LeeFooteTwenty-six years after receiving his Ph.D. in ecology from Utah State University, Dr. Lee Foote returned to Logan on Jan. 20 to present on his book, Oral Exams: Preparing For and Passing Candidacy, Qualifying, and Graduate Defenses.

Foote told students there are five types of questions in an oral comprehensive exam: (1) questions you know the answer to, (2) questions you don’t know the answer to, (3) questions where you are unsure of the answer, (4) questions you feel you cannot answer due to its personal nature and (5) questions regarding graphs and data.

One of Foote’s key lessons was that it’s okay to not 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.”

Foote emphasized that students must prepare for exams by reviewing the literature within their field of study; students need to review the seminal works within their field, what their committee members are studying and current literature within their discipline.

Foote also told students to be calm during the exam and trust their committee members.

“No one is trying to trick you,” he said

Wayne Wurtsbaugh, one of Foote’s faculty members and professor in the college of natural resources, extended the invitation for Foote to share this insight with graduate students.

Foote said coming back to his alma mater was a wonderful experience, noting the excellent education he received from the college of natural resources.

“It seems strange to say about Utah, but it was very progressive in its natural resources education,” he said. “They took my education and challenged it and brought my knowledge to a new level.”

In addition to his education, Foote made lasting friends and associations during his time in Logan.

“USU has a lot of grasp on my career and life, especially since I met my wife here,” Foote said. “I made bluegrass music friends and creative writing friends with whom I stay in contact.”

– Katie Feinauer, RGS Communications: katie.feinauer@usu.edu