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Oklahoma State University

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January Graduate Education Advocate: Dr. Ron Van Den Bussche

Friday, January 24, 2020

Dr. Ron Van Den Bussche currently serves as the Senior Associate Vice President of Research (VPR) in the Office of the Vice President for Research at Oklahoma State University.

Dr. Ron Van Den Bussche has worn many hats during his time at Oklahoma State, serving in interim capacities around campus. But his current hat has him situated as the Senior Associate Vice President of Research (VPR) in the Office of the Vice President for Research. As Senior Associate VPR, Dr. Van Den Bussche helps make decisions that keep research moving forward and works with the VPR and constituents to cultivate the future vision and goals for research on campus.

Dr. Van Den Bussche and the research office have partnered with the Graduate College on many different ventures over the last several years. One notably being the Graduate Student Success Center that opened last spring. The two units have cultivated a positive relationship over the years that allows for free-flowing communication and collaboration. Dr. Van Den Bussche elaborated on this partnership and recognized the similarities between the missions and visions of the offices. “There is a lot of complementarity between what we are trying to do and what the Graduate College is trying to do. Most of the research that is done on campus is done by graduate students and you need to have great graduate students in order to keep that research moving. Everything the Graduate College is doing to make students more well-rounded, and more professional is exactly what we desire and is very rewarding to see.”

Dr. Van Den Bussche only sees the Grad College and the VPR Office continuing their partnership in the future. “With our Tier 1 research initiatives in mind, and the fact that we have shared GRA’s in some capacities in the past, I only see this partnership growing.” He has recognized the difficulties each of the offices share in that neither office has graduate students that are their own. “The students belong to Arts and Sciences or whatever college they are in. But when we can collaborate and concentrate our efforts to support the students, that helps the research mission. It is nice to know that we can go to Dean Tucker with ideas and vice versa.” 

Dr. Van Den Bussche acknowledges how important professional development is for graduate students, but admits that he hasn’t always been on board with them. “It takes students away from the lab. I wanted my students in the lab, 24/7/365 – that’s the way I was brought up. But I have seen some of my own students get out of their silo, so to speak, to participate in some of the Professional Development activities and I’ve seen a difference.” Van Den Bussche said that the professional development opportunities provided by the Graduate College are critical, and useful in finding a job later on. “Things are not like they were back when I was a graduate student,” he recalls. “Even in my role, talking with other scientists is one thing, but it’s another thing to talk to the general public on why what we do is important. That’s why things like the Three Minute Thesis are fantastic – you have to give the elevator pitch, not all the details. That is training I never had, I had to learn by making mistakes.”

Dr. Van Den Bussche’s biggest piece of advice is to find balance. “Meet other people, other faculty, other grad students, even people in other disciplines – it will broaden your horizons. Take advantage of the professional development opportunities all over campus, and find a balance.”

One opportunity to meet students from other disciplines to help ‘get out of your silo’ is the newly launched Colleague Circles program, learn more here.

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