Updates on Graduate Education

October 8, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

I write with a couple of updates on graduate education at the University: of the survey on graduate education and 2) the formation of the special committee on graduate education.

As you may recall, this past spring Vice Provost Henning Schroeder and I sent a survey to graduate students, faculty with graduate education responsibilities, and staff working with graduate students. In all, 17,712 people received the survey, and more than 1,100 people responded, sharing valuable information and perspectives on the University's current model of graduate education.

The survey data suggest that much is working well, but there are also some areas of concern. Perhaps not surprisingly, many survey responses and open-ended comments focus on the topics of program funding and support for graduate students. Please follow this link for graphs indicating patterns of response to the specific questions posed in the survey summary. The first four questions received the highest response levels; the graphs for those responses are presented by each respondent group (faculty, graduate students, deans, and staff). The remaining six questions are presented with aggregate data from all respondents.

Graduate School staff already are using the survey results as they plan programs and work with students, faculty, and administrators this year. In addition, information from the survey has informed the charge to the Special Committee on Graduate Education jointly appointed by the Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC) and me. The SCGE will reflect systematically on the reorganization of graduate education that took place three years ago and will help identify key issues during this period of strategic planning. This group, now beginning its work, will consider reports from Senate committees, along with survey data, to appraise what is working well in graduate education at the University and to identify areas that need further attention.

I thank all the members of the Special Committee, and I am especially grateful to Professor Scott Lanyon for agreeing to serve as chair of the committee. (Please see the list of committee members).

Shaped by the survey results, SCGE subcommittees will focus on four primary issues: 1) graduate student financing, 2) facilitation of the graduate student experience, 3) graduate program enrollment management, and 4) visibility and quality of graduate education.

In tandem with the work of the subcommittees, the committee as a whole will consider issues related to interdisciplinary and interdepartmental programs and to the organization of faculty governance for graduate education. The committee may also identify additional issues to address.

The committee is focusing primarily on programs offering Ph.D. research degrees, particularly those that the National Research Council has identified as central to its 1) results assessment of graduate education in the United States. FCC Chair Will Durfee and I have asked the SCGE to develop a focused set of recommendations and goals for graduate education, and, again, these will also be folded into the broader strategic planning process now beginning on the Twin Cities campus. The committee's report, which we expect by the end of the semester, will help guide planning for the next graduate student recruitment cycle.

I welcome your comments, suggestions, or questions, and I'm sure the committee does as well. Please contact me at provost@umn.edu or get in touch with a committee member. Thank you in advance for your input as we collaborate on this critical planning effort.


Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

This message was sent in October 2013 by the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost to select administrators and to faculty and staff systemwide with graduate education