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OGSL Handbook

Office of Graduate Student Life Handbook

Updated February, 2015


What is the OGSL?

The Office of Graduate Student Life (OGSL) is one of three branches of the Graduate Student Association (GSA).  The other two are the Executive Board (EB) and Senate.

The OGSL plays a critical role in the GSA by providing daily, hands-on support to graduate students and graduate student organizations (GSO’s) seeking funding, writing advice, event support, and general guidance.


The Executive Administrative Assistant (EAA) leads the OGSL.  He/she attends EB meetings and works collaboratively with the EB to implement GSA policies.  The EAA decides how best to delegate tasks among the OGSL staff members, within reason according to each member’s defined role.  Except for the EAA, all OGSL staff positions are filled by full-time (20 hours per week) graduate assistants.


Each graduate assistant writes an annual report describing their activities, both routine (e.g. responded to x funding requests, met with x students for writing support) and one-time-only (e.g. participated in EB Election Board, helped plan Graduate Research Conference).  The reports provide a written record of OGSL accomplishments and division of labor.  They also collect helpful information for redefining GA roles, if necessary.


OGSL Staff Roles

ALL OGSL staff members

  • Assist the OGSL and GSA in their mission to support and promote graduate students on and off campus.
  • Collaborate with each other and the GSA Executive Board collegially to implement GSA’s mission.
  • Attend weekly OGSL team meetings, monthly Senate meetings, GSA Social Hours, Graduate Student Week events, the Graduate Research Conference, and The Graduate School events
  • Maintain and develop knowledge of the Graduate Student Handbook, The Graduate School policies, and GSA policies.


Executive Administrative Assistant

  • Provides training, guidance, and supervision to the OGSL staff
  • Serves as a liaison between GSA and the university
  • Provides continuity in GSA and the OGSL office during transitions
  • Aids GSA and OGSL staff in achieving goals
  • Attends and assists with GSA events
  • Attends weekly Executive Board meetings, monthly Senate meetings, monthly Graduate Program Director meetings, and biweekly meetings with the Associate Dean of the Graduate School
  • Assists the GSA Vice President in planning and organizing the Graduate Research Conference
  • Maintains the GSA office by answering phones, ordering office supplies, and managing emails
  • Oversees travel and research grants, event planning, room scheduling and food orders
  • Oversees GSA spending, manages GSA’s P-card and D-card processes, and assists in end of year reconciliation


Travel and Research Grants Coordinator

  • Oversees the overall operations of travel and research grants, which includes processing and monitoring travel and research grant applications and working fund requests in accordance with university and GSA policy
  • Works closely with the Graduate School Fiscal Management Specialist
  • Serves as the liaison between grant applicants and UMBC accounting offices
  • Maintains the master grant database and generates reports on grant distribution
  • Updates student records as needed
  • Assists as needed with filing and disseminating important information
  • Tracks volunteer hours


Community Liaison  


  • Represents GSA & UMBC graduate students at campus-wide university committees
  • Brings issues pertinent to graduate students and new or revised university policies and procedures to the attention of the GSA Executive Board and, if applicable, the GSA Senate
  • Serves as an ex-officio member of the GSA Executive Board
  • Leads GSA’s community engagement efforts and programming
  • Facilitates communication between GSA, OGSL, graduate students, and the greater UMBC/Baltimore community

Graduate Student Organization Support

  • Advises, trains, and coordinates Graduate Student Organizations (GSOs) and approves event requests, while supporting them in event organization, as needed
  • Maintains a record of expenses of the Graduate Student Organizations and submits reimbursement requests on behalf of GSO leaders
  • Works with GSA Executive Board to activate GSOs and approve budgets for each academic year
  • Assists in routine office tasks as needed


Writing Advisor

  • Provides advice and support for all phases of graduate student writing and oral assignments, including organization, drafting, and editing
  • Assists graduate students with using grammar, sentence structure, and style appropriate for each academic task
  • Advises graduate students on a variety of documents, including essays, papers, applications, resumes, cover letters, and thesis and dissertation chapters
  • Maintains relationships with repeat advisees and meet the needs of one-time advisees
  • Maintains appointment scheduling through GSA email and other online services
  • Supports both native and non-native speakers of English, and students from a variety of disciplines
  • Conducts a yearly writing workshop for UMBC’s Promise Success Seminar series
  • Is familiar with various style guides
  • Conducts occasional workshops on writing strategies relevant to graduate work (cover letter writing, citation use, essay prose, etc.)
  • Promotes Writing Advisor role and services to UMBC graduate community
  • Updates, maintains and advertises Writing Advisor website content
  • Assists with routine office tasks as needed


GSA Communications Manager

  • Manages all communications between GSA, OGSL, graduate students, and the greater UMBC/Baltimore community.
  • Manages GSA email inbox, updates GSA social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the myUMBC portal), and co-manages the GSA website (formatted in WordPress and Google).
  • Manages logistics of all GSA events (catering, room reservations, scheduling), including monthly Senate meetings and social hours, National Graduate Student Week (April), the Graduate Research Conference (March), and special events (i.e. Fall Welcome Picnic, GSA Awards Banquet).
  • Recruits and manages all community service requirements graduate students must complete when receiving GSA travel/research grant funding.
  • Works alongside the Executive Administrative Assistant to manage the GSA budget/receipt book and reconcile the student fee-generated GSA budget, approximately $300,000.
  • Creates and implements frequent feedback structure such as surveys, links to information on and off campus and discussion boards that focus on graduate student issues.
  • Brainstorms and generates new avenues to simplify processes that affect graduate students.
  • Receives information/issues from graduate students and quickly creates solutions readily available to graduate students.
  • Troubleshoots technical issues and streamlines processes to support superior customer service and a culture of, “How can GSA help solve this issue?”
  • Assists with routine office tasks as needed
  • Tracks attendance of GSO and Program senators at GSA senate meetings