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Congratulations to Cindy Dodds, Recipient of the 2016 Graduate College Excellence Award for Graduate Contacts

The Graduate College is proud to announce that Cindy Dodds (Center for Biophysics & Quantitative Biology) is the winner of the 2016 Graduate College Excellence Award for Graduate Contacts. The award was presented on October 4 at the Annual Workshop for Directors of Graduate Study and Graduate Contacts at the iHotel.

Graduate Contacts in disciplinary units play an integral role in the academic careers of our graduate students. With their work, they provide an invaluable service to the university and its community of students, faculty, and staff. The Graduate College seeks to recognize those staff members whose service has enhanced the experiences of graduate students and/or has had a positive impact on the operations of the graduate program or department. In order to be selected for the Graduate Contacts award, the individual’s service must have consistently exceeded expectations.

As staff members’ responsibilities regarding graduate program administration vary greatly from department to department, nominators are asked to explain how the nominee has exceeded expectations in their assigned duties. This year’s pool of nominations was extremely competitive, with strong nominations coming in from all over campus. The nomination letters from faculty, staff and students were sincere and moving. These letters often spoke of the strong commitment of the nominee to their department but also the relationships and impact on students and their success.  

Cynthia “Cindy” Dodds has been with the Biophysics program for over 22 years. “From the nomination letters, it is clear that Cindy has made a lasting and significant contribution to not only the Biophysics department but to students in other departments on campus,” Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Dean of the Graduate College, said.

According to the nomination letters, Dodds not only exceeded performance standards of the day to day responsibilities for the Biophysics program, but also identified areas to create new resources. Her guide for incoming students titled, “Cindy’s Guide to Living in Champaign-Urbana” was such a hit with students that it is featured on the Biophysics website. News of the guide spread to other departments on campus, some of which have adopted versions of Cindy’s Guide for their incoming students.

“The heartfelt comments in both the faculty and student nomination letters made it clear that the mutual respect and long lasting relationships that Cindy fosters in the department strengthens the program. The students rate her the best asset to the Biophysics program in their exit interviews.” Chodzko-Zajko said. “Her dedication to the program, faculty, and students certainly exceeds expectations.”

From everyone at the Graduate College, congratulations Cindy, and thank you for all that you do for your students and our campus community.