By Linda Lockhart
Nearly everything is in place for the new Ohio University Graduate College to begin operations this fall.
The Board of Trustees voted in April to officially establish the unit. A Graduate College Task Force report, submitted to Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl earlier this month, recommended an organizational structure, mission statement, functions and goals. And a dean to head the college begins work July 1.
The new college, the 11th at the university, will provide a centralized infrastructure to advocate for, monitor and support graduate programs. The proposal for it grew from recommendations during the Vision OHIO strategic planning process, and last fall, Krendl announced plans to have it in operation by fall 2008.
"The clear message from (several) recommending bodies, including faculty, staff and students, was that the establishment of a graduate college was necessary to enhance the institution's competitiveness in graduate education and to create greater visibility and clarity regarding the role of graduate education at Ohio University," Krendl said at the time.
The vice president for research and creative activities, a position that has been expanded to include the role of dean of the graduate college, will lead the new unit, which will absorb the staff and budget of the Office of Graduate Studies. Rathindra Bose, currently vice president for research and dean of the graduate school at Northern Illinois University, will serve in the position.
"Much has happened since we began the process of recruiting a new vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the graduate college," Krendl said. "The university has launched a Centers of Excellence review of graduate and professional education and developed the Five Year Vision Ohio Implementation Plan in which the graduate college plays an important role.
"Dr. Bose has had extensive experience in the role of graduate dean," she added, "and I look forward to having his insights and ideas on shaping a unit that is critical to the future of the institution."
Professor of Physics and Astronomy Sergio Ulloa, co-chair of the Graduate College Task Force, said that while much authority still will rest within the academic colleges, bringing graduate studies and research activities together under one leader will help keep the two areas in sync. It also will provide an avenue for greater advocacy for graduate studies.
"Grad studies interests will be independently represented at the Council of Deans," Ulloa said, "and the dean will be identifiably the advocate for graduate students and programs across campus."
In preparing recommendations for the college's organization and functions, the task force gathered input from individuals and groups across the university, including associate deans for research, the Graduate Council, University Curriculum Council, Faculty Senate and the Council of Chairs and Directors.
"We could make our recommendations with almost general consensus, which we believe is important for the success of the new college," Ulloa said. "It was clear at the outset that the various groups did not want an all-powerful dean who would have no input from the faculty, and we believe our recommendation achieves a balance between this general sense and the need for the dean to be able to have influence in the various processes."
The task force recommends the dean have a close relationship with Graduate Council, which would serve in an advisory capacity on administrative decisions and be the ultimate authority on curricular and programmatic matters. The designation of graduate faculty status would reside within individual departments and schools, with the graduate college dean being informed of the criteria used. The report calls for an associate graduate dean to be appointed to oversee operation of the college.
The group also suggests the graduate college dean ensure that program review timelines are followed. The college would work with academic units to facilitate development and implementation of new graduate programs and maintain the current system of graduation clearance, with recommendations for graduation made by the appropriate individual within each college. The graduate dean would have the final signoff in clearing applicants for graduation.
Recognizing the intellectual impact of graduate students on the undergraduate environment, the task force included recommendations regarding collaboration between the two levels of programs across the institution. The group suggests the new college identify and document best practices in offering graduate programs at locations other than a main campus and promote the availability of established graduate programs on regional campuses.
This will not be Ohio University's first graduate college. President Herman James established one in 1936 as part of a large-scale academic reorganization. It was dissolved in the late 1970s during President Charles Ping's administration in an attempt to improve graduate education through decentralization. Deans of degree-granting colleges were given ultimate responsibility for their graduate programs, and an associate provost for graduate and research programs was expected to focus on securing external funding and collaborating with the deans to nurture existing programs and build the foundation for new ones.
"One thing we learned was that the (previous) grad college was felt as an imposition and as unreachable from the faculty point of view," Ulloa said. "Our task force felt it was important for the new structure to be as open as possible."
Krendl praised the work of the Graduate College Task Force, saying members were thorough and responsive. "As a consequence, they have created a document around which further substantive conversations can take place," she said. "I have asked Dr. Bose to begin his work at Ohio University by using the report as a springboard for discussions with colleges about the structure and function of the graduate college."
Ulloa chaired the nine-member Graduate College Task Force. Other members were Dominic Barbato, president of Graduate Student Senate; Mia Consalvo, associate director of graduate studies and associate professor in media arts and studies; Kenneth Cutright, associate dean and professor in management systems; Andrew Escobedo, associate professor and director of graduate studies in English; Dana Levitt, associate professor in counseling and higher education; Tootie Overby, director of the School of Physical Therapy; and Michael Prudich, professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Katherine Tadlock, interim associate provost for graduate studies, was an ex-officio member.
The group's full report is available on the Executive Vice President and Provost Web site.
Updated at 2:24 p.m. May 29, 2008, to correct the Graduate College Task Force roster.