need to develop a broader curriculum . . . to better prepare
students for non-academic career paths.
--Bryan Noe, Director of the Graduate Division of Biological
and Biomedical Sciences.
the curriculum to prepare students for non-academic careers could
be a gross mistake.
--Pam Hall, Director of Graduate Studies in Women's Studies
tale of three Ph.D.s
findings on Emory graduate students
Finding someone with "a
clear vision of how to lead the graduate program into a new era,
when competition for students will be keener and refinement of
programs more important," was uppermost in the minds of
the committee that selected the new graduate dean, says Dobbs
Professor of Psychology and search committee member Elaine Walker.
In anthropology professor
and Graduate Institute for Liberal Arts chair Robert Paul, Walker
adds, the committee found a leader with just such a creative
vision and deep experience at Emory. "He comes into the
position knowing the assets and weaknesses of the graduate school
and its various programs."
Paul's charge especially emphasizes faculty scholarship. He is
expected to strengthen and sustain Emory's intellectual climate,
helping faculty anticipate multidisciplinary themes and questions
likely to influence schol-arship. Among his challenges are amplifying
faculty voices in graduate school governance, creating more direct
and effective links between the budget process and scholarship
(such as examining the ways stipend awards relate to the intellectual
agenda), and making such areas as computing, statistical services,
and grant-writing more effectively support faculty scholarship.
Intensified national debates on the future of graduate education,
however, will complicate Paul's task. These discussions place
doctoral training squarely at a crossroads. While it has always
been at the intersection of the academy's past and future, graduate
education today is in many ways a testing ground for the economic
and technological forces reshaping higher education. At stake
are assumptions about mentoring, traditional approaches to training,
and the role of graduate students in the university and larger
Growing national consensus,
surfacing recently in conferences and reports funded by the Pew
Charitable Trusts and the Associ-ation of American Universities,
reflects market-driven dissatisfaction with the state of graduate
education. For example, the conventional model of apprenticeship,
whereby faculty mentors groom doctoral students for research
careers like their own, is increasingly being called into question.
With a dwindling pool of academic jobs and an expanding economy
hungry for workers with advanced analytic and research skills,
universities are being urged to prepare Ph.D. candidates to communicate
and apply their skills in non-academic settings.
Yet across the country, the
lifelong academics who train graduate students face multiple
and complex dilemmas. Many feel ill-equipped to direct students
toward anything other than university life. The questions recur
do faculty mentors help doctoral students move into this transformed
job market? Is this even an appropriate role for graduate education?
Students and their mentors
also struggle to navigate a crowded intellectual landscape that
pulls students toward both interdisciplinary work and increasingly
narrow specialization early in their training. At the same time,
colleges and other institutions that hire new Ph.D.s primarily
to teach complain that fewer candidates have the skills to teach
a wide variety of courses to a wide variety of students.
Solutions proposed in the
national arena range from simply tinkering with the structures
of degrees to re-drawing the very boundaries between the university
and the larger culture. Suggestions include:
the master's degree
as a more applied program that might
steer some graduate students toward non-academic careers, while
preserving lines of graduate funding within departments;
a Ph.D. track in teaching geared
to better prepare candidates for the breadth and variety of teaching
needed for positions that emphasize teaching;
non-academic internships, "post-docs,"
and university-community projects that encourage graduate students
to make more connections beyond the academy during their doctoral
training (the Pew and Woodrow Wilson foundations already fund
several such programs).
KNOWLEDGE IN PRACTICAL REALMS
According to Provost Rebecca
Chopp's 1999 letter to faculty, helping faculty and graduate
students "assess careers outside of academia that are likely
to allow new scholars to apply theoretical knowledge to practical
realms" is part of her vision for "extending the scope
of the graduate school." Chopp also calls for continuing
the graduate school's traditional mission of training future
academics deeply in the established disciplines, while finding
ways to approach multidisciplinary questions.
Results of a recent survey of Emory graduate students suggest
the local impact of national trends. Three-quarters of the respondents
rated their academic experience as very good or excellent, 88
percent believe in the high caliber of their department's faculty,
and over two-thirds find faculty accessible and helpful. Roughly
two-thirds also said they consider their preparation for teaching
to be good to excellent.
Only 36 percent, however, have found faculty helpful in their
job search, inside or outside academia. And while half of the
respondents are considering careers outside the academy, only
23 percent say faculty have encouraged them to explore such opportunities.
Further, some 45 percent of the students seeking advice on careers
and life issues related to the profession were disappointed in
The concern voiced in national conversations about the relationship
of graduate education to the thriving information-based economy
is also echoed at Emory. The new dean acknowledges that the "noticeable
decline in applications in the last year or two" may reflect
the lure of today's economy. "College graduates stand a
fair chance of going out into the world with a start-up.com and
making a million dollars," Paul says. "Are we going
to be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest
to become researchers and teachers?"
Competition with a lucrative marketplace for stellar college
graduates is something "we have to face very aggressively"
argues Bryan Noe, Director of the Graduate Division of Biomedical
and Biological Sciences. Noe calls for broadening the curriculum
both to attract the brightest students who might be drawn into
the booming economy and to better enable them to re-enter that
larger workforce after graduate training, if they so choose.
Others worry about intensifying competition among graduate programs
for the best students. "It used to be that Emory could outbid
anyone," notes philosophy professor Pam Hall, Director of
Graduate Studies in Women's Studies. "That's no longer the
On top of these national dilemmas, some Emory faculty raise questions
particular to Emory's culture. How, for instance, will the dean
of the graduate school and the dean of the college (also dean
of the arts and sciences faculty) collaborate on critical decisions
that shape academic departments and define so much of the character
and success of graduate programs?
These issues will inevitably influence Paul's work in the coming
years. The bottom line, he says, is positioning the graduate
school "at the heart of Emory's mission" and seeing
it "taken seriously and with increased influence and autonomy
as the center and champion of research by faculty and graduate