The UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division has hired a Ph.D. alum to serve graduate students’ professional development needs.
Dr. Robert Hamm assumed the role of coordinator of graduate student professional development last week, working out of the Graduate Student Resource Center in the Student Resource Building.
Dr. Hamm comes to UCSB from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of English for seven years. At LSU, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses on William Shakespeare, Early Modern British literature, and print culture/the book trade; and won awards for his teaching. In addition, Hamm directed undergraduate theses and served on dissertation committees.
Hamm holds two bachelor’s degrees — in English literature and French literature — from Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport. He earned his Ph.D. in English literature from UCSB in 2004, and held a post-doc at UCSB for a year before joining the LSU faculty.
In his role as coordinator of graduate student professional development, Hamm will assist in establishing priorities, setting goals and developing campus best practices in order to implement effective graduate student professional development services. He will help to develop and present workshops; and will advise graduate students on matters related to academic success, professional development, career preparation, work/life balance and campus resources. Among the events and initiatives he will assume a big role in planning and managing are: Graduate Division New Student Orientation; fellowship receptions; Graduate Student Showcase and the Grad Slam; and Commencement.
Hamm will also be working collaboratively on various initiatives with other campus units and staff members, including the new Career Services assistant director and coordinator of graduate student services, John Coate.
Hamm grew up in Shreveport, La., and spent more than a year pursuing post-graduate studies in Paris after earning his bachelor’s degrees. Back in Louisiana, Hamm decided he wanted to focus on Early Modern Studies for graduate work.
“UCSB had a particularly good graduate program,” Hamm recalled. “When it came time to decide where to go, I narrowed down my offers to campuses within the University of California: Berkeley, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. After visiting the three campuses and meeting with faculty and graduate students, I chose UCSB.”
Having been a grad student at UCSB, Hamm offers his perspective on how students can make the most of their time here.
“I would encourage students to get out of their home departments whenever possible and seek out the exciting work that other graduate students and faculty are doing at UCSB,” he said. “Engaging with unfamiliar areas of campus helps not only to build community, but it can also have unintended benefits for one’s own research and areas of interest.”
Dr. Carol Genetti, dean of the Graduate Division, said: “We are thrilled to be able to add Robert Hamm to the Graduate Division staff! He has energy and experience, as well as a strong dedication to ensuring that our graduate students have effective resources for finding the career paths that really work for them. I am confident that he is going to do great things for our campus — watch this space!”
In his role, Hamm hopes to engage students in activities and intends to seek out and respond to their ideas.
“I hope to make career and professional development an active and inviting resource to help UCSB’s graduate students to succeed in their studies and to embark on meaningful careers in academia and the public and private sectors,” he said. “In addition to continuing the wonderful resources that are already in place, I plan to organize regular discussions, seminars and workshops on topics related to personal and professional development. I also want to invite our students to suggest topics or identify activities to help them advance in their studies and into their careers.”
Hamm and his wife, Julie Mickelberry, vice president of public policy and community engagement at Planned Parenthood Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties, met while both were studying at UCSB. They have an “extremely energetic and curious” 7-year-old son named Finley who “has really taken to life in Santa Barbara,” Hamm said. The Santa Barbara couple are “passionate about food, so we spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I’m particularly interested in baking and home-brewing. I also enjoy hiking and am glad to be back on the Santa Barbara trails.”
Students can meet with Hamm in his office in the Graduate Student Resource Center (1217 in the SRB). He can be reached by phone at 805.893.2671 or email at email@example.com.