recover posters from Fall semester mailing for further on campus publicity. Post throughout campus and distribute electronically.
  • Organize and order food and beverages (breakfast and lunch during conference). A dinner outing usually follows conference, consult with chair.
  • Miscellaneous: order nametags for all guests and department members, notepads and pens as well.

Weekend of Conference:

  • Physical setup on pervious day.
  • Moderators: introduce panelists and be prepared with possible questions.