Written by Tiarra Bell, Staff Writer
After serving as the interim dean of Graduate School, James T. LaPlant is named the new dean of the Graduate School at Valdosta State University.
LaPlant says that he plans to grow a fund for graduate student research, grow and support faculty research, implement 4 +1 programs, and pick up a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in a five-year window.
LaPlant attended college in his hometown at the University of Central Oklahoma receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science. Staying within his home state, LaPlant received his master’s and doctoral degree also in Political Science at the University of Oklahoma.
Prior to arriving at Valdosta State, LaPlant worked for the Oklahoma State Board of Regents as a policy analyst. There, LaPlant discovered he was missing his true passion of being around students, faculty and staff on college campus.
“I was in a cubicle and I had to let someone know I was going to the bathroom,” LaPlant said. “I worked there for a couple of months and as soon I got the job at Valdosta, I was ready. I was ready to be on a campus. I really wanted to continue working with students and faculty.”
Once he arrived at Valdosta State in 1996, LaPlant received his first faculty job at VSU’s Graduate School.
“This is one of the best jobs on the planet,” LaPlant said. “You’re interacting with very bright, wonderfully motivated students. I enjoy working with a new group each semester and also the opportunity to take students study abroad. If I had a magic wand, I would make sure every one of our students get to study abroad and that they get to engage in a meaningful undergraduate research experience. I’m a big believer in study abroad and undergraduate research.
“There’s no better place to work than on a college campus.”
LaPlant has a philosophy that he applies to his administration position.
“What animates me the most is to be fair with individuals and to work hard,” LaPlant said. “We have one opportunity on this planet. If we work hard and give it our all, it can be contagious. If there’s a philosophy I follow whether it’s teaching or communicating with our wonderful staff or any part of my job, I hope that excitement and enthusiasm are contagious.“
Because of his administrative position, LaPlant only teaches one class per semester which includes southern politics, research methods, and conspiracy theories in American politics.
Responsibilities of dean of the graduate college include overseeing graduate admissions process, graduate assistantships, revisions to graduate curriculum, and the final process of thesis and dissertations.
“Much of my job is interacting with our wonderful staff,” LaPlant said.
Since becoming the interim dean on Feb. 1, 2013, LaPlant has expanded graduate assistantships, created a fund for graduate students who presented conferences, and graduate enrollment increase.
Aside from teaching at VSU, LaPlant is an active member of Southern Political Science Association, Georgia Political Science Association, mostly involved with Council Undergraduate Research for nearly twelve years with help along with professional development.
On the weekends, Dr. LaPlant enjoys occasional trips for a round of golf or watching the Green Bay Packers.