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Task force issues report on improving graduate education

Competitive graduate student recruitment, a streamlined approval process for new graduate degrees and a new oversight and advisory structure are among the recommendations contained in a recent report from a faculty group concerned with graduate education at KU. The goal of the report is to strengthen graduate degree programs and coordinate the university's mission in graduate education.

The 13-member group, comprised of graduate faculty, was organized last fall by Sara Rosen, associate vice provost and dean of graduate studies. It was chaired by Susan Twombly, chair of educational leadership and policy studies, and was asked to help redefine the relationship between the graduate studies office and graduate programs in four key areas: administration of graduate education, program assessment, recruitment and student services.

In July, the Graduate School and the Office of Research were combined to form the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Steve Warren was named vice provost in January.

Specific recommendations include:

  • Create a policy oversight and advisory committee designed to facilitate the goal of promoting graduate degrees of the highest quality;
  • Facilitate an assessment and rethinking of the funding model for graduate students at KU to help provide competitive levels of funding for doctoral students;
  • Develop a streamlined, supportive process for approving new graduate degrees and reviewing major changes to existing degree programs;
  • Play a prominent role in gathering, interpreting and disseminating data on graduate students and programs;
  • Support a recruitment and application process that results in the recruitment of graduate students of the highest quality, including an online application and admission process and the coordination of various graduate recruitment activities;
  • Maintain current levels of student services programming and strengthen efforts like GTA training, a comprehensive Web site for current services, responsible conduct of research programming and provision of data about prominent trends in graduate education.

"The message of the task force was clear," said Rosen. "Strengthen graduate education at KU by working more closely with the graduate programs. The members have tremendous experience educating graduate students and developing degree programs. Their report is extremely valuable and will help us establish a new office with a new focus."

In addition to Twombly, other members were Tim Shaftel, professor of business; Kent Spreckelmeyer, professor of architecture and urban planning; Mary Anne Jordan, associate professor of design; Elizabeth Topp, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry; John Colombo, professor of psychology; Susan Kemper, the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Psychology; Arvin Agah, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Ann Schofield, professor of American studies; John Ferraro, professor of allied health; Rita Clifford, associate professor of nursing; and Allen Rawitch, vice chancellor for academic affairs, KU Medical Center. John Augusto, assistant dean of research and graduate studies, served in an ex-officio capacity.

For more information about the report, go to

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