In 1990, Dr. Lee Foote received his PhD in Ecology from Utah State University. Now 26-years later, Foote returned to Logan on Jan. 20 to present on his book, Oral Exams: Preparing For and Passing Candidacy, Qualifying, and Graduate Defenses.
For Foote, coming back to his alma mater was a wonderful experience.
“USU has a lot of grasp on my career and life, especially since I met my wife here,” Foote said. “I also made music friends in bluegrass, and creative writing friends with whom I stay in contact.”
In addition to the friends and associations Foote made, he received an excellent education from the Department of Natural Resources.
“It seems strange to say about Utah, but it was very progressive in its natural resources education,” Foote said.
Foote also said he had wonderful faculty mentors while studying here.
“They took my education and challenged it,” Foote said. “They brought my knowledge to a new level.”
One of Foote’s faculty mentors was Wayne Wurtsbaugh. Wurtsbaugh continues to teach at the university and invited Foote to present to graduate students on his book.
At the presentation, Foote told students there are only five types of questions they will be asked in an oral comprehensive exam: questions you know the answer to, questions you don’t know the answer to, questions where you are unsure of the answer, questions you feel you cannot answer due to its personal nature and questions regarding graphs and data.
When responding to questions, Foote said it’s okay to say you don’t know the answer.
“A lot of us have trouble saying those three little words and they’re not ‘I love you,’” Foote said. “They’re ‘I don’t know.’ It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know.’”
As well as saying you don’t know, it’s important students have prepared for their exam by reviewing the literature within their field of study.
According to Foote, students need to review the seminal works within their field, what their committee members are studying and the most current literature within their discipline.
Lastly, Foote told students to be calm in the exam and trust the members of their committee.
“No one is trying to trick you,” Foote said.