Position of vice provost for graduate education approved

The university has accepted the Commission on Graduate Education's recommendation to create a position of vice provost for graduate education, President John Hennessy announced Thursday at the Faculty Senate meeting.

The university also has approved the development of three new pilot programs for graduate students that incorporate other recommendations from the 48-page commission report, which was delivered to administrators and faculty last month.

"In reviewing the recommendations of the Commission on Graduate Education, we rapidly determined that the recommendation to create the position of vice provost of graduate education was going to be crucial to try to launch many of the other efforts and initiatives that have been proposed in the report," Hennessy said. "Simply stated, there's enough work to do that we will require somebody who leads an office focused on that."

The creation of the position was one of the main recommendations outlined by the commission report to guide the reforms that the commission felt were essential to improving the graduate-student experience here. The three pilot programs also attempt to address some of the recommendations outlined by the commission. The programs will be developed by commission Co-Chair Mark Horowitz, the Yahoo! Founders Professor in the School of Engineering.

One program will focus on the issue of graduate-student diversity and will incorporate recommendations from the commission and other reports on the topic, Hennessy said.

A second program will create a Summer Institute where graduate students can take condensed courses on subjects that may be different from their field of study (similar to the existing Sophomore College program). Horowitz already has been meeting with various deans to solicit proposals for interim programs that could begin as early as this summer, Hennessy said.

The third program will focus on strengthening the mentoring relationships between advisers and their graduate students.

Bienenstock to assume new positionProvost John Etchemendy announced at the meeting that a committee would be formed to conduct a search for the vice provost for graduate education position and the soon-to-be vacated position of vice provost and dean of research and graduate policy, currently held by Professor Arthur Bienenstock. Bienenstock is stepping down from the position after three years but has agreed to fill the newly created position of special assistant to the president for federal research policy so that he can continue to represent the university on national-research issues such as export control, funding for sensitive research and intellectual property, Etchemendy said.

"The search will be a very similar kind of search," Etchemendy added. "We're looking for internal candidates, and the candidates that would be high on our list for one position ought also to be looked at for the other position."