New Graduate and Professional Student Assembly officers inaugurated

By Katie Campbell

Supreme Court Justices and renditions of “Hail to the Chief” were absent from the… Supreme Court Justices and renditions of “Hail to the Chief” were absent from the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly’s inauguration — but there were plenty of laughs, speeches and high expectations to mark the event.

Devanath greeted her new position as president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly with grace and a smile.

“I have really huge shoes to fill,” Nila Devanath said. “I’m only a size 5!”

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly held its annual officer inauguration last night in the William Pitt Union’s Lower Lounge to introduce the new executive board, discuss successes from the past year and thank members and friends of the organization for their hard work. The new board members will begin their term May 1.

The GPSA represents about 10,000 students on Pitt’s main campus, from the various graduate programs, including the School of Arts and Sciences, Pharmacy, the School of Law, the Swanson School of Engineering, the School of Education, Medical School, Dental School and the Katz Graduate School of Business.

The election, held on Friday, April 2, had about a 6 percent turnout rate. Two of the losing candidates for GPSA president, Dustin McDaniel and Joe Pleso, raised questions about Devanath’s candidacy.

Devanath is a senior and will attend Pitt’s School of Medicine in the fall.

Members, representatives from other graduate school organizations, spouses and friends gathered over beer, wine, dinner and dessert.

The event began with congratulations for the out-going board from Paul Supowitz, vice chancellor of governmental relations at Pitt and G. Reynolds “Renny” Clark, vice chancellor for community initiatives.

The board’s “level of energy and discussion raised the bar this year,” Supowitz said.

Clark agreed and explained that when the student tuition tax came up this past year, Chancellor Nordenberg told him to ask the GPSA for help.

Clark and Supowitz both wished the new board good luck for this year.

“Nila’s a very dynamic woman, very focused, and I know she’s going to be an outstanding leader,” Clark said.

Patricia Beeson, vice provost for graduate and undergraduate studies, said the organization fluctuates over the years.

“It’s sometimes active, sometimes not-so-active,” she said.

GPSA President Daniel Jimenez offered the microphone to anyone in the room who wanted to speak.

Many volunteered, though no one stepped up to the lectern to speak. They spoke to the audience from the carpeted area behind the tables or from their seats.

Kim Payne, the representative from the biological sciences department, complimented last year’s board members on “how open-minded and easygoing they are.”

She has been “spoiled” by this group of people who really know how to get things done, Payne said.

Jimenez called Payne “the super rep,” and they laughed as they reminisced about their first lunch meeting to discuss ideas for GPSA.

Several other representatives shared their sentiments, and many wished Devanath good luck.

They spoke in a serious tone while speaking to the entire group, but when speaking to Devanath, their faces lit up and everyone couldn’t help but smile.

The final portion of the event was more formal, though the atmosphere remained relaxed.

Each out-going member spoke from behind the lectern, followed by some remarks from GPSA administrative assistant David Givens, before formally welcoming the new board member.

As part of the ceremony, Jimenez got up to welcome Devanath as the new president.

Givens introduced Jimenez as “the backbone of GPSA.”

“I’m very glad to be done,” Jimenez said, as he took off his suit jacket and hung it on the microphone stand.

The first time he met Devanath was after the G-20 Summit. She shared his desire to help students after the event, he said.

“Everyone else was trying to sweep things under the rug, and Nila was trying to help students,” he said. And that speaks to the type of leader she’ll be, he said.

Devanath said she is nervous to take over, but she’s confident she has the leadership skills and support she needs to succeed.

“I look forward to taking GPSA to new heights,” she said.