Graduate Student Excellence Focus of Texas A&M “Community of Scholars” Program

Graduate students, faculty and staff across the Texas A&M University campus gathered this week for a “Community of Scholars” event themed “Shared Humanity Through Humor” with an emphasis on honoring award-winning graduate students.

The “Community of Scholars” events were sponsored by the Office of the Provost & Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs as a means of bringing the campus community together around dialogue for continued pursuits of excellence at Texas A&M, a spokesperson for the office explained.

Included were a dinner and a talk featuring Firoozeh Dumas, lecturer and critically acclaimed author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent. Born in Abadan, Iran, Dumas uses humor and her personal experiences of growing up in California to talk about cultural awareness. She says that Texas A&M has “a special place in her heart” because her father was here in the 1950s as a Fulbright Scholar from Iran.

“My father often spoke of his time at Texas A&M and how the community of mostly Texan students accepted and encouraged him and his fellow Fulbright Scholars. I am happy to return to share some of the insights I have gained through similar experiences.”

The “Community of Scholars” event caps off several weeks of activities that highlight excellence among Texas A&M’s graduate students, including the presentation of The Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Graduate Student Awards for 2012 and the U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship Awards.

The Association of Former Students’ Distinguished Graduate Student Awards for exemplary efforts in research, teaching, and mentoring were presented to 15 outstanding graduate students earlier this month. The awards program, created in 1965, recognizes the important role graduate students play in the mission of Texas A&M. Each recipient was presented a framed certificate and a custom watch which will be lasting mementos of this award.

The U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship Awards were established in 2006 with the support of Phil Gramm, the former United States Senator from Texas who served as a professor of economics at Texas A&M before being elected to Congress. Seven current doctoral students were presented awards of $5,000 each and will be henceforth recognized as Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellows for their scholarship and contributions in their disciplines.

“These awards recognize the dedication of our graduate students beyond their scholarly pursuits to include their efforts to assist Texas A&M’s advancement in many important ways,” says Karen Butler-Purry, associate provost for graduate studies. “Graduate students provide teaching support for undergraduate courses, they mentor undergraduates in research and scholarly activities, they volunteer as mentors to student organizations and they support activities that provide service to the community and promote cultural awareness on campus,” Texas A&M is extremely proud of these students and their accomplishments that have earned recognition through these programs.”

A list of the 2012 honorees for both award programs can be accessed at the Office of Graduate Studies website at

Texas A&M officials emphasize that the university remains committed to building the future of the professoriate and deeper academic credentials required by industries through graduate education. The FY12 Strategic Budget Reallocation process recognized this priority and allowed for contribution of over $2 million to support graduate programs across the university, they point out.

The Office of Graduate Studies works with each college to facilitate the use of these funds as well as to support the recruitment, recognition and program completion of graduate students. The Office of Graduate Studies is committed to a diverse campus climate, enhancement of the graduate experience, and the development of all students as global citizens.

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