In fall 2016, personnel changes resulted in the Graduate
Admissions Office in the School of Communication
short-staffed with the full responsibility of serving the
SOC graduate community, which included over 400
students, more than 100 faculty, and a large pool of
prospective students, during a busy admissions cycle.
Graduate recruiting, admissions, merit award processing,
collaboration with SOC’s Marketing & Strategic
Communication, and other key offices of the university
community, financial budget management and working
with faculty on implementing changes to curriculum were
among the pressing duties that needed immediate attention.
Leila Hernandez, Graduate Program Coordinator, took
on extra tasks and frequently stayed late to ensure that the
office maintained the high standards the team had achieved
in the past. Juggling student meetings and information
sessions, new student inquiries, Ph.D. application
processing, and an increased involvement in marketing,
Leila never complained. Jean McGee, Director of Graduate
Advising, was instrumental in ensuring the high level of
advising services for 300 on-campus students and assumed
the advising responsibility for over 100 online students.
Jean also assisted with recruiting events to increase the
number of deposited students.
During the transition, customer service remained
high and processes were seamless to observers outside of
the office. Student inquiries and requests were responded
to on a daily basis. The team reviewed and processed 73
Ph.D. applications and scheduled 20 interviews; six Ph.D.
students were selected. Applications to SOC programs
continued to increase as did the number of admits and
deposits. Students continued to receive admission decisions
within a week of completing the application. Merit award
offers increased and were sent to admitted students in a
timely fashion. Tracking of offers and acceptances were
streamlined so that data was current at all times. Graduate
statistics continued to be reported on a weekly basis and
showed continued success.
The School of Communication is truly fortunate to have
such dedicated individuals who turned a challenging time
into a cohesive, team-oriented effort.
In recognition for their collaborative efforts and
outstanding results to run the SOC Graduate Admissions
Office smoothly through a challenging period, American
University is pleased to present Leila Hernandez and Jean
McGee with the 2017 Collaboration Award.