Committee releases report on Grad School restructuring

A committee charged with making recommendations for Graduate School restructuring released a report Friday that highlights 15 specific recommendations and leaves open the possibility that a more “streamlined” graduate college could remain intact. The reportâÄôs recommendations provide more options than the administrations original Feb. 2 proposal to change the school from a âÄúfree-standingâÄù administration to part of the ProvostâÄôs Office. âÄúThis is an impressive report, and the committee showed real courage and integrity in defending key graduate school functions,âÄù said Regents Professor Steven Ruggles, who previously had authored a letter to the Board of Regents asking to postpone the reconstruction. The Committee on Graduate Education, an 18-member team consisting of various professors, graduate students and administrators, states in the report that members are divided over whether graduate education should become an administrative unit parallel to the Office of Undergraduate Education or if it should remain a distinct academic unit. That academic unit would be called the Graduate College and would be a more flexible and streamlined version of the current Graduate School. Among the specific recommendations, the report states that the reformed Graduate College or Office could reduce staff by at least 20 percent. This recommendation was based on analysis of three similarly-sized schools: Illinois, Penn State and Wisconsin. Also garnering a lot of discussion was the handling of graduate fellowships and block grants. The report calls for a University-wide committee to convene in fall 2009 to handle these. The report goes on to say that graduate advising needs to improve and that the quality of graduate education should be measured and reported to the whole University. Further recommendations detail ways the University could streamline the school, which includes allowing some specialized degrees to be handled âÄúin-houseâÄù at other colleges on campus and not within the Graduate College or Office. Professor and College of Pharmacy Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Henning Schroeder, who is a committee member, said the team exchanged e-mails and phone calls up until 30 minutes before the report was released. âÄúThe product that came out is underwritten by everyone on the committee,âÄù Schroeder said. The committee, which Schroeder said thoroughly investigated weaknesses and strengths of the Graduate School system, started their work in late February and met eight times before April 17. The report is now open for public comment, and in an e-mail to faculty, staff and students, Senior Vice President and Provost Tom Sullivan asked those who are involved in graduate education to read the report and e-mail comments to the committee at [email protected] The committee will compile and forward all comments to Sullivan and University President Bob Bruininks for consideration. Sullivan could not be reached by press time. However, he did express in the e-mail that the decision will be made by himself and Bruininks after âÄúappropriate consultation.âÄù