Restructuring the Oversight and Support of Graduate Education to Enhance Excellence


Questions and Answers about the Plan

What is the purpose of this plan?

The restructuring is designed to enhance the excellence of graduate education at the University of Minnesota by increasing support of graduate students; creating a more effective and efficient administration of graduate education; eliminating duplication of effort and responsibility; clarifying authority, responsibility; and decision making, and decentralizing authority and resources where local control would be most effective.

What is the new organizational structure?

The Graduate School will be reconfigured from a free-standing administrative unit to an Office of Graduate Education within the Provost’s Office that parallels the Office of Undergraduate Education. The Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education will be responsible for oversight, coordination, and leadership of issues related to graduate education.

Who is responsible for graduate education under this new model?

The graduate faculty and deans of the colleges that house graduate programs are responsible for the quality of graduate education. The Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education will provide oversight, coordination, and leadership associated with the University of Minnesota’s Ph.D. programs, approve change to Ph.D. programs, promote and facilitate the evolution of new interdisciplinary programs, advocate for graduate education, and monitor the quality of graduate education throughout the University.

How does this reorganization affect master’s, professional degrees, and applied doctoral programs?

Professional degrees, master’s programs, and applied doctoral programs outside the Academic Health Center will be the responsibility of collegiate units and campuses. For health professional programs, the current process in health sciences will continue. The Vice Provost of Graduate Education will review and recommend to the Provost action on proposals for new programs and changes to existing programs.

Are there any other top research universities configured in this fashion?

Yes. Most notably, Stanford University, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Chicago have successfully employed more decentralized models that parallel the University of Minnesota’s new structure for graduate education. Under this plan, and consistent with prior strategic positioning changes and reorganizations, the University of Minnesota will continue to be a leader among public research universities in employing innovative, efficiency-enhancing organizational change.

What happens to graduate fellowships that are currently administered by the Graduate School?

Funding for graduate students will increase as a result of cost-savings from this reorganization plan. Fellowships and block grants will be allocated by the Provost to the colleges as part of the compact process.

How will this plan protect interdisciplinary programs that cut across collegiate lines?

The Vice Provost of Graduate Education will work with the graduate faculty and deans of graduate programs to ensure the excellence of programs that span two or more colleges and to facilitate the interdisciplinary evolution of new programs.

How will this new structure help advance the diversity of graduate programs and provide support for graduate students from underrepresented groups?

The graduate faculty, directors of graduate study, deans, and Office of Equity and Diversity are all responsible for advancing the diversity of the University’s graduate programs and ensuring the success of graduate students from underrepresented groups. The Diversity of Views & Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship will continue as will the University’s commitment to ensuring student success.

How does this new structure advance Strategic Positioning?

The strategic goal to position the University of Minnesota as one of the top three public research universities depends crucially on world class graduate programs. The reputation of a research university is inextricably linked to the reputation of its graduate programs. Excellent graduate programs enable a university to recruit and retain talented faculty and outstanding graduate students and affect its ability to secure external support to advance the research that leads to scientific, artistic, and scholarly breakthroughs. The reorganization will enhance graduate education by providing a structure for oversight and support that will better enable programs to thrive and excel and by using existing fiscal resources to provide new and additional funds for investment in our graduate students and the excellence of our graduate programs.

How will the many details be worked out?

The Provost shortly will appoint an implementation team that includes representation of collegiate deans, experienced directors of graduate studies, graduate students, faculty, and the Provost’s Office to carefully work out the details of the reassignment of functions and responsibilities under the reorganization.

What’s the time line?

The Provost will ask that the implementation team provide its recommendations by April 10, 2009. The new reporting lines will be effective with FY10 and the entire reorganization of structure and duties fully implemented by the beginning of fall semester 2010. None of the changes will affect the application and recruitment of graduate students who matriculate in fall 2009.

Will this change drive work down to colleges and departments without additional resources?

The implementation team will work out which services can more effectively and efficiently be provided in a coordinated matter across the University and which are best provided locally, in order to reduce duplication of effort, eliminate ambiguities regarding responsibility and accountability, and increase effectiveness of services. Savings resulting from the reorganization should lead to a decrease in cost pool charges to collegiate units and should assist the colleges in the management of new responsibilities. Colleges and departments also should realize savings due to decreased transactions costs.

How much will this reorganization save?

The financial savings will depend on the details that are worked out by the implementation team.

Where will the saved money go?

Financial savings will be used for graduate fellowships, assistance to colleges to manage new graduate education responsibilities, and assistance in budget reduction.

Does this change affect the recruitment of the class entering in fall 2009?

No. None of the changes will affect the application and recruitment of graduate students who matriculate in fall 2009.

How does this change affect graduate students?

Graduate students will benefit from increased financial support (due to reallocation of savings resulting from the reorganization); decreased transaction costs; and improved quality of graduate programs.

How does this change affect graduate faculty and DGSs?

Graduate faculty, directors of graduate studies, and collegiate deans will have increased responsibility and control over their graduate programs; decreased transaction costs; and more resources for graduate student support.

Will this change affect the Graduate School’s commencement in Spring 2009?

No. The Graduate School’s spring 2009 commencement will take place as scheduled on Friday, May 8th.

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