President announces decision on grad school restructuring

The majority of the Committee on Graduate Education’s recommendations will be implemented.
June 30, 2009

Editor's note: The statements in this story from Gail Dubrow, former vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, were from a released statement and did not include the entire statement. The story did not reflect this and it has since been corrected.

University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks announced his decision Friday on the restructuring of graduate education.
The Graduate School will retain its current name and reporting line to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost , the president’s report states.
This differs from the University’s announcement in February, which said the school would disband and reorganize into an Office of Graduate Education.
The president charged Provost Tom Sullivan with reducing administrative costs by $1 million over the next two years.
A vice provost and dean of graduate education will oversee the Graduate School. Sullivan appointed Tim Mulcahy , vice president for research, as interim vice provost and dean of graduate education. His term begins July 1.
“Many of the changes are intended to streamline operations and processes [and to] decentralize some of the functions to the collegiate level,” Mulcahy said.
He said some goals are increasing efficiency, avoiding redundancies and having alignments among colleges.
Gail Dubrow, former vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, resigned effective June 30.
In a statement, she said she shares the president’s and provost’s goal of achieving excellence and greater efficiency in graduate education but stepped down because the "strategy for getting there began to differ."
“During this transition, I hope we can keep the focus on students, who are under tremendous pressure, especially in the current economic climate,” she said.
Dubrow will be on administrative transitional leave during the 2009-10 year, serving as director of a national initiative, the Consortium on Fostering Interdisciplinary Inquiry. She plans to return to the University of Minnesota faculty in fall 2010.
A search for a permanent dean of graduate education will begin immediately. Bruininks stated in the report that he anticipates a final appointment to be made in the beginning or middle of the fall semester.
Graduate and Professional Student Assembly President Kristi Kremers , who was also a member of the Committee on Graduate Education — the group charged with making implementation recommendations in February, said the decision is a “step in the right direction.”
She said she’s glad President Bruininks agreed with most of the recommendations and is allowing more time for decisions to be made.
“It’s definitely an area where you can’t make swift changes and expect great results,” Kremers said.
Bruininks passed on many future decisions to the provost and dean of graduate education, including the hosting of commencement ceremonies.
Bruininks recommended the Graduate School discontinues hosting its commencement ceremonies, but the final decision lies with the provost and dean of graduate education.
Boyd Cothran , vice president of external relations for the Council of Graduate Students and member of the Committee on Graduate Education, said he’s glad the president upheld a majority of the committee’s recommendations but he questioned the disagreements.
For instance, the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs will be moved to the Office of the Vice President for Research — Tim Mulcahy — whereas the committee recommended it remains in the Graduate School, Cothran said.
Mulcahy said the change is logical because many members in his office have expertise in the area.
“I believe that postdoctoral education is a big part of research across campus, so having it aligned with our office in my mind makes a lot of sense,” he said.
The president’s report states that many of the changes will require further work over the next several months before long-term decisions are made.
The provost is charged with appointing working groups comprised of faculty, staff and students to improve services while reducing costs. The groups will submit initial recommendations to Provost Sullivan in December.
One of the groups will focus on an administrative redesign, which includes the decentralization of some master and professional degree programs to colleges and the Duluth campus, and the central administration of all Ph.D.s by the Graduate School, the president’s report states.
COGS President Mandy Stahre said she was also thankful the president supported most of the committee’s recommendations but had questions unanswered and was concerned with the level of communication between the University and its faculty, staff and students.
“There’s still a lot of questions about how a lot of this is going to be implemented,” she said. “And I still have questions about how is this going to improve graduate education.”

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