At the beginning of the fall 2013 semester, Provost Hanson and the Faculty Consultative Committee charged the Special Committee on Graduate Education (SCGE) to identify opportunities for enhancement of support for graduate education, and to identify problems to solve and possible solutions to those problems. The committee issued their final report in December 2013.
Charge to the Special Committee on Graduate Education
Four issues emerged as major topics in the 2013 survey of graduate students, faculty, and staff who work with graduate students and through reports from Senate committee chairs. Thus, the SCGE has been organized into four subcommittees, each of which will make recommendations on one particular set of issues: 1) graduate student financing, 2) the facilitation of the graduate student experience, 3) graduate program enrollment management, and 4) the visibility and quality of graduate education. We are asking each subcommittee to provide responses to these concerns and, as appropriate, to make specific recommendations that will help strengthen the Graduate School for the future. The whole committee may also decide that there are additional issues it would like to address.
The SCGE will mainly focus on programs offering Ph.D. research degrees, particularly those that the National Research Council has identified as central to its assessment of graduate education in the United States. There are, however, additional graduate education issues that deserve attention and that may be highlighted by the work of this committee.
Below are listed some specific questions that might be addressed by each subcommittee. All four subcommittees are also asked to consider two additional questions that will be addressed by the committee as a whole:
- How can we ensure that interdisciplinary, interdepartmental graduate programs treat all graduate faculty members and their students equitably, regardless of their tenure-home department and college?
- What is the best way to organize and structure mechanisms for faculty governance of graduate education?
Because the University of Minnesota is engaged in strategic planning and the future of graduate education is clearly essential in this process, and because it would be ideal to be able to implement suggested improvements as soon as possible, perhaps in time for the next graduate student recruitment cycle, the SCGE, reflecting on the work of the whole and the work of the specific subcommittees, is asked to report back to the Provost and the FCC by December 1, 2013.
Subcommittee Queries - Initial Suggestions
(The subcommittees may choose to focus their efforts somewhat differently, and it is also the case that some of these questions could be taken up by more than one subcommittee.)
A) Graduate student financing.
- Should changes be made in the way recruitment fellowships are offered in order to matriculate a higher percentage of our top applicants?
- What are the trends and current models for graduate student funding in UofM graduate programs and are they sustainable?
- How does University of Minnesota funding of graduate education compare with that of our peers?
- What funding mechanisms should the Graduate School and the colleges use to provide incentives for establishing and maintaining highly ranked programs?
- What steps can be taken to encourage graduate students and graduate programs to pursue external funding and to reward them for their successes?
B) Facilitation of the graduate student experience and ensuring program quality.
- What are the appropriate roles of the Graduate School and the colleges in guiding and managing student progress towards degree completion?
- Which essential record-keeping and oversight tasks should be done by the Graduate School and which by the colleges, and can these be managed more effectively?
- What process should be used to close weak graduate programs?
- Are the needs and activities of graduate students handled effectively and with genuine care? If not, what improvements should be made?
C) Graduate Program Enrollment Management.
- What are the trends and current practices in setting enrollment targets for U of M graduate programs?
- How should enrollment targets be set in the university’s various graduate programs?
- What should be the relative roles of the Graduate School and the colleges in making decisions about the size of individual programs?
- What are the appropriate metrics for determining enrollment targets? (e.g., number of research active faculty, post-graduate employment opportunities and placement success, undergraduate teaching needs, quantity and quality of applications, competitiveness with similar programs nationally, etc.)
D) Oversight of, and Advocacy for, the Visibility and Quality of Graduate Education.
- In light of the similarities and distinct differences between professional and graduate education, what is the appropriate role of the Graduate School with respect to oversight and advocacy?
- How can we facilitate understanding—on and off campus—of the central importance of graduate education to the university’s mission?
- What should the university do—and at what levels—to determine metrics and monitor the quality of the university’s graduate programs?
- What steps can we take to increase appropriate diversity in our graduate programs?
- What steps should be taken to highlight and celebrate the university’s high functioning and highly ranked graduate programs and graduate faculty?