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Address to the Arts & Sciences Faculty

January 11, 2016

Agenda item number one is a motion about the proposed school of graduate and advanced studies.

The motion is moved that the faculty of arts and science recommend that the president asks the board of trustees to approve the establishment of a school of graduate and advanced studies as advised by the general faculty on November 16, 2015.

I’m going to take the liberty of speaking about this for a few minutes first, and for those of you who were at the November meeting of the general faculty, this will be repetitive – and I apologize for that – but I know some of you weren’t.

Just to do a little bit of history here – which predates me by quite a bit – as we learned at the General Faculty meeting, I think Brian Pope may have been the one who was talking about this – the actual concept and the idea of having a school of graduate and advanced studies goes back decades, actually, here. It was one of the recommendations of an external revue of graduate studies a few years ago. More recently it was recommended by two of the working groups in the strategic planning process. It’s one of the aspirations that I spoke to you about in my very first meeting of the general faculty in November of 2013. Provost Dever then, more recently, convened a task force which was headed by Jon Kull, who actually laid out more detail of what a school might look like and what it might aspire to do. Jon, I want to recognize you and your team and thank you for that great work.

The Arts and Sciences – this faculty – had an initial discussion of this in November, and then as mention, the general faculty discussed in its November 16th meeting – and approved by 174 to 9 – a motion that recommended to the individual faculties that they recommend to the president that the president recommend to the trustees the creation of a school of graduate and advanced studies.

As I mentioned when I first spoke to you two years ago – two and a half years ago almost – I fully endorse this creation of a school. I think it’s really important for Dartmouth. In part it’s based on what do I see as the future of graduate studies and postdoctoral studies here at Dartmouth. We currently boast about 1,000 graduate students who enroll in 17 PhD programs and 14 masters programs, as well as 250 post-docs on campus. I think this – the middle academic generation, in-between undergraduates and tenure/tenure-track faculty – they add a lot to our campus. They bring us energy, they bring us fresh ideas, they bring us bold thinking, academic urgency – they’re just starting their academic careers and they really want to make a difference. They help bridge academic generations between undergraduates and regular faculty. As we move forward, I don’t foresee a large expansion of these programs, that’s not what this is about. I do see some important principles here – one is that we should focus on quality rather than quantity. I do think we do need to upgrade the quality of these programs. We also do need to allow mechanisms for expansion – I think the new EEES program is a great example of what the future probably looks like. It’s highly interdisciplinary, it crosses between units. So as we think about mechanisms to support graduate studies and post-docs – but graduate programs in particular – we need to be thinking about mechanisms which can cross schools, which can cross departments. I think that Dartmouth can greatly benefit from high quality post-doctoral programs. The Society of Fellows, the Neukom Fellows, the International Relations post-doc give us ample testimony to what these young people can do in terms of bringing energy and excitement to our campus. We need some place that will actually nurture and support post-docs on campus.

The last principle I’ll state, very clearly – as we design financial support mechanisms and professional development opportunities for grad students and post-docs, Dartmouth must still continue to be a place where regular faculty do the preponderance of instruction for undergraduates. I have no interest in creating an environment where direct instruction of undergraduates is done in any large part by grad students and post-docs.

Given that vision that I see for graduate and advanced studies, why do I support a school for this so much? First of all, it sends a very powerful signal outside our campus, but also to grad students and post-docs on our campus that we really value and care deeply about these enterprises. That’s number one. Second, the school would create a very natural home for graduate programs which cross-disciplines – ones that may be between Geisel and Arts and Sciences or between Engineering and Arts and Sciences. This is a very natural home for that. Third, it will be a site on campus that can take responsibilities for the professional development and nurturing of our post-docs. That, right now, is something that somewhat falls between the cracks on our campus as it does at many campuses. Lastly, this change will alter an irrational organizational structure right now where the Office of Graduate Studies sits inside Arts and Sciences, whereas 40% of the graduate programs are administered by professional schools, which organizationally does not make sense. That’s not the most important reason – the first three are the most important reasons.

I strongly support the creation of a school of graduate and advance studies. It doesn’t have to follow the letter of the task force proposal, but there are certain important attributes of the school that I think are really key here. They are listed up here and included in your materials for today’s meeting, if you look at the last page. I think that’s what’s really important for you to keep in mind as you’re debating and advising on this.

Last Updated: 8/23/16