The following e-mail was sent to Graduate School students, staff and faculty on February 9.
The move to “[reconfigure] from a free-standing administrative unit to which all graduate programs directly report, to an Office of Graduate Education within the Provost’s Office that parallels the Office of Undergraduate Education” was announced in an email from the Provost E. Thomas Sullivan dated February 9. Another February 9 email from U of M President Robert Bruininks described severe budget cuts to the U of M, amounting to a permanent reduction in state funding of $78 million per year. The TC Daily Planet invites readers to comment and to send further information.
Related articles: U of M slashes spending, disbands grad school administration, from Minnesota Daily
FROM: E. Thomas Sullivan, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
RE: Restructuring the Oversight and Support of Graduate
Education to Enhance Excellence
I write to share with you a plan for restructuring the oversight and support of graduate education to enhance excellence at the University of Minnesota.
The reputation of a research university is inextricably linked to the reputation of its graduate programs. Excellent graduate programs enable a university to recruit and retain talented faculty and outstanding graduate students and affect its ability to secure external support to advance the research that leads to scientific, artistic, and scholarly breakthroughs.
Against this backdrop, the University of Minnesota, along with universities worldwide, needs to prepare to meet new and significant fiscal challenges. To meet these fiscal challenges while at the same time enhancing the University’s excellence and international reputation requires that we become even smarter about the way we conduct our business. I believe, along with all of the collegiate deans, that we can approach the oversight and support of graduate education in a way that is more effective and efficient–in a way that better enables graduate programs to thrive and to excel, in a way that conserves resources that can be captured and redistributed to provide additional direct support of graduate education and graduate students, and in a way that promotes excellence in graduate education.
Under our plan, the Graduate School will be reconfigured from a free-standing administrative unit to which all graduate programs directly report, to an Office of Graduate Education within the Provost’s Office that parallels the Office of Undergraduate Education. The Office of Graduate Education will be responsible for oversight, coordination, and leadership on issues related to graduate education, but ultimate responsibility and accountability for the quality of individual graduate programs will reside appropriately with the collegiate deans and the faculty. This model of collegiate responsibility and leadership with oversight and advocacy in the Provost’s Office has been extremely effective over the past decade in greatly improving the quality of undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota. This model also is similar to the more decentralized models that Stanford University, MIT, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania employ for oversight of graduate education.
The specific details of the reconfiguration of responsibilities for graduate education have yet to be worked out. Within the next week I will appoint an implementation team to provide by April 10, 2009, recommendations regarding the specific reassignment of functions and responsibilities. The team will include collegiate deans, experienced directors of graduate studies, graduate students, and faculty. By July 1, 2009, the new Office of Graduate Education reporting lines will be effective, and by fall semester 2010, the entire new organizational structure, based on the recommendations of the implementation team, should be fully in place.
I invite you to review this important plan to enhance graduate education, along with a “questions and answers” document, at http://www.academic.umn.edu/provost/documents/GradSchlReorgreport.pdf and http://www.academic.umn.edu/provost/documents/GradSchlReorgQA.pdf. If you have thoughts about this plan or suggestions regarding its implementation, please share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.