|VOLUME 20||THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE | GRADUATE SCHOOL||NUMBER 1|
A Tenure of Enhancing Graduate Education, Research, and Funding
This is not the first time that I have made remarks at the first meeting of the Graduate Faculty Council for the new academic year, but it will be my last.
As many of you know, I have been Dean since 1975 and for health reasons I have resigned effective August 1997. As I look back over the past 21 years, I am impressed with how much progress has been made in graduate programming and research at UWM. All of us who have worked in the Graduate School Administration hope that we have contributed in some small way to this progress.
One of the privileges of an outgoing administrator is the opportunity to reminisce a bit. I was appointed acting dean of the Graduate School in April 1975 at a time when there was a great deal of discussion about the role of the Graduate School at UWM. I guess one could say, "What goes around, comes around."
In 1975, I had just gotten initiated into the academic wars arena. I was the faculty member in charge of the proposal for a new Ph.D. program in chemistry. I can assure you that with less than five years of experience in academia, this was an eye-opening experience. In retrospect, it is clear that I have a certain set of biases regarding new program proposals because of that experience. I then served for two years as chair of the Chemistry Department. Being a department chair also provides one with a unique set of experiences. Your faculty colleagues see you as a faculty member doing battle with the administration. The administration sees you as an administrative associate doing battle with the faculty. At the time I was appointed acting dean, I was in my first year as associate dean in L&S. In that position, I was beginning to learn of the "turf" wars between the school/college deans and the graduate dean.
I mention these experiences because they had caused me to formulate those issues that I thought were important to the development of graduate education at UWM, and now as the new dean, I would have an opportunity to put a plan into action. I felt strongly that we needed to do whatever we could to help create a climate where the scholarly accomplishments of faculty and staff would be encouraged, recognized, and rewarded. I felt that we in the administration needed to minimize red tape, identify and remove barriers, and provide incentives. And I felt that I needed to assemble an administrative team dedicated to advancing graduate education and research. As I prepare to return to full-time faculty status, I am very satisfied with what has been accomplished these past 21 years. I feel there is a strong foundation on which to move into the 21st century.
I do want to mention one thing that has changed in the last twenty years. When I started as dean, it was self-evident to almost everyone I knew and worked with that for UWM to achieve its full potential, it had to develop its graduate programming and enhance its support for research. Today, of course, more and more people, from parents of undergraduates to state and federal legislators, seem to care less and less about graduate education and research. Yet, I remain convinced that a defining characteristic of a doctoral university like UWM is its commitment to graduate education and research. Whether we like it or not, participation in doctoral work automatically brings with it national scrutiny.
The Carnegie Commission rankings are based on standards for graduate education. The recent rankings by the National Research Council focused on the "research doctorate." I could list other rankings that are based on graduate education and research. But the point I want to make is that we as a nation still evaluate and distinguish universities on the basis of the research they do. We are driven by these national rankings in recruiting faculty. These rankings determine how we compete with other universities for students. And surprisingly, these rankings also correlate rather well with a whole host of other factors, such as extramural funding, endowments, Nobel Prize winners, distinguished faculty and alumni, and on and on. I suspect many of you used these rankings in choosing a university for your own graduate work or where you sent your own children to college.
On a personal note, when I was seeking out a doctor to help me battle a life-threatening disease, I surely wanted someone who had been trained at a research university and who is active in research. So the challenge for the future is to keep UWM's reputation growing and to find ways to make those individuals who today criticize graduate education and research recognize that when they make a personal decision to seek out the best academic minds, their search will be guided most likely by research reputations. It is still my belief that everyone benefits when doctoral universities maintain and increase their capacity for research.
Let me just take a few minutes to summarize what I think have been some of the major achievements in graduate education and research for UWM over the past 20 years. At the top of the list must be achieving a Research II ranking by the Carnegie Commission. This ranking recognizes that we have set high standards at the doctoral level. It signals to our external constituencies that these standards are the standards for all other aspects of the university, from the type of faculty recruited to our service activities in the community. And maybe more importantly, these standards ensure the value and integrity of all of the degrees, graduate and undergraduate, which we award.
The past 20 years produced an unparalleled growth in graduate programs, probably a growth that never will be repeated. Since 1975, 8 doctoral and 11 master's degree programs were developed by faculty committees, reviewed and approved by the GFC, and ultimately approved by the UW System Board of Regents:
Biological Sciences [Ph.D.]
Foreign Language and Literature [MA]
Urban Planning [MUP]
Mass Communication [MA]
Urban Studies [Ph.D.]
Management Science [Ph.D.]
Performing Arts [MFA]
Criminal Justice [MS]
Computer Science [MS]
Human Kinetics [MS]
Industrial and Labor Relations [MILR]
Public Administration [MPA]
Occupational Therapy [MS]
These programs were in response to the needs of the citizens of Milwaukee and Wisconsin. They built the foundation for UWM's advancement as a doctoral university. Today, we have awarded over 20,000 master's degrees and over 1,200 doctoral degrees. The successes of our graduates are evident across all segments of the Milwaukee community. In addition, all of us know of the achievements of one or more of our graduates who have left the Milwaukee area.
I am particularly proud of our efforts with regard to the recruitment and support of minority graduate students. Through the collective efforts of many individuals in the Graduate School, we have put in place a multifaceted program to bring UWM's message to under-represented potential students from across the country. We also have been successful in obtaining grants for programs such as the Harris and McNair scholarships which effectively feed supported minority students into graduate study.
From my perspective, probably the most satisfying accomplishment has been the success of the faculty and staff in attracting extramural funding. Extramural research funding has increased over 500 percent, from $2.1 million in 1975 to nearly $13 million today. Sponsored research now accounts for 43 percent of total external funding and provides much-needed funding to support faculty and staff research efforts. The Research Incentive Program was an effort we started over 10 years ago to help faculty prepare competitive proposals. The Centers of Excellence serve as models for fostering interdisciplinary research. And with the financial support of the UWM Foundation, we have been able to recognize and reward via the Graduate School research awards significant accomplishments in research and scholarship.
I have expressed my personal vision for the future in our planning documents. I have identified five priorities where I believe the Graduate School and the GFC should focus our attention. I cannot speak for my successor, but I would hope that he/she also would see these areas as important:
Priority #1. Reaffirm and strengthen the central role of the Graduate Faculty Council (GFC) in setting policy for graduate education.
Priority #2. Increase the Graduate School's services to current and prospective graduate students.
Priority #3. Utilize new information technologies in facilitating student access, reducing dependence on paper processes, disseminating information, and streamlining procedural mechanisms.
Priority #4. Improve capabilities to provide guidance and understanding of trends and issues critical to graduate education and research (time-to-degree, enrollment projections, program rankings, program profiles, research expenditures, indirect cost projections, use of 101-4 funds, etc.) by purposefully collecting, analyzing, and sharing accessible data with graduate programs and campus administration.
Priority #5. Facilitate and promote institutional progress on achieving the goals and objectives articulated in campus Research Plans.
George W. Keulks
Dean of the Graduate School and Research