Trustees approve new graduate school

by Noah Goldstein | 1/28/16 9:49pm

The College’s Board of Trustees approved a motion to establish the School of Graduate and Advanced Studies at a meeting in New York City on Wednesday. The motion was approved by the faculty in a November vote after it was raised in a town hall event in October.

The motion was based on the recommendations of a task force chaired by Dean of Graduate Studies Jon Kull, although not all of the recommendations were incorporated.

The new school will streamline administrative oversight of the over 800 Ph.D., M.S. and M.A. students at the College, in addition to about 200 postdoctoral students. There is no plan to increase the number of graduate students, nor is any large reallocation of resources planned, Kull said.

Consolidating the graduate programs and their administration into a school will also establish a central area for funding from new sources, according to a release by the College. The dean of SOGAS will be reporting directly to the provost.

Kull described the decision to create a new graduate school as a bold signal, adding that the formation of a graduate school demonstrated the College’s commitment to supporting the research conducted by faculty.

Kull said that the new graduate school will provide institutional support for post-doctoral students, in addition to being ideally situated to support programs that traverse departments and schools.

“Graduate students are already part of the Dartmouth community and they have been for a long time,” Kull said.

AnimakshiBhushan, a Ph.D. student in the Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems and Society graduate program, wrote in an email to The Dartmouth that she believes the new school will make it possible to incorporate a more efficient feedback and update process for the graduate programs. SOGASwould also provide a much needed platform for graduate students from various disciplines to come together and exchange ideas,Bhushan wrote.

The new school will strengthen the College as a whole without compromising the College’s undergraduate focus, Kull said.

“If you look at our peer groups, we’re compared to universities,” he said. “By acting like a university in this way, it will help us look like a stronger competitive institution among our peers.”

Molecular and cellular biology graduate student Erin Langdon said that since most universities have a separate graduate school, the recognition of graduate studies at Dartmouth as an entity is a positive change.

Langdon said that she does not expect or know about any major changes to come to her life as a graduate student, besides her degree denoting that she went to a graduate school.

For example, as the biology department is under the College, graduates’ degrees say that they went to Dartmouth College, she said.

SOGAS will be the College’s first new school since the establishment of the Tuck School of Business in 1900. It is expected to open July 1, 2016.

Faculty involved in Ph.D., M.A. and M.S. programs will still retain their affiliation with the different schools within the College and the graduate programs will retain connections with their departments.

A physical plant for the school will not be built, although administrators will be looking for options for a designated community area for the graduate students, according to the press release. The Council on Graduate Studies will still serve as an advisor, providing recommendations, reviewing proposed programs and certifying graduate degree candidates. The other graduate schools will continue to function normally and their deans will still remain in their positions.

Under the current structure, the graduate students — outside of those affiliated with Tuck, the Thayer School of Engineering and the Geisel School of Medicine — report to Dean of Faculty Michael Mastanduno.

College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in a statement to The Dartmouth that the SOGAS demonstrates Dartmouth’s commitment to research at the highest level. It will enhance the impact of current research enterprise, help attract the most talented students and faculty and promote collaborative, interdisciplinary efforts while maintaining Dartmouth’s high expectations for quality and excellence.

Alumna Julia Bradley-Cook GR’14 said that not being affiliated with a graduate university while doing research in an international context — she did her Ph.D. in Greenland — often led to awkward conversations in which it would be hard to convey the rigor of academic programming and the relationship between the graduate students and the College.

Bradley-Cook said that the change will also bring together the graduate students.

“Having a school that can unify the graduate student body as a whole means a lot for the students who are on campus,” Bradley-Cook said.

She said that she feels great about the announcement as a lot of graduate students do not feel recognized on campus and that creating SOGAS is a strong step in the right direction towards bringing them that recognition.

Joyce Lee contributed reporting on this story.