Sept. 10, 2007
From staff reports
Ohio University has announced plans to establish a graduate college to emphasize the role of graduate education in the university's academic mission and assist in the attainment of Vision OHIO and University System of Ohio objectives.
The move comes in response to recommendations from such sources as Graduate Council, the academic deans and Vision OHIO's Graduate Priorities and Executive Implementation teams. Beginning this quarter, Professor of Physics and Astronomy Sergio Ulloa will head a faculty team to develop the action plan for establishing the new academic unit.
Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl informed faculty, staff and graduate students of the developments in an e-mail distributed this morning. The college, expected to be fully operational by fall 2008, will be led by the vice president for research and creative activity, who will have the added title of dean of the graduate college.
"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. "The changes that I am announcing today are designed to facilitate stronger advocacy for these entities and to assist in the pursuit of the Vision OHIO goal of improving the quality and distinctiveness of the university in these areas."
Currently, the Office of Graduate Studies primarily functions as an academic support office. The graduate college will continue to provide academic support services, but also will assume the role of an academic college in performing such functions as clearing students for graduation. In addition, with the establishment of a graduate college, graduate students and graduate programs will have a dean at the academic leadership table representing them in institutional planning and advocating for support of graduate education.
"The Graduate Priorities Implementation Team made it clear that the graduate college should not usurp the core responsibilities that belong to schools and departments such as admissions decisions," Krendl said. "But faculty rightly want to put their energies into teaching and working with graduate students. The graduate college will help them do so by making sure that the necessary administrative tasks associated with graduate education are performed in a timely and effective fashion."
President Roderick McDavis said he endorses Krendl's decision to establish the graduate college and expand the role of the VP for research.
"On May 7, I announced a reorganization of our administrative structure in order to refocus our institution on our all-important academic mission," McDavis said. "Those changes included moving the Office of Research under Executive Vice President and Provost Krendl and asking her to work with the deans to further enhance Ohio University's research, scholarship and creative activity. This step is another positive change under Kathy's leadership, and I am very pleased to see it."
Krendl said the graduate college will absorb the current budget and staff of the Office of Graduate Studies. Additional funds needed to run the graduate college will result from replacing two high-level administrators -- the vice president for research and the associate provost for graduate studies (both currently filled by interim appointees) -- with a single administrator.
"Vision OHIO confirmed that the areas in which we excel in research and creative activity are also the areas in which we have the strongest graduate programs," Krendl said. "Given this characteristic of the university, it is important to have a leader capable of coordinating and integrating the two pursuits."
Krendl said the task force will be asked to develop a plan that takes advantage of the positives and avoids the pitfalls, especially increased bureaucracy, that the Graduate Priorities Implementation Team cautioned against.
"I believe that establishing a graduate college at Ohio University is a very important development in the history of the institution, and I am glad to participate in its formation," Ulloa said. The task force will work to complete the plan by the end of winter quarter 2008 so the graduate college can be in place by next fall.
Adding the graduate college deanship to the VP for research role is expected to make the position more attractive to prospective candidates, Krendl said. A search launched last spring for a successor to former Vice President for Research Jack Bantle was extended because of the timing and the size of the candidate pool. The departure of Associate Provost for Graduate Studies Michael Mumper added an additional leadership vacancy at the end of the year. Having both positions open at the same time offered the opportunity to rethink the position in light of the May reorganization that, among other changes, resulted in both positions reporting to the executive vice president and provost.
Krendl added that Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut expect the university to accentuate its strengths as it identifies its niche in the University System of Ohio. "In the future," she said, "the nature of the state support we receive for research, creative activity and graduate education will be defined in part by the clarity of our role in the new university system."