In Graduate School restructuring, a lack of transparency

Last week, Provost Tom Sullivan declared a âÄúrestructuringâÄù of graduate education by effectively annexing the Graduate School and bringing administrative decisions within the jurisdiction of his own office. Bracketing off questions regarding whether this move provides sound policy, Provost Sullivan should be resoundingly scorned for his utter lack of transparency and his unwillingness to first consult those most affected by this decision. Not only were many key actors in graduate education not involved in the decision-making process âÄî including those working for the Graduate School, graduate student organizations, and the graduate students themselves âÄî but most were completely unaware that such a measure was under consideration at all. As a result, rather than initiating a two-way discussion with graduate students about how to improve their experience at the University of Minnesota, these students have been met with a paternalistic public relations blitz about how this policy measure is in their best interest. Unfortunately, this lack of transparency and cooperation comes as no surprise. The UniversityâÄôs administration has, of late, made it painstakingly obvious that appeasing those at the bottom of the UniversityâÄôs totem pole (including laborers, graduate students, adjunct faculty, etc.) is not a top priority. The Bob Bruininks era, after all, has seen two labor strikes in less than five years. It is also currently sweeping under the rug a number of concerns from graduate assistants regarding rising fees, escalating workloads for teaching assistants and stagnant wages. It is of no coincidence that talk of transforming the University into a top-three public research institution is now a memory. The University is increasingly treating its graduate students like a cheap (but efficiently produced!) product. By emphasizing efficiency over quality and unilateral-but-well-marketed decisions over dialogue, we risk turning graduate education at the University into a bastion of mediocrity over excellence. Assuming the eradication of the Graduate School goes through as planned, it is imperative that Provost Sullivan realize that enhancing graduate education cannot take place without continued input from, and consultation with, the graduate student body. Like the rest of my fellow graduate students, I am hopeful that this restructuring will be of positive benefit, but I am profoundly disappointed in the manner in which this decision was made. Matt Hindman Graduate student