AUSTIN, Texas—Researchers who conducted the groundbreaking online Grad School Survey will release their results during a panel discussion at The University of Texas at Austin on Nov 12. More than 6,500 students from across the country completed the survey. The results provide a ranking of 400 science and engineering departments based on their educational practices.
Vice President and Dean of Graduate Studies Teresa Sullivan has invited Geoff Davis and Peter Fiske, collaborators on the national survey of graduate students in the sciences, to interact with UT leaders on the implications of their findings and the steps UT already is taking to maximize graduate students’ professional options in the next century.
“We believe that the Grad School Survey has unearthed some important insights into the realities of graduate education from the student’s point of view,” Sullivan said. “Their findings underscore what we have suspected at UT and have been taking bold steps to address here on campus.”
Survey author Davis, a researcher at Microsoft Research and former Dartmouth College mathematics professor, believes UT is the ideal place to release their findings “because of the outstanding and innovative efforts the Graduate School has made in providing professional development opportunities to graduate students in all disciplines.” He added, “We are seeking to bring transparency and opportunity to graduate students — to augment a number of faculty- and administration-oriented surveys with the voice of the student. We’ve found a great deal to be proud of in graduate education — but also important areas that need improvement from the students’ perspective.” Davis received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the Courant Institute at NYU in 1994.
Co-author Fiske, a planetary scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has a Ph.D. from Stanford in geology. He also is author of To Boldly GoÃ A Practical Career Guide for Young Scientists.
The duo will unveil a similar survey under the direction of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS), aimed at students in the social sciences, arts and humanities — as well as the sciences — and will call for a policy change at the National Science Foundation to encourage universities to provide students with better information about the employment opportunities available to new Ph.D.s and about the time and costs involved in attaining a Ph.D.
A panel discussion moderated by Sullivan will follow release of the findings. Panelists will include UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner, Dean of Liberal Arts Richard Lariviere, Dean of Communication Ellen Wartella, Denise Gobert, a doctoral candidate in kinesiology and immediate past chair of the Graduate Student Assembly, and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Rick Cherwitz, who developed and directs the Graduate School Professional Development Program.
“Our aims for professional development are quite congruent with the Grad Survey,” Cherwitz explains. “We also seek to give students every possible tool to maximize their options and make the best decisions about departments, courses and careers. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these critical issues in higher education and look forward to their findings in the humanities.”
UT’s program is the only one of its kind in the country, offering a curriculum of courses designed to prepare graduate students for professional careers both inside and outside the academy. The curriculum grew out of a national program, Preparing Future Faculty, in which UT has participated for five years.
The event will be held on Nov. 12 in the Alfred Knopf room of the Flawn Center from 1 p.m. to 3 pm. Refreshments will be provided. Faculty and graduate students have been invited to attend. Complete survey results will be available after the event online @ www.phds.org.