Committee focuses on improving graduate experience
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 01:09
A committee of administrators, faculty, staff and students across Tufts’ graduate schools will spend the coming months considering ways to improve the graduate student experience in Medford/Somerville, Boston and Grafton in preparation for a report to University President Anthony Monaco.
Monaco charged the committee’s 19 members with increasing opportunities for interdisciplinary study as well as strengthening resources that will prepare students for their future careers, according to Dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences Naomi Rosenberg.
“This is really about making sure students get the absolute best education they can get,” Rosenberg said. “It’s not to say that we’re not doing that already, it’s more to see how we can do better.”
The committee members represent the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, the School of Dental Medicine and the Graduate Programs at the School of Engineering.
Rosenberg, who chairs the committee, said the group expects to be ready to present its conclusions and suggestions to Monaco before Thanksgiving break.
The members were split into two subcommittees to explore in depth how the university can better serve its graduate students.
“We’ve discussed it from two perspectives,” Rosenberg said.
One subcommittee will focus on the ways students can benefit from a more interdisciplinary approach to graduate education.
“We’ve discussed it from the perspective of what kinds of policies the university should have in place to be sure that students who are training across schools or across departments have
the same amount of support as if they were in a traditional department,” Rosenberg said.
Emma Schneider, a Ph.D student in the GSAS and member of the first subcommittee, believes that better collaboration among Tufts’ graduate schools would encourage new ideas.
“Programming that would truly benefit students across the many schools at Tufts seems an important component to improving the overall sense of community and forming a cohesive graduate experience,” she said.
Rosenberg appointed Dean of the GSAS Lynne Pepall to head the second subcommittee, which will focus on career development for graduate students.
“[They have] been thinking about ways to provide students with all sorts of added confidence building and training that allows them to go out and seek a variety of career paths,” she said.
Pepall said she and the subcommittee’s members will initially focus on doctoral students and will later move on to master’s degree students.
“We’re focusing first on doctoral students, but we have many, many master’s students, so our work will be far from done,” she said.
Their ideas have so far included an initiative to help graduate students improve their communication and writing skills, Pepall said. The career subcommittee will also explore ways to integrate data management training into students’ curricula.
“It’s not just about finishing a thesis,” she said. “It’s important that our students are able to communicate the importance of their work on a variety of media.”
Because humanities students often pursue careers in education, Pepall said, training for the classroom is particularly important.
“[Students] need to be trained in pedagogy
so they can be excellent faculty members at other institutions,” Pepall said.
The committee’s suggestions on teacher training will supplement the efforts of Tufts’ Graduate Institute for Teaching (GIFT), a five-year-old cross-campus program for doctoral students interested in becoming educators, according to Pepall.
The committee has been open to hearing the perspectives of the students in the group, Schneider said.
“[They have] been very attentive to eliciting and considering student perspectives and priorities,” she said. “It has been fascinating to develop a better sense of how the development of Tufts progresses.”
Rosenberg said the committee has yet to finalize plans for their report, but the members remain open minded and are considering a number of ideas.