In response to Congress eliminating the tax-exempt status of graduate stipends, the idea of a national graduate student association was discussed by graduate students from four schools attending the First National Teaching Assistant Training Conference at The Ohio State University in the spring of 1986.This group called the first national meeting in March 1987 at Washington State University. The group became the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) at this meeting. A national conference coordinator, information exchange coordinator, legislative concerns coordinator, and five regional coordinators were selected.

The Second National NAGPS Conference was hosted by Penn State University in March 1988. A provisional constitution was drafted at this meeting and was reviewed at the first set of regional conferences held in fall,1988. An executive committee consisting of six regional coordinators, information exchange coordinator, conference coordinator, and national political coordinator was formed. Changes in the tax code in 1986 resulted in graduate student stipendsbeing classified as taxable income. 1987 brought a rash of tax audits of graduate students in the Southeast. NAGPS followed these audits closely. Another national graduate student association, Graduate Student Coalition Against Tuition Taxation (GSCATI), had formed in the West over the tax issues created by the expiration of IRC Section 127 and the resulting taxation of tuition waivers. Representatives of NAGPS and GSCATT met for the first time in Washington, DC, in the Summer 1988 while cooperatively lobbying Congress on the tuition waiver issue. The success of the lobbying effort in restoring the exclusion of tuition waivers from taxation made both groups realize the importance of having a permanent voice for graduate students at the national level. Both groups met again later that summer in Memphis, Tennessee, and agreed to merge and meet at the next NAGPS conference in Miami, Florida. In January 1989, the constitution and bylaws were written and approved for forwarding to the members at large.
At the 3rd National Conference, hosted by the University of Miami in 1989, NAGPS incorporated itself as the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS). The constitution and bylaws were adopted. The organization was restructured, with the Executive Coordinator heading an Executive Committee consisting of five national officers and the five regional coordinators. John Capece, a graduate student in engineering at the University of Florida, was elected the first executive coordinator. Following the mandate of the membership to the executive committee at the Miami meeting, NAGPS launched its first health insurance policy for graduate and professional students in the summer of 1989. Later, a policy for international students was added.
The 4th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by Loyola and Northwestern Universities in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1990. The Consumer’s Guide to Graduate Schools project was introduced and plans to market a credit card were announced. At this meeting, NAGPS also decided to hire a professional management firm to help organize the growing database and assist with communicating with the membership. Carole Glover, a graduate student in anthropology at Memphis State University, was elected executive coordinator at this meeting. NAGPS Services was formed in April 1990 to handle business arrangements for NAGPS and thus safeguard the non-profit status of NAGPS. (NAGPS Services changed its name to Grad Services in 1995). Grad Services administered the NAGPS health insurance plan, and other special projects, through August of 2000. In February of 2000, the NAGPS Board of Directors, with the guidance of NAGPS attorney Peter Wolk, voted not to renew the contract with Grad Services. Beginning in September of 2000 all royalty monies from the NAGPS health insurance plan are paid to NAGPS.
The 5th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma in March 1991. NAGPS broke the 100-member schools mark at this meeting. Carole Glover, now a graduate student at The American University in Washington, DC, was re-elected executive coordinator at this meeting. NAGPS was a cosponsor of the 3rd National TA Training Conference in November 1991 and administered Pew awards to provide travel funds for graduate students to attend the conference. A former NAGPS Information Exchange Coordinator, Joe Janes (now Dr. Joseph Janes, University of Michigan), was a keynote speaker at the conference. NAGPS also joined the Student Loan Interest Deduction Coalition.
The 6th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by The American University in Washington, DC, in March 1992. Participants spent an afternoon visiting their Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill on behalf of graduate and professional education. Jay Ward, a graduate student at Memphis State University, was elected executive coordinator at this meeting.
The 7th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, in April of 1993. Bonita McMullen, a graduate student at Texas A&M University, was elected executive coordinator at this meeting. The 3rd National TA Training Conference was be co-sponsored by NAGPS and was held in November of 1993.
The 8th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey, in April of 1994. At this conference, the membership voted to shift the National Conferences to the fall and to have National Officers elected in the fall. Regional Coordinators would continue to be elected in the spring, giving NAGPS a Board with staggered terms rather than all Board terms expiring at the National Conference. John Daniels, a graduate student in history at the University of North Texas, was elected executive coordinator at this meeting (to serve a six month term).
The 9th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, in October of 1994. Participants enjoyed many outside activities in the desert. The 1994 Congressional elections were on everyone’s minds. The NAGPS Federal Legislative Platform included support for student aid programs that were appearing in political documents for proposed budget cuts. David Dahlgren, a graduate student in business at the University of Minnesota, was elected executive coordinator at this meeting. The 1994 election and the subsequent takeover of both Congressional Houses by Republicans saw many changes in Washington, DC, and many proposals that had the potential to affect graduate students. In response to proposals to cut student aid, NAGPS staff and volunteers invested thousands of hours in collecting and disseminating information to graduate students, undergraduates, faculty and administrators through an email network that at its height reached some 15,000. NAGPS received widespread acclaim for its communication efforts, cooperative ventures with higher education associations, and advocacy efforts. Ultimately, most of the proposals that would have cut student aid programs were defeated and NAGPS was credited with making a substantial contribution in this regard. NAGPS joined the Alliance to Save Student Aid and the Committee for Education Funding, two coalitions devoted to preserving funding for education and student aid.
The 10th National NAGPS Conference was hosted by the Florida International University in Miami Beach, Florida, in October of 1995. Participants were energized by the recent legislative activity and the attention graduate students and graduate education were receiving. NAGPS initiated its first annual awards at this conference, presenting Graduate/Professional Student Organization of the year to the Graduate/Professional Student Council at the University of Arizona; Friend of Graduate/Professional Students to Terry Hartle, Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Council on Education; and President’s Awards to key individual graduate students. The NAGPS 1996/97 Federal Legislative Platform was adopted unanimously, and the body unanimously voted to support Affirmative Action programs that were designed to achieve equal access to graduate education. Jon Feller, a graduate student in music at Illinois State University, was elected executive coordinator at this meeting.
NAGPS was a co-sponsor of the 4th National Conference on the Training and Employment of Teaching Assistants and once again helped administer Pew Awards to worthy graduate students interested in attending. NAGPS’ Secretary, Tony Rosati of Georgetown University, represented NAGPS at the conference in Denver, Colorado, presenting remarks to the assemble body.
In November of 1995, NAGPS launched its Internet Job Bank, a member-only Internet-based career/ job service that received widespread publicity and participation. In February of 1996, NAGPS and Grad Services signed a five-year agreement extending the NAGPS name to the Grad Services administered health insurance plan. In the spring and summer of 1996, NAGPS developed several new benefits for individual students, signing an agreement with Boston-based Student Advantage to market a NAGPS discount card to graduate students throughout the country. In April, 1996, the Pacific and Mountain Regions of NAGPS were consolidated into the Western Region, reducing NAGPS’ regions to five. Throughout 1996, NAGPS continued to lobby Congress to maintain student aid funding and to extend Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code, which had expired at the end of 1994. NAGPS later received an award for its legislative efforts. NAGPS was a co-sponsor of the June 1996 Convocation on Science and Engineering Doctoral Education presented by the National Academy of Sciences and others. A NAGPS delegation of 15 graduate/professional students attended the full-day convocation in Washington, DC. In the summer of 1996, NAGPS entered into a relationship with Student Advantage, a Boston-based company that provides a National Student ID/Discount Card. A specially embossed NAGPS Student Advantage card was developed to supplement NAGPS National Student Memberships with a Student Advantage discount card. National Student Member growth resulted from this change, and NAGPS student members grew from 100 to nearly 20,000 by February of 1997.
The 11th National NAGPS conference was held in Santa Monica, California, October 24-27, 1996. A mini-conference on post-graduation employment was held in conjunction with this meeting. The NAGPS Awards Dinner keynote speaker was Assistant US Secretary for Postsecondary Education David Longanecker. The Graduate/Professional Student Council at Southern Illinois University/Carbondale was named GPSA of the year. Marty Liggett, formerly with the American Association of Dental Schools, was named “Friend of Graduate/Professional Students.” Bryan Hannegan, an earth systems science graduate student at the University of California/Irvine was elected executive coordinator. NAGPS launched its Fund for the Future in February of 1997. This fundraising campaign was designed to raise money for a development staff position that will ultimately facilitate growth of the organization. The Fund for the Future campaign was launched with a $12,000 contribution by Student Advantage, and pledges of nearly $1,500 from NAGPS Board Members. NAGPS held its first national Lobby Day on June 19, 1997, in conjunction with a NAGPS National Board meeting. Board members and graduate students from all over the US participated. Proposed tax relief legislation in June of 1997 included several items of concern to NAGPS and its members. A House proposal would have taxed the tuition waivers of university teaching and research assistants. Senate proposals would have restored the student loan interest tax deduction.White House proposals included offering a tuition tax credit that included graduate/professional tuition. NAGPS organized a highly-effective grassroots campaign which ultimately beat back efforts to tax tuition waivers, and supported Senate and White House proposals that benefitted graduated students. Legislation signed in August of 1997 ultimately included $5.1 billion in targeted tax relief for graduate/professional students overthe next five years. NAGPS received widespread acclaim from members of Congress and grad students for its successful educational efforts on behalf of students. NAGPS renamed and re-directed its national news publication in August of 1997. Offered in a tabloid newsprint format, NAGPS.ORG was distributed to 135,000 graduate/professional students at the beginning of the 1997/98 academic year. The fall 1997 issue was sponsored in part by The Education Resources Institute with the October/November issue to be sponsored by the American Express Education Loan Program. NAGPS co-sponsored the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions national meeting in Eugene, Oregon, July 25-26, 1997. NAGPS co-sponsored the 5th National Conference on the Training and Employment of Teaching Assistants in Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 6-9, 1997.
The 12th National NAGPS Conference was held October 30 to November 2,1997 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Our largest national conference ever,Bryan Hannegan, University of California/Irvine, was re-elected President. NAGPS received its largest pledge of financial support at the New OrleansConference, a $30,000 commitment toward conference sponsorship and publication expenses from The Education Resources Institute (TERI) of Boston, Massachusetts. NAGPS held its 2nd Graduate/Professional Lobby Day on Thursday, February 5, 1998, in Washington, DC. NAGPS co-sponsored the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions national meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, the summer of 1998. NAGPS co-founded the Post-Graduate International Network, an association of national graduate student organizations, and participated in the 2nd planning meeting in Budapest in October of 1998. GPS was an invited delegate from the United States to the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, and sent a delegate to this October, 1998, world meeting in Paris, France. On March 1, 1998, NAGPS hired its first, paid Legislative Director,Michael Agosta. Michael relocated to Washington, DC, and began to represent NAGPS and graduate student interests. The summer of 1998 found NAGPS deeply involved in graduate student provisions under consideration bythe Congress as it reauthorized the Higher Education Act of 1965. Ultimately,3 graduate/professional grant provisions were retained in the final Higher ducation Act, thanks in large part to the significant lobbying efforts of NAGPS and our Legislative Director. NAGPS held a successful Lobby Day in June of 1998 in Washington, DC. In October of 1998, the NAGPS Board finalized 2 years of planning and agreed to lease office space in Washington, DC, effective January 1,1999. The move to Washington, DC, was completed July 1999 when the Illinois office was closed and Roderick Jungbauer began work as the Executive Director out of the DC office. NAGPS was now an employer and no longer administered by a management company.
The 13th National NAGPS Conference was held November 19-22, 1998, in Braintree, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston).Susan Mahan, a doctoral student in Physics from Washington University, St. Louis, was elected Executive Coordinator. In May of 1999, Susan Mahan resigned, citing health reasons. Vice President Debbie Davis, a doctoral student in social ecology from the University of California/Irvine, assumed the role of Executive Coordinator through the remainder of the term. A successful Lobby Day was held in February of 1999.
The 14th NAGPS National Conference was held November 17-21, 1999 in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio State University Council of Graduate Students and Inter-Professional Council hosted the conference. Kathleen Carberry,a doctoral student at The Ohio State University, was elected Executive Coordinator. In October of 1999, NAGPS received its first-ever grant, in the amount of $41,000, from the Sloan Foundation to conduct the National Doctoral Program Survey, an assessment of educational and professional development practices in doctoral programs in the U.S. and Canada. The survey, NAGPS’ most ambitious project to date, was conducted during the Spring and Summer of 2000 and gathered information from nearly 33,000 doctoral students at 399 universities, representing over 5,100 programs. An advisory board of professionals in education and research was formed in September of 2000 to assist with the data analysis and publicity efforts. Winter of 2000 was a difficult time of transition for NAGPS, as the challenges began to be felt of moving from a management-company model of administration to an employee-based model with oversight by the Board of Directors. Employee resignations led to several search processes during the year. Longtime Webmaster Tony Rosati resigned, leaving NAGPS™ extensive communications function in the hands of NAGPS Information Exchange Coordinator Carl Rebman. NAGPS secured the services of an attorney and an accountant, and voted to establish an advisory board of higher educational Professionals.These steps assisted in NAGPS’ continued development as a respected DC-based non-profit organization. Spring of 2000 saw efforts by the NAGPS Board in terms of visibility within the higher education community and beyond.Representatives of the NAGPS Board attended regional meetings of the Council of Graduate Schools, the annual conference of the National Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, and a conference organized by the University of Washington entitled “Re-Envisioning the Ph.D.,” a national meeting of higher education and other leaders to discuss issues in doctoral education in the U.S. NAGPS held successful Lobby Days in both February and June of 2000.In June of 2000 NAGPS celebrated its one-year anniversary of being fully established in Washington, DC with a reception for members and friends. Legislative Director Bob Brink, a member of the Virginia State Legislature,was hired and began his duties in July of 2000.
The 15th Annual National Conference was held October 25-29, 2000 in Nashville Tennessee. Vanderbilt University™s Graduate Student Council hosted the conference. As of June 2000, NAGPS had 131 Member Graduate Student Associations, representing nearly 800,000 graduate/professional students. Seventy Graduate School Educational Affiliates round out the organizational membership roster. The 15th Annual National conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee October 25th 29, 2000. The conference was sponsored by the Graduate Student Council of Vanderbilt University. Kimberly Suedkamp Wells, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri at Columbia was elected Executive Coordinator. NAGPS had a challenging but exciting year with preparations for the 2000 National Doctoral Program Survey. In conjunction with the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Annual Meeting in New Orleans in December 2000, NAGPS board members and staff met with the survey Advisory Committee for the first time. Over a two-day period, the Advisory Committee brainstormed about future analysis directions, public relations strategies, and methodological and logistical constraints. As a result of this meeting, the Survey team decided major research questions to pursue would relate to gender, ethnicity, citizenship, and race. Due to fiscal constraints, the Board of Directors had an abbreviated In-Person meeting in February of 2001 on the Gallaudet University Campus.Due to the generous efforts of Marilyn Fernandez (Human Diversity Chair), board members were able to obtain discounted lodging rates and meeting room space. Board members had a much-needed opportunity to come together in person and get better acquainted with each other. During the spring of 2001, NAGPS had a full round of successful Regional Conferences attended by many of the board of directors. In most cases, NAGPS was able to send at least two additional board members to each regional conference for networking and gathering feedback. June 2001 marked the second anniversary of our establishment in Washington,D.C. with the national office. Jackie Tyson had just been hired as the new Program Coordinator and attended the board meeting to meet the entire group for the first time. In conjunction with our June In-Person meeting, the board also had a very successful Lobby Day. With the excellent assistance of Legislative Director Bob Brink, each board member met with their senators, representatives, and members of pertinent committee offices. NAGPS was particularly focused on our efforts to repeal CIPRIS related legislation.As a result, board members attended several meetings with Immigration Subcommittee on both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The arrival of Fall 2001 coincided with major progress on the 2000 National Doctoral Program Survey. In September,respondents were asked to review and edit the distribution of their written comments in preparation for the public release. With the generous support of the University of Missouri at Columbia, NAGPS was able to host the survey results on the web at reduced cost.Survey results became available to supporters on October 10 and to the public on October 17, 2001. The visibility of NAGPS as an organization has greatly increased. Board and staff members have attended numerous conferences on our behalf including the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA), Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Regional and National Meetings, American Counseling Association (ACA) National Meeting, and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) Sumner Symposium. Finally, the board selected a site for the 2002 National Conference. This year marked the first year NAGPS actually had two or more schools competing for our conference bid. The University of Texas and Washington University in St. Louis both actively worked to secure the conference nomination. With the help of members through our list serves, the board gathered feedback and finally selected St. Louis as the 2002 National Conference Site. Deans Thatch and Berland have been supporters of NAGPS for a long time and are looking forward to the event.
Doris Dirks, from Western Michigan University, was elected as president at the 16th Annual NAGPS National Conference, which was held in Tucson, AZ in November 2001. During her term as president, the economic downturn that the United States faced created new challenges for NAGPS during the 2001-2002 year. The events of September 11th had a large impact on the attendance at our national conference, and, as a result, conference revenues came in under expectations. Added to that, many campuses across the nation endured a rescinding of public appropriations. With schools receiving less money, organizations had less money; subsequently, organizational membership in NAGPS dropped. This large cut in NAGPS’ financial base produced an especially tight budget. Tragically, NAGPS lost one of its Board members in July 2002. Scott Zakon, a dedicated member of the organization, passed away while holding the position of Western Regional Coordinator. Scott will be greatly missed by the University of Colorado, by NAGPS, and by graduate and professional students nation-wide. Despite the events that have transpired during 2001-2002, NAGPS made progress on several fronts. First, 2002 marked a return of NAGPS’ legislative focus to the issue that had originally caused it to organize — the tax treatment of graduate and professional student stipends. With both Congress and the White House interested in cutting taxes, the time was ripe for restoring fellowships and scholarships to their fully tax-exempt status. A concerted lobbying effort throughout the year by member schools, particularly those from the University of California system, led to widespread legislative awareness of the issue. NAGPS continued to press forward with this campaign at the end of the 2001-2002 term, as it was believed that success was on the horizon. On other fronts, the Professional Student Concerns Committee that had been in the making for quite a while was now active. The web site for NAGPS was in dire need of updating, and the Board of Directors moved to outsource maintenance of the site to CaduceusWebs. In late May 2002, a new web site was unveiled with new graphics and updated information. Mailing listervs were also revamped and updated. As the 2001-2002 administration finished its term, some focus was turned to the Re-authorization of the Higher Education Act, to be taken on by Congress in 2004.
Anika E. Sandy was elected President at the 17th Annual NAGPS Conference. During her term she became Mrs. Anika E. Sandy-Hanson and worked to serve the organization at Howard University in Washington DC. Her location in the nation’s capital allowed Anika to work closely on the legislative and outreach efforts during the year. Through relationship building NAGPS has worked closely with the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the Association of American Universities (AAU), National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), Council for Educational Funding (CEF) and many others. NAGPS has supported several initiatives to address Congressional bills, national policies, and state legislation geared towards graduate students, higher education, and education as a whole. This year has also seen the addition of several partnership initiatives including the corporate partnership with Nelnet student loan consolidation and the National Black Graduate Student Association (NBGSA). The executive board has also voted to approve civic involvement with the Ventures Scholars Program which works to increase minority involvement in higher education. This year should see the introduction of legislation for the long fought graduate student tax-exemption campaign. The second lobby session of the 2002-2003 year will be held in conjunction with the National Conference and will occur on November 6, 2003 in Washington DC. The organization also looks forward to continuing its fight to increase the awareness of graduate and professional student concerns in the educational, political, and civic arenas.