On Thursday, November 10th, the Graduate Education for the Future Working Group, in conjunction with the Graduate Student Council, hosted an Open Forum in Room 002 of the Rockefeller Center. Designed to explain the Strategic Planning process to graduate students, the forum sought to solicit both student feedback on the Dartmouth graduate experience, and ideas about what should be included in the planning. The forum was attended by 21 graduate students and 7 working group members including faculty, staff and students, and was moderated by Brian Pogue, Dean of Graduate Studies.
At the Open Forum, working group members explained the goals of the Graduate Education for the Future Working Group, and updated the student attendees of the group’s progress. During fall term, the 28 faculty, administrative, and student members of the working group discussed graduate education at Dartmouth on a bi-monthly basis. The group also solicited feedback from both alumni and three hired consultants—Christine Ortiz, Dean of Graduate Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Peter Webber, Dean of the Graduate School at Brown University, and Lewis Siegel, former Vice Provost for Graduate Education & Dean of the Graduate School at Duke University. At the forum, working group members explained to the student attendees that this was the first time that they’d seen graduate education being discussed in such a deliberate, widespread manner at the institution.
Before splitting into three breakout groups—Graduate Academics & Programs, Graduate Student Experience, and Graduate Skills Development—working group members explained how the graduate programs were examining ways to strengthen both the research being conducted in Dartmouth’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs, and also the scholarship of the school’s masters programs in the liberal arts and humanities. They emphasized that the true value of graduate education is fostering a sense of leadership in students, which allows alumni to excel in the workplace, whether it be academia, the private sector, or government.
Group 1: Graduate Academics & Programs
-Working Group members: Prof. Scott Gerber (Genetics), Prof. Kristina Lynch (Physics), Dean Brian Pogue (Thayer)
-Students: Alex Bender (PEMM), Jennifer Davey (PEMM), Marcus Welker (EEB)
Group 1 complied a list of traits that they felt both masters and doctoral graduates from Dartmouth should exhibit in fifteen years, after the effects of Strategic Planning had taken hold. The students and faculty in Group 1 thought that graduate alumni should exhibit an unmatched breadth of knowledge within their discipline, and think both independently and creatively. The breakout group also felt that alumni should be able to utilize the skills they developed at Dartmouth in order to acquire new knowledge, identify pressing issues in their field, and finally, to solve the problems that they’ve identified.
Group 1 also felt that the academic climate of Dartmouth could be strengthened by increasing the postdoctoral presence on campus. The breakout members felt that Dartmouth’s postdocs significantly contribute to the research and scholarship of the school, and that by strengthening the postdoctoral culture on campus, the whole institution would benefit.
Finally, Group 1 felt that all of Dartmouth’s STEM graduate programs would benefit from more “journal club” style classes: writing-oriented courses which teach students how to effectively communicate their research with others outside of their academic fields. While many programs already use this style, it was recognized as being an attractive model for graduate education in general.
Group 2: Graduate Student Experience
-Working Group members: Kerry Landers (Assist. Dean, Graduate Studies Office)
-Students: Nathan Bullock (Comp. Lit), Thea Calitri-Martin (MALS), Katie Kinnaird (Math), Erin O’Flaherty (MALS), Wesley Whitaker (MALS), Yash Patankar (MCB)
Group 2 felt that the Graduate Education for the Future Working Group should focus on increasing the cohesiveness of the Dartmouth community as a whole, and that a key step in this process is to increase overall campus awareness of the graduate community. In addition to initiatives like including graduate students in on campus activities such as convocation, outdoor programs, and athletics. Group 2 also felt that the Dartmouth community needs to be strengthened by building a student center for graduate students, and by increasing the number of affordable housing units for graduate students within walking distance of campus.
Finally, Group 2 felt that in the future, Dartmouth should establish a relationship with its graduate and postdoctoral community that mirrors the relationship between an employer and either a client or employee.
Group 3: Graduate Skills Development
-Working Group members: Prof. Alex Hartov (Thayer), Prof. George O’Toole (Micro/Immuno)
-Students: Amanda Balboni (PEMM), Julia Bradley-Cook (EEB), Kyle Cady (MCB), Kurt Dahlstrom (MCB), Gary Heussler (MCB), Maryna Marchanka (MALS), Kiel Telesford (MCB)
Group 3 focused on improving the professional training of Dartmouth’s graduate students by utilizing both internal resources and pre-existing program structures more effectively. The members of Group 3 felt that the professional training programs implemented through Strategic Planning should borrow some elements from Thayer’s model of professional training, where there is a Profession Skills Workshop which is mandatory and runs for an entire term. They also felt that the community courses offered by Tuck—the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN), for example—should be increased. In the future, Group 3 felt that the academic relationship between the business school and Dartmouth’s Arts & Sciences Graduate Programs should be strengthened.
Finally, Group 3 felt that a graduate-student-specific career fair would not only create networking and recruitment opportunities, but would also improve the school’s pre-existing professional development and training programs.