Graduate School honors Debra Bennett for contributions to graduate education

Author: Mary Hendriksen

As it does every Commencement season, the Graduate School has honored three members of the University’s faculty and staff for their distinctive contributions to graduate education, including Debra Bennett of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Graduate Administrative Staff Member Award

2014 Graduate Administrative Staff Member Award Winner, Debra Bennett, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Debra Bennett

Debra Bennett has served as the graduate studies administrative assistant in her department since 1983. During that time, the number of graduate students has grown from approximately 80 to 182 — making it the largest graduate program at the University. It is Bennett’s dedication to the students and the program, her organizational skills, and a fervent desire to make the chemistry and biochemistry graduate program ever better that make her “indispensable,” her director of graduate studies says, in administering a program of this size and caliber.

Bennett was recognized for her key role in the department’s recruiting efforts and for her superb organizational skills. Moreover, she has built an outstanding rapport with students.

“When I initially arrived to the department,” one student wrote in support of her nomination, “I felt pretty much like an outsider. I felt that no one would accept me — only a lowly graduate student with changing ideas about my research focus and my own struggles. Deb was the first person who made me feel welcome … and were it not for Deb, I would not have graduated … She recognizes that good research starts with a good attitude and a sense of belonging to a community … and she always provided kernels of wisdom to challenge me to keep pushing forward.”

Bennett is the fourth winner of the Graduate Administrative Staff Member Award.

Originally published by Mary Hendriksen at on May 21, 2014.