Graduate Student Blog


Why the David L. Clark Seminar in Educational Administration and Policy Matters: A Graduate Student Perspective

October 23rd, 2018 by


by Meredith L. Wronowski, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor, Miami University

We are approaching November, a perennially busy time for students and faculty members alike. I am writing to ask you to consider one more item for this already packed month: the deadline for nominations for students to participate in the David L. Clark Seminar in Educational Administration and Policy. I was honored to participate in last year’s Clark Seminar, co-sponsored by UCEA and AERA Divisions A and L, and I am hoping that my experience will convince faculty members to find the time to submit a student nomination and encourage students to express their interest in being nominated (yes, it is fine to tell your faculty members that you want to do this!).

As a late-stage doctoral student, it is often difficult to connect with a community. You may no longer be on campus regularly because you have finished coursework. You may find that you have little in common with other students who are in earlier stages of their programs. Your access to your faculty advisors may also be reduced because they are focused on moving other students to the dissertation stage, and your “training wheels” are ready to come off. However, community is perhaps more important now than ever before—it turns out that writing in isolation without a support system is really quite difficult. This is when previously high-performing students can start to fade or find themselves going down the proverbial rabbit-hole. The Clark Seminar was a life raft for me during this time. Of course, I got to read and engage in the work that other educational leadership and policy students were conducting, but I also got to break bread, commiserate, and most importantly share fellowship with them.

Beyond the fellowship with other graduate students, the working group that I was in pushed my own research beyond where I could have taken it alone. I am indebted to my gifted faculty mentors, Dr. Alex Bowers and Dr. Sara Dexter, and to all the students in the group. I participated in the Clark Seminar just as I was preparing for my dissertation defense, and this generous group helped me polish my work and anticipate some questions that my dissertation committee and journal reviewers might ask. I walked into my defense feeling calm and prepared because of the opportunities to speak about my dissertation to my Clark Seminar working group.

Finally, I am not sure how they do it, but the Clark Seminar Planning Committee assembles the highest-quality faculty members to participate in two days of pretty grueling work. I was in awe of the talent in the room—I had a lot of “fan girl” moments. I was more in awe of how giving all the faculty members were. They shared their work and their own stories of being a Clark Seminar participant—indeed, many of them are Clark alumni, which speaks to the quality of the Clark Seminar. They also spoke candidly about the pitfalls in academia and how to avoid them, uncovering the hidden curriculum that so many of us miss.

November is a tough month, but everything worth doing is tough and takes time. I hope that students find the time to speak to their faculty members about a Clark nomination, and I hope that faculty members take the time to nominate their outstanding students.

ANNOUNCEMENT – 2018 Clark Seminar Call for Nominations

The David L. Clark National Graduate Student Research Seminar in Educational Administration & Policy, sponsored by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), Divisions A and L of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and SAGE Publications, brings emerging educational administration and policy scholars and noted researchers together for two days of presentations, generative discussion, and professional growth. Many of the graduates of this seminar are now faculty members at major research institutions across the globe. This year’s seminar will be held at the beginning of this year’s AERA meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 5-9, 2019. Please note, though, that the dates are tentative. For a list of current scholars, visit Clark Seminar Participants. Last year’s program and more information on the seminar are available at Nominations are due by Sunday, November 4, 2018 at 5 pm EST. See the call HERE. Please contact Margaret Thornton at with any questions.