Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver and Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School André Christie-Mizell are launching enhancements to doctoral training, policies, student recruitment and experiences. These enhancements were inspired and informed by feedback and input that Raver and Christie-Mizell received from a listening tour with the leaders of graduate student organizations and faculty involved in more than 50 graduate programs.
The doctoral program enhancements are a next step in the six university initiatives Raver recently launched to advance research, graduate education and the university’s collaboration and partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Tiffiny Tung, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, and Bunmi Olatunji, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor and director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, were recently appointed associate provosts for doctoral programs to lead this effort.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to further the connections between faculty and students across Vanderbilt,” said John Geer, Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science. “Outstanding colleagues like Bunmi and Tiffiny will support the university’s mission to train the best scholars and help them succeed.”
Olatunji aims to accelerate and deepen collaboration across graduate school programs and policies. Initiatives include creating a more comprehensive campus integration for international students, clarifying the Responsible Conduct of Research policy, updating the transfer credits policy and evaluating the need for health insurance and short-term disability coverage for students, all topics raised during the listening tour.
“To build on the current strengths of the Graduate School, we must continue creating environments where students can thrive,” Olatunji said. “It is the core of our work as faculty members, and I am honored to serve in this capacity.”
In her new role, Tung works closely with the Graduate School and the associate deans in the colleges and schools to advocate for the best support systems for Ph.D. students and the faculty who train and mentor them. These goals range from increased stipends and more funding for Ph.D. research to generating clear expectations and support for Ph.D. students who are preparing for the professoriat and other careers requiring a Ph.D., topics that also came up frequently during the listening tour.
“Recruiting and mentoring top scholars is crucial for producing high-caliber Ph.D. scholar-researchers at Vanderbilt,” Tung said. “It is our goal to support scholars in securing impactful and fulfilling careers so that they can continue impacting society in innovative ways.”
Christie-Mizell noted that having seasoned faculty in these roles is key to the success of these initiatives.
“The Graduate School is growing, and as we grow we must continue fostering the sense of community for which our university is known,” Christie-Mizell said. “Bunmi and Tiffiny are two faculty members who know our students, and I have no doubt they will enhance the resources transforming the experience of our scholars.”