Friday, August 28, 2015

A Word from the Ruler Lady: Carolyn Law

It was not so long ago that the mythic figure of the fierce Ruler Lady loomed large in grad school folklore. She lurked in graduate schools across the land, measuring the margins of theses and dissertations with uncanny (some say even preternatural) precision. She could stop the hearts of suppliant thesis and dissertation writers with a single wave of her terrible sword. I mean ruler. The unluckiest ones could expect to be sent away, trembling, to retype—literally, like on a typewriter—whole pages of their precious documents, in triplicate and on expensive cotton-bond paper.

Like all urban legends, there is perhaps a kernel of truth in the basic story, but over time such tales grow to incredible proportions and soon spiral out far beyond the bounds of reality.

I am the Ruler Lady at NIU, but I’m really not very fierce. And I do not use a ruler anymore, although I must admit that for many years I did. In fact, quite a lot has changed in the Thesis Office at NIU since I started out as Thesis and Dissertation Advisor in 1996. For one thing, theses and dissertations are born digital these days and thus the post-defense submission, review, and approval process is entirely electronic now. Other more recent changes in the Thesis Office, however, aren’t so much technological as programmatic.

Starting this Fall 2015, the Thesis Office is delighted to offer a full menu of targeted workshops to assist thesis and dissertation writers in all departments of the university to meet the specific Graduate School format requirements and general standards of quality for academic writing. My hope is that by meeting with students before they defend, answering their individual questions as they arise during composition, I can smooth out the sometimes bumpy road to final approval. To help me with that lofty goal, I have enlisted a couple of excellent GAs to the cause. Mike and Clare, who’ve been blogging in this space for several months, know exactly what you are going through. Their perspective has proven invaluable to me in designing new programs and services, updating our online resources, and creating a more student-focused office in general.

Please check out the calendar of upcoming workshops for Fall 2015 on the website (click here) and look for new offerings and events in the coming months.

The Thesis Office staff is alive and well in Adams Hall Room 104 and we’re eager to help you achieve your goals. Feel free to drop in the office without appointment Monday – Thursday 10 am – 2 pm to see how we may be of assistance to you. And be sure to subscribe to this blog. You’ll receive posts twice a month on a wide variety of topics of interest to thesis and dissertation writers at every stage in the process.

Finally, remember that although I may still strike fear in the hearts of graduate students, I promise to use my power only for good.

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