Investments in graduate education announced; forums scheduled

Alumni Hall (Vanderbilt University)

Positioning the university on the cutting edge of graduate education in today’s fast-changing and dynamic professional world is the aim of new strategic investments announced today by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Wente.

“This is the beginning of a new era,” Wente noted. A key step will be the appointment of a new Graduate School dean, who will serve in this role independent of other administrative appointments and be charged to elevate and promote Vanderbilt’s position in doctoral education. The new dean also will implement a new vision for graduate education based on a series of recommendations made by the Graduate Education Study Group, appointed by Wente in September 2014.

The search committee is currently being assembled and will be charged just after Labor Day. Vice Provost for Academic and Strategic Affairs John Geer is currently serving as interim dean of the Graduate School.

Specific investments will be made this year to launch the Graduate School forward and support missions that include:

  • Serving as a key resource for all students enrolled in programs granting Graduate School degrees, and empowering all individual programs to address specific needs, requirements and excellence in the mentoring of students; and
  • Ensuring equity and excellence in both recruiting those with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and providing a supportive environment for academic success.

The investments will include expanding and enhancing career development resources and counseling services across the spectrum of disciplines, with an awareness of needs throughout the entire graduate training period, including postdoctoral trainees.

In early 2016, the Graduate School also will move to a new home in the recently renovated Alumni Hall. With increased campus visibility, the new space will be designed to facilitate graduate student access.

The provost also has charged Geer to conduct a 2015-16 comprehensive review of current graduate stipends, support and awards and to ensure that Vanderbilt is leading in best practices.

“Further strategic investments in graduate education are critical as we look to recruit the best graduate students and support them while they are here,” Wente said. “These investments will enable Vanderbilt to better prepare students to become tomorrow’s leaders in academia, industry, public service and beyond.

“I’m grateful for the study group’s thoughtful work and look forward to hearing additional faculty, student and staff input on the next steps and proposed directions,” Wente said.

To continue to advance conversations and future graduate education investment decisions, a series of forums is scheduled to gather faculty, staff and student input. Geer and Richard Willis, chair of the Faculty Senate, along with Graduate Education Study Group members will lead these forums and use the feedback to revise the full report accordingly for release by the end of the fall semester.

The executive summary of the Graduate Education Study Group’s report is available on the Academic Strategic Plan website.

The full schedule of forums is listed below. They are open to all members of the Vanderbilt community. The Oct. 14 forum will be specifically focused on gathering input from graduate students.

Sept. 9: noon-1 p.m., 210 Kissam Center

Sept. 24: 4-5 p.m., 204 Mayborn

Oct. 5: 4-5 p.m., Student Life Center Board of Trust Room

Forum for graduate students Oct. 14: noon-1 p.m. 202 Light Hall