Graduate Education Restructured to Sharpen Educational, Marketing GoalsPosted Oct. 18, 2010
Graduate education at Kent State University faces unprecedented challenges and opportunities that require strategic rethinking of how we organize and administer it. The organizational structure of three graduate colleges: College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management; College and Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services; and Graduate Studies (encompassing the remaining seven academic colleges) has led to various standards and practices across graduate programs, as well as significant differences in the overall quality of graduate programs.
Kent State has made significant strides over the past year to reorganize and coordinate graduate education. The overarching aims have been to:
- Bring about coordination and consistency among graduate program policies and procedures;
- Provide focused marketing of graduate programs to external constituencies;
- Strengthen representation of and advocacy for graduate students and graduate programs in university planning and resource allocation; and
- Above all, to improve the quality of Kent State graduate programs.
Progress towards these goals is an ongoing process. Fall 2009 was spent gathering information from faculty, staff and graduate students about areas of graduate education that are working well and those that need improvement. In spring 2010, the Graduate Education Taskforce was formed. Its recommendations were guided by best practices published by the Council of Graduate Schools, an international organization of graduate school deans. This academic year, Graduate Studies will implement many of the recommendations made by the taskforce.
Many of the responsibilities that have traditionally been fulfilled by academic units will undergo no change. They include:
- Evaluating graduate applications and making decisions about which applicants to accept or reject;
- Marketing and recruitment at program level;
- Academic advising and monitoring student progress;
- Approving student thesis and dissertation committees; and
- Setting criteria for graduate faculty status and evaluating faculty in terms of these criteria.
Changes that will occur include moving the coordination of graduate applications at Kent State. All domestic applications will be submitted to the Division of Graduate Studies where electronic files will be built and complete files will be sent electronically to schools and departments for admissions decisions. Graduate Studies will not evaluate the quality of applicants nor will it make decisions about acceptance or rejection of applications.
In addition, College of Business Administration applications have been moved to Graduate Studies. College of Education, Health and Human Services applications will be transitioned next spring. All international applications will continue to be submitted to the Office of International Affairs.
Revisions to the graduate application process will enable Graduate Studies to provide some new or enhanced services, including:
- Marketing at the university level for Kent State graduate programs in general;
- A new marketing and recruitment software system that allows for rapid contact of individuals who visit our graduate websites to welcome them and provide additional information and if desired, personal contact; and
- Workshops and training sessions.
A university's reputation depends heavily on the quality of its faculty research and in turn, the quality of faculty research depends heavily on the quality of its graduate students. Graduate students also play a key role in facilitating quality classroom, laboratory and experiential education for undergraduates. The re-organization of graduate education at Kent State will benefit the university in many ways; enhancing the university's reputation as a graduate degree granting institution, attracting a larger pool of academically select and diverse applicants that complete their graduate education at Kent State, and ultimately, to produce master's degree students and doctoral-trained individuals who can contribute to a rapidly changing knowledge economy and to find ways to improve the quality of life for all citizens.