Provost makes new $5M annual investment to enhance doctoral education

The Graduate School, in partnership with deans across multiple schools, has launched an enhanced funding and support model for doctoral education as a result of Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver’s new $5 million annual investment in graduate education. The new model is the outcome of a yearlong project to collect and review data from constituents across the university.  

“These increased investments in graduate education are critical to advancing our bold innovation and discovery while also advancing Vanderbilt to a new level of global visibility and impact,” Raver said. “I am grateful to Vice Provost Christie-Mizell for his collaborative approach to this initiative, and for his taking into account the diverse strengths and priorities of many partners and programs across our One Vanderbilt community.”  

“Over an eight-month period, we met with the academic deans, associate deans for graduate education, graduate faculty from more than 50 doctoral programs, and graduate student leaders to determine the best structures and approaches for supporting doctoral students,” said André Christie-Mizell, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “Collaboration has been essential to this project; I want to thank our academic partners in each of the schools and colleges for their investment. The feedback the provost and I received has directly informed the priorities for enhancing doctoral education.”  

With the goal of catapulting Vanderbilt doctoral education to be the best in the world, these five funding supplements will promote discovery and collaboration, inspire scholarly excellence and augment student support structures. 

  • Incentivizing External Grants to Support Ph.D. Education: This supplement provides support for faculty in Ph.D. programs to bridge the gap between fellowship/grant support and enhanced stipends for doctoral students.  
  • Recognizing Scholarly Excellence Award: This award will recognize doctoral students who exhibit exceptional academic excellence in areas such as publications, awards, patents and other forms of national/international distinction. 
  • Provost Ph.D. Fellowships: This funding mechanism will help recruit highly qualified, diverse Ph.D. candidates by providing five years of financial support through a premium stipend to outstanding students. 
  • Interdisciplinary Programs Fund: This fund invests in cross-disciplinary scholarship and partnerships to support intellectual communities across Ph.D. disciplines and groundbreaking discovery.  
  • Support Services: This enhancement invests in necessary support services to enrich the student experience. 

John McLean, department chair and Stevenson Professor of Chemistry, who was recently named associate provost for doctoral education, will help lead the implementation of this new model. “The implementation of these supplements will propel doctoral education forward at Vanderbilt,” McLean said. “We have all the right elements in place to advance the next generation of exceptional scholars by leveraging our outstanding faculty, enhancing student research and scholarship, and recruiting highly qualified and diverse students.” 

In October, the Graduate School will begin rolling out the Incentivizing External Grants to Support Ph.D. Education supplement, which is designed to remove barriers for schools and departments seeking fellowship and grant funding.

“Our graduate faculty partners shared with us that they needed a solution to provide full support for doctoral students,” Christie-Mizell said. “This supplement encourages the active pursuit of external funding and creates more support for faculty discovery, research and creative endeavors.” 

The implementation of this funding supplement is being coordinated in close partnership with each school and college to address the unique needs and administrative structures in each area. The other new supplements will be launched later in the fall.