2000 Conference: Town Meeting on Next Steps
Saturday, April 15th, 12:15 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
The Town Meeting on Next Steps was the culmination of the Re-envisioning the Ph.D. Conference. As a capstone event, its purpose was to build on the momentum of one-and-a-half-days of panels, cases, small groups and cross-sector discussions that had been designed to bring together conference participants from diverse sectors -- research intensive universities; comprehensive and doctoral universities, liberal arts and community colleges; K-12 education; doctoral students; business and industry; foundations; government; disciplinary societies; educational associations; and accrediting agencies (review or download the
Conference Program). The goal was to establish collectively the beginnings of a national agenda on doctoral education. For the Town Meeting, panelists were asked to prepare individual, concise statements on what they believed to be the single most important next step that needs to be taken to improve doctoral education. What follows is a transcript of the session, chaired by Robert Weisbuch, President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
You are encouraged to read the transcript in its entirety by scrolling down, or you may click on any segment below.
Earl Lewis, U. of Michigan
Bruce Finlayson, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Debra Stewart, Council of Graduate Schools
Sadie Bragg, Borough of Manhattan Community College
Michael Teitelbaum, Sloan Foundation
Michael Gottesman, National Institutes of Health
Wyn Jennings, National Science Foundation
Sarita Brown, White House Committee on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
Joel Shulman, Procter & Gamble
George Walker, Indiana University
John Yopp, Educational Testing Service
William Plater, Indiana University-Purdue University
Andy Griffin, Office of State Public Instruction, Washington
Debbie Davis, UC Irvine
Bettina Woodford [Grant Project Manager, University of Washington]. I want to welcome you all to today's lunch panel and Town Meeting on "Next Steps." By way of introduction, I wanted to relate a story about something that happened to me while I was here at the Conference. After a discussion I had on Thursday night, the first night of the Conference, I was asked a question, "So what's going to happen next?" And, of course, I assumed that this individual, and I think I assumed correctly, meant, "What are the next steps after the Conference?" and not necessarily, "what is the next session, where am I going, and why am I not on the list?" (Laughter.)
Friday morning I decided not to continue giving my own answers to what is going to happen next, because that is the question on everybody's mind, and everybody here has a very strong, passionate, well-thought out sense of what they think ought to happen next. So I decided that the proper response to anybody else who asked me was to return the question: "What is it that you want to happen? What do you believe is the most important thing to happen next? Who have you told in the last session that you were in? And in the following sessions, who are you going to partner with and who else are you going to look for to get that message across?"
And that is what we are here to do today: We are here asking ourselves, "what steps are we going to take next?" The person who is going to facilitate a collective response from all of us, and particularly from a number of distinguished panelists that we have asked to speak, is Bob Weisbuch, President of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and chair of this session. He will guide the panelists through a series of very brief, but I am sure very passionate and exciting statements, and then we will open it up for audience discussion. So, with that, I'd like to welcome Bob. Why don't you come up and get everyone started? (Applause.)
Bob Weisbuch [President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation]. You don't know how lucky you are, because I am going to facilitate rather than speak today. (Laughter.) Here's how we are going to work this session. Clearly, there is no way that a two-day conference can result in a fully developed, national agenda which we can then take up, but itcan lead to the beginning of the establishment of an agenda, whether it is one agenda, or several; whether it gets facilitated in a unified way, or through several sites. That's what we are after in this conversation, to try to move forward in a way that allows for a beginning rather than an end. What matters is what happens next. We've had a lot of talk, but the judgment on our effort here in Seattle will be on the next year or two when we see whether the talk (and whether) the data, and whether everything that we've traded with each other at this meeting leads beyond talk into a round that makes doctoral education better for students, for faculty, and for all the segments of our society.
I asked each panelist who is speaking today to say what very specific issue each of them finds most compelling of all those discussed at this conference. Which aspect of doctoral education each person most wishes to develop in their own work and what each person feels needs to be accomplished and can be done by themselves and by others in that regard. In other words: key issue, desiderata, strategy. I asked them to be brief, to focus, and to say what matters most to them. And, I thank them all for participating.
Earl Lewis [Vice Provost and Dean, University of Michigan]. First, an informational piece. Some of you asked about a guidebook that we reference, that we produced at the University of Michigan. I just had some Fed-exed. And so we have extra copies of mentoring handbooks, one is a guidebook for graduate students, and a second one is a guidebook for faculty. So if you'd like copies, and we have it on the web, but if you'd like hard copies, Mark, who is standing there, actually has copies in the back.
If I were to isolate one issue, it falls under the question of how we deal with scalability--what we've been talking about over the last couple of days really does have implications for the local level, but also across institutions. So if we can think about scalability, what piece can we take away from this particular exercise today, and I would think there are large or sort of cross-institutional issues that will require a lot of coordination; but there are things that can be done on a local level, that we can start implementing right away. And if I were to isolate one of many that are on my list, let me just suggest one, I think one thing we can do at the local level in producing Ph.D.s at all of our institutions is to actually make more aspects of the doctoral process more transparent to graduate students and to faculty as well.
It has been our experience, and we did a recent study of doctoral programs in our College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts, that so little of it is truly transparent. We looked at all the documentation that was available on the web, in printed brochures, according to folk culture, and what was most amazing was the number of empty cells when we lined all of this up. And I think if we can go back and talk to our colleagues and work with the different programs and departments to try to fill in some of those empty cell, we will begin then to deal with one sort of part of this larger scale, which is a larger, the institution of graduate and doctoral education, and I think that would be my suggestion for a first step.
Debra Stewart [President-elect, Council of Graduate Schools]. It seems to me the single most important thing that we can do as we go forward is take seriously the need to build process improvement into the ordinary operation of doctoral programs at our research universities. There are things that we are doing now that are quite good in doctoral education. It's also true that there have been lots of innovations over the last several years, and some effort at diffusing those innovations. The PFF program would be a good example.
But it's also true that, as Lee (Shulman) pointed out this morning, excellence in doctoral education means technical excellence, it means communicative excellence, and it means collaboration excellence, the capacity to collaborate and to communicate.
And, in fact, all three of these are domain specific. As long as they are domain specific, to be effective what we have to do is develop effective strategies for process improvement at the doctoral level with the foot soldiers being our faculty. Now, of course, the problem is when we present to our faculty the need to do anything more than they are doing now, it's basically like asking someone who is running to tie their shoes while running. That's essentially what it is. What can a graduate school do in that context? As the incoming President of the Council of Graduate Schools, it is extraordinarily important for me to listen and figure out how we can play in an important way in this discussion.
Graduate deans have historically been very good at requiring faculty to wear shoes, but when it comes to tying shoes while running, we haven't had much to say. Our real job as we go forward, I think, is to recognize that the reality is we do have to tie our shoes while running and we've got to figure out how to do it. This is a problem like any other problem, and it's fundamentally, in my judgment, a process improvement problem. I think it's our task at the Council of Graduate Schools to figure out how, recognizing that there are lots of different races going on, lots of different domains, to help folks tie those shoes while running. Thanks.
Michael Teitelbaum [Program Director, Sloan Foundation]. I'm thinking about tying my shoes while running, and I don't think I know how to do that, but I agree that process needs to be looked at. But, the one thing that I would focus on is to scrutinize carefully the existing incentives and rewards that are built into the system that we are addressing; and to, when we find incentive and rewards that we think are counterproductive or contrary to our goals, to seek to re-balance them. I assume that all faculty members and administrators are ethical, well-intentioned people, and that they are rational. You will find contrary views, unfortunately, among many graduate students and post-docs, but the decisions faculty have to make are based not only on the values they would like to serve but also on the real world in which they are dealing. And the current incentives that they face, and the rewards they deal with, were not planned or designed by anybody.
Nobody thought them through and said, here is what we want&emdash;we want to get to the following destination, and we are going to put in place the following rewards and incentives. They just evolved over time from multiple directions by instrumentalities that had conflicting goals, and then at the focal point is the faculty member or the administrator who has got to deal with these conflicting goals. To give you some examples: The federal/state research funding scene is a set of incentives and rewards that has all kinds of effects; nobody has really planned to have those effects on Ph.D. education. The NRC rankings have effects. All of you have, or many of you have mentioned those. And even the U.S. News and World Report's process, which I find quite mysterious, has all kinds of rewards and incentives built into it.
In general, these things would lead people, responding rationally, within the value system they operate in, to try to increase, at least, or not to reduce the size and number of their Ph.D. programs; to staff research grants with the lowest cost research workers; to staff large undergraduate courses with the lowest cost education workers while the faculty obtain release time from research grants; and to hire faculty who are research stars by promising them very high financial rewards and a minimal amount of teaching obligations. That's the kind of incentive structure people face and I think to the extent it's possible to deal with those, it would be worth addressing them.
Wyn Jennings [Program Director, National Science Foundation, Division of Graduate Education]. I manage a program, which is called Integrative Graduate Education Research and Teaching (IGERT). I think it's receiving some validation here and I appreciate that. I quickly want to say a couple of notes, and then propose some steps.
Note one is that, I think our assumption that disciplines track departments is not a valid assumption. Disciplines, while often centered in a department, expand far beyond the departmental boundaries and often reach naturally into several other departments. For example, mathematics is pervasive throughout the Unversity as is computer science and chemistry.
Note number two: I think a lot of us, including myself, think about training graduate students and about making the existing model better. I think what we really need is a variety of models and the production of a variety of differently prepared graduate students. And, if I can steal some of Joel (Shulman's) methodology in this T model [T stands for technical knowledge], I think we need a continuum of graduate students trained in which the width of that horizontal line varies. We will need very specialized people in the future and we will need some people with broadened capabilities.
Finally, I want to talk about the next step, in my opinion. When you talk to someone, a faculty member, graduate deans, and so on, and you ask them, How's your graduate program doing? Their answer is: "Fine. It could use a little tweaking here and there, but you know it is great." I believe that what is in their mind is, that the content is covered; the students who are coming in are fantastic; they are making them better; they are graduating and getting positions; and that's marvelous. But if you disaggregate the concept into the constituent pieces of graduate education and ask them, How are you doing on diversity or your underrepresented group? "Well, we could probably do a little better. Maybe we could do a lot better." How are you doing on building collaborative skills and teamwork skills into graduate education? Or, what are you giving your students that is going to help them become better teachers in the future? "Well, gee, in our institution they TA for a year, and that'll do it. And they know the material, so we are fine."
So, what I propose is that we not pose the overall question, but rather pose a disaggregated set of questions of educational entities. I want to use the term educational entities rather than departments purposefully as we are going to see Ph.D.s from a variety of different sources that are not departments. I think we should pose a set of constituent questions on graduate education so that the departments, or the educational entities, or the faculty, can intercalate the answers into their present educational paradigm. If the will try to intercalate the answers to these constituent piece questions into their goals, they will have tangible feelings for where they might change their system.
Bob Weisbuch: Thank you very much. While Wyn (Jennings) talked about disaggregating the question so that we have real assessment, Earl (Lewis) spoke about providing information. Debra spoke about process and practice, and Michael (Teitelbaum) also spoke about incentives and rewards, and how those can be managed in order to create a better educational experience. Let's take those issues in themselves and have commentary from the audience who would like to speak to any of those issues.
Audience member: Just a follow up on the incentives and rewards. I am going to assume that any improvements in the incentives and rewards will also follow the carrot and stick application that there should be more of a realistic evaluation of how performance is improving. I think there has been too many things that we have discussed here that unfold problems in the system, and there is going to be a need for some, I'll call it purging, in addition to the incentives.
Bob Weisbuch: So it's not just a matter of assessment, it's a matter of creating consequence to those judgments. And of course, that's a real problem often for graduate deans who do not have salary power sometimes over the faculty that teaches graduate courses. So we have to, graduate deans have to, in a sense, invent their capacity to enforce their judgments.
Audience member: With respect to making graduate education more transparent to graduate students and to faculty&emdash;this is a fairly pedestrian suggestion&emdash;but at Wisconsin, with 140+ graduate programs, a few years ago we looked at the terminology, the taxonomy for that set of events that occurs between a graduate student entering a Ph.D. program and becoming a dissertator. And I think we had 30 different terms and 60 distinct steps that were distinct enough that we said, well, those are really different. Now, great for diversity, but as far as being able to describe to graduate students what they have to do to become a dissertator, it's a bit of a disincentive. (Laughter.)
Audience member: Gerald Soffen [Director, University Programs, NASA]. Transparency. Very important. How about using 'doc.com'? Do it in the students' media. Don't do it in your media. You passed out paper. They don't read paper. They read the computers.
Audience member: Linda Lewis [Chair of the Doctoral Program Coordinating Committee, UW School of Nursing]. This comment is also in regard to transparency of information. We just implemented in the School of Nursing at the UW, what we have called the Ph.D. Web Student Lounge. It is a web page that is password protected. Only students, no faculty, no staff, and it's a place where students can interact, share information, and actually faculty can get in the act by emailing the student representative of the Ph.D. Committee who oversees that site. The second thing we have done in the School of Nursing is to create an intranet web site that will have all of the bulleted topics, that kind of systematic information, that we hope will relieve the burden on advisor and student as far as where they can get it, so that the faculty can really go about the work of mentoring, rather than just being an information sieve.
Bob Weisbuch: Let's go on to our next quartet. And I should mention that Andrew Griffin is taking the place of Terry Bergeson, who has not yet arrived back from Spokane.
Joel Shulman [Manager, External Relations, R&D Procter & Gamble]. It hasn't escaped my attention that among the fourteen panelists, I'm the only industrial representative. It also hasn't escaped my attention that if you integrate across all disciplines, about a third of Ph.D.s end up going into industry, and that's two-thirds or more for certain disciplines like chemistry or electrical engineering. So, as a representative of industry, I'd like to say first that I don't think the doctoral degree is broken. I think though, that it's a research intensive program, and that's exactly what it ought to be, but there is room for improvement. My publicist, Lee (Shulman), has talked about some of those this morning in his speech.
Not surprisingly, two of the areas that are important are the ability to communicate complex ideas to people outside of your field, and the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams to solve problems. I should add, parenthetically, I am not advocating producing interdisciplinary Ph.D.s. I'm advocating producing people who are deep but who can work with people outside of their area on an interdisciplinary team. So, how might you accomplish that? I would go back to the COSEPUP Report that half of us heard more detail about this morning from Phillip Griffiths. There is a section that addresses the issue. It says,"on the level of career skills, there is value in experiences that supply skills desired by both academic and non-academic employers." It goes on to say, "off campus internships in industry or government can lead to additional skills and exposure to authentic job situations." Very experiential for teaching, it's important to be taught how to teach and to experience teaching. For developing the kinds of skills that industry values, it's important to have those kinds of opportunities that go beyond the depth of research that is so integral to the Ph.D.
John Yopp [Vice President, Graduate Education, Educational Testing Service]. I formerly spent many years as a graduate dean. In listening to the dialogue in the conference and even this morning, "information" and "transparency" keep coming up as what many of us see as a very great need in improving the doctoral experience; to look at the doctoral experience as a relationship that will allow the graduate student to be exposed to information again. First, to make a decision to come to a particular program, or a particular university, but also later to be exposed to the opportunities that are wider than the narrow disciplinary specialization of a major advisor. And that's really what we've been talking about.
We are in an information age, and so information shouldn't be a problem as much as it has been in the past. And we are also in an age of a different kind of student, graduate students, as our graduate student participants today, yesterday and day before have been reminding us. They are much more of a "consumer." They do inquire, they do seek information to effect this relationship with a major advisor, with a mentor, with perhaps a larger network that will help them understand the wider opportunities of graduate education. So we need to facilitate the information exchange to make that an effective relationship. That means widening the mentorship community for the graduate student. And it means widening the advice that the graduate student gets for these other occupational outcomes for that particular discipline. How do we do that? What structures are available for us to do that?
Well, one structure that I think is very moribund, among several pieces of the doctoral experience that are moribund, is the dissertation committee. If one looks at the reform of the dissertation committee, looks at the dissertation committee as more than the dissertation adviser, one where the student can select having the right information and the time to make that selection, the dissertation committee that allows a student to look at the outside, and perhaps to industry, to government, and dissertation advisors in this information age, in this electronic network, then we can connect in different ways, in other universities, government, industry, and so on to widen that particular network of advisors and empower the committee to do more than just have a single dissertation advisor making a decision and so much power. If we look at that particular structure, it does offer us an opportunity to allow the student to see much more, to experience much more, and also to provide conduits, if those advisors come from industry, for internships or from government, for government experience. So I hope that we look at structure as well: involvement of the faculty, and the two-way exchange of information. Remembering always that we have to have aninformation source for the faculty, the people who will mentor and advise those students, as well. So what information sources are we going to have coming to the faculty to make that relationship one based upon information, and to be an effective relationship?
Andy Griffin [Assistant Superintendent for Community Outreach, Office of State Public Instruction, Washington]. I am substituting for Terry Bergeson, who is our elected Superintendent. And every four years she has to run for her position. So this is the real world. If she doesn't get elected, I'll see you sometime, somewhere. (Laughter.) But for us, it's very simple. K-12 has to play a real role here. They have to be truly a partner. A partnerin the program. If you are going to be real, and we recognize a great deal of what is happening, then we have to have a doctorate in education so that people will know what is going on in education. There must be an alignment of your curriculum along with the real world's curriculum.
What is happening? We are increasing standards, standards that are requiring our students to know and be able to do a whole bunch of new things, so that when they get ready they can come into your colleges and universities. But, too often there is a disconnect. So often the folks don't know what's going on in graduate school, don't know what's going on in the real world, don't know that we are not connecting, that we are not working together. So we have to have some alignment. An alignment that says that the curriculum which your students are getting&emdash;they need to understand what our students, K-12 students, are going through. They need to understand the challenges of our teachers, our counselors, our principals, our superintendents. These folks should be natural recruiters of yours, recruitments where we, in turn, can say we are working together and that we have a partnership, not just in the university, but in our schools, in our central offices, in our counties, in our service districts, so that folks will understand that there is a connection, that there is a partnership, a true partnership, not one that is just research oriented, but one that's applied, one that we can say, the theory goes along with the practice.
Bruce Finlayson [President, AIChE]. I represent the American Institute of Chemical Engineers but please don't tell them because I haven't cleared any of my comments with them. (Laughter.) My message is very simple. Give the money to the students, not the professors. The reason I came to this conclusion a few years back is that I had heard what industry was telling us. I deal with the chemical sciences and chemistry and chemical engineering, and they were saying that the students first weren't good in some of the skills they needed. We just heard about that , so I won't enumerate them.
But, second, graduate students were also spending a long time in graduate school. And as I looked at this problem, I concluded that in terms of the fifth year of a five-year program, or the sixth and seventh year of a seven-year program, the value added is to the professor, not added to the student. And the reason is because the students are then able to do a lot of research, generate a lot of papers, and publish them and provide the basis for the next grant for the professor to support his or her next students, and also his or her summer salary. And so, my feeling was the only way to break this pattern is to let market forces work, and to let the students have some choice in who they work for. That could include, now, some of the things we have talked about today, because part of students' decisions about who to work for could include how much of these other aspects they are going to be able to get. And so, I think that to do this would be very hard because it would have to be done on a massive scale. In other words, it wouldn't work for just one agency to do it. You need the whole pool of students out there that the faculty are going to have to compete for. So, my vision is that the money go directly to the students, and I might call it a school voucher plan for Ph.D.s. (Laughter.)
Bob Weisbuch: I think we are going to stop right here and have some conversation. Bruce spoke to the issue of funding the students, and, in a way, spoke of what must really embarrass a research university, because we like to believe in research universities that education is fueled by research. And he is speaking about a situation where one might argue that the research in some ways is undercutting the education. Our other speakers all spoke about various forms of widening or ventilating graduate education, whether between industry and business, and about creating a greater kind of circulation between graduate education and the extra-academic world.
Whether it's about widening, as John spoke about, which had to do with the widening and deepening of information on all sides and giving people the capacity to make informed educational decisions that don't lead to specialization too early. I need to say to Andy, who talked about the need for profound partnerships between schools and scholars and faculty at both levels, that at Woodrow Wilson we are doing a grades 11 through 14 initiative lead by Bob Orill, who came to us from The College Board. This is really the first attempt to get the disciplines, and scholars in the disciplines, to face the major educational questions that teachers face every day, and that administrators face in the schools&emdash;it brings together teachers from both levels to work together in a way that we hope will be permanent and profound, rather than what most of these partnerships are which is temporary and disappointing, and marginalized.
We are also having a meeting May 15th at the Smithsonian to talk about the relation between research universities and high schools, especially urban high schools. And it's quite like this meeting&emdash;it brings together representatives from a number of sectors, and is sponsored by the CarnegieCorporation, by the Smithsonian, and by the Hewlett Foundation. Again, the hope is here to create a national agenda, just as we hope to do here today in graduate education. So, these are many issues that have been brought out by our last four speakers, and let's go to the floor for a few minutes.
Audience member: I'm Malaina Brown [PI, Doctoral Program Survey, NAGPS] and I'm addressing Bruce's remarks. Much of what we have talked about in some discussions here have been very science-modeled, and I'm all for giving the money to the students, but if my advisor doesn't have any money, I'm not going to get any money. So, I wondered how you would address that in the social sciences, the humanities, where the funding situation is very different.
Bruce Finlayson: Admittedly, there isn't as much money in the social sciences as there is in chemistry or physics. In fact, I know little about funding in the social sciences, so my idea is really focused on the chemical sciences. However, in any field, if the money went to the students, and they had the opportunity to choose a research advisor that was compatible with their goals and time schedule, then you would have market forces working to improve the match between professor and student. Now, the professor controls everything, and students may not get all the things they want from their education.
Audience member: This comment is directed as a follow-up on Joel's (Shulman) comment, because of my concerns about arts and humanities departments. One of the things that I didn't get a chance to do here, that I'd love to be able to follow up on, in light of discussions going on at the MLA, Modern Languages Association, is the connection between doctoral education specifically in the humanities and the arts and connection to business and industry. And so actually I think Woodrow Wilson Foundation is interested in that also, and I would just like to encourage us to keep that piece of the conversation going in some way.
Bob Weisbuch: We were able to create over 25 post-docs in corporations and non-profits this year. We are a little foundation. Every university can do this much more powerfully with its alumni groups. And Lee (Shulman), speaking about Joel (Shulman), said at one point, "he's a scholar at Procter & Gamble," and I long for the day when a humanities doctoral graduate can be a scholar at Procter & Gamble. I don't see that as a very far out idea. I think it can happen if we think profoundly instead of superficially about what people's abilities really are.
Audience member: My name is Kent Morrison (President, Walden University). Both Bruce (Finlayson) and John (Yopp) used the term "consumer" and I want to continue that for a moment. One of the constituencies, among the many we have addressed here in the last day and a half, is the student of the future. Not necessarily the student that we have in the room here now, or the students that we ourselves were at some point in the past. A number of factors are changing: Who it is that is out there wanting to do, and in fact, is determined to do doctoral degrees? I come from an institution that is perhaps unique in this room. We are graduate only. We are distance learning only, and we are not not-for-profit. And I can vouch for you that there is a market there for you. And excuse me if I use some terms that offend you. I may even go a little bit further than John or Bruce did and talk about "the customer." It is important, I think, for all of us to understand that these factors&emdash;part of them have to do with the professions, part of them have to do with the private and the public sectors of the economy, and some of them have to do with the individuals themselves. There are a very different group of folks out there growing up, being accomplished in their various professions and their various disciplines, who recognize the power and value of having a doctorate and using that in their own career and professional plans.
They are customers. They are discerning. They are achieved. They are focused. And if we are talking about resources in this country that have been squandered by doctoral degree-granting programs in the last 100 years, it's the person who is a little different. They are over thirty, or they are over thirty-five, and they may be in Cutbank, Montana. And, they may even have the notion, strange though it is, that it's worth paying for this degree themselves and they are willing to do that. If we are re-envisioning the doctorate, it seems to me probably very useful for us to also re-envision who the student, who the market, who the consumer of the future is. And it's not just for who is going to populate our graduate schools in the next 100 years, but the impact that those individuals can have in their communities, however we, or they, might define those communities. The power, the value, and the competency that will be added to them and to their effectiveness in their respective communities by seeking and obtaining the doctoral degree.
And they are there and they are not getting any smaller in number. The technology, the drive to quality that Debra was talking about in terms of process. The society is geared toward the customer. The society is geared toward quality. And, I think in terms of who a consumer is for doctoral education in the future, it would serve us well to remember who those individuals are that will be coming to us or somebody else, some other kind of institution, in the next several generations.
Bob Weisbuch: Thank you, that's very valuable and now I want to go to the final quintet if I can. And then we'll open up for a conversation about where we go directly from here. I don't mean home, I mean where we go metaphorically.
Sadie Bragg [Vice President, Borough of Manhattan Community College/The City University of New York and Past-President of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges]. I am representing another sector of higher education. Andy represented the K-12, and most of you have talked about the research institutions. I am going to talk a little bit about community colleges because that is the sector from which I come. The community colleges, as some of you have heard me say already, represent about fifty percent of the undergraduates in the United States. And many of our students are taught by your graduates, who often end up teaching at community colleges without knowing very much about what community colleges do. At my institution, we employ many Ph.D. candidates. Community colleges are often the forgotten sector of education. Most people don't understand what we do, how we do it, and what we are about. And, in fact, most people don't seek to find out.
Many of you have said to me throughout this discussion, "Oh, that's what you do. I know a little bit about community colleges but I don't know very much." Well, I think considering the data, the statistics on who are going to be the future students, I think we all must learn about the community college sector. I want to say that if I think of a single most important thing to leave you with, it is the fact that the community college sector must be an integral part of re-envisioning the Ph.D. Why is that? Well, as I said, we are the consumers and the receivers of the Ph.D.--they become our faculty. We are the people who know exactly what they must do when they come to us.
Often when students from your institutions arrive on our campus, they have the knowledge, the content knowledge, but they are not equipped to teach. They are not equipped to handle the students that we serve. They don't know the students that we serve. They don't know the students that we serve, and all of those issues are very important when you walk into a community college classroom. So I think it's very important that, as we re-envision the Ph.D., we pay attention to those issues. Some of the doctoral candidates have spoken to the fact that they don't know about the various avenues down which they can go. They are not told where they can get employment, when, in fact, there is a whole side of education that's seeking to have these very, very much have these Ph.D.s in our institutions. So I encourage you very much as you think about this, that we continue, that community colleges continue to be a part of this discussion, because we have much to offer. Thank you.
Michael Gottesman [Deputy Director, Intramural Research, National Institutes of Health]. I've been listening to the comments of the graduate students and the results of various surveys, and in considering the needs of government labs, industrial laboratories, and the academic sector, it seems clear to me that everyone is pretty much in agreement that we really do need to broaden the intellectual content of our Ph.D. programs to match the intellectual depth that our Ph.D. students are coming out with after completing their theses. We've heard lots of ideas about how to do this. Some that I think have caught my attention, are the ideas of having more than one advisor for a student; having two students collaborate together on a thesis project; and a variety of other approaches. In addition, I think Dr. Lee Shulman's comment this morning, about thinking about the Ph.D. as an apprenticeship system in terms of cycles of apprenticeship, and then analysis and re-apprenticeship over a several-year period.
I think there are ways to consider doing Ph.D.s, which perhaps don't even result in a thesis, that we might think about. These are somewhat radical. The bottom line here, though, is that in order for us to try out some of these ideas, we need to have innovative programs coming from the universities. We need faculty input in support of these innovations. We need encouragement from the funding agencies, the government agencies, and I mean more than just a willingness to look at these innovations, but an encouragement to submit applications for new ideas for graduate programs. And I would hope that one of the products of this meeting would, in fact, be the various agencies getting together and coming up with some ideas for how to encourage new approaches to graduate education. Eventually, we will need to evaluate these programs. They are experiments, and the evaluation will have to come partly from the funding agencies, and partly from the foundations that are involved in this process. So I think this would be a very concrete and perhaps useful product to come from the meeting.
Sarita Brown [Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans]. Besides having a very long title, I have delighted in being here because this reconnects me with work that I have left in the seven years that I've been in Washington, D.C.. And I've been thinking about what to say when so many very significant suggestions are already on the table, and beg to be implemented. I guess what I would want to add to the conversation is the fact that this process is an on-going one. What I would want to say is that so much of what's been recommended in the changes in the process of graduate education deals with the humanity, and the rare position that the academy holds in this country. We are still held in such high esteem. We are still the places where we send our young people to help shape their minds, their understanding of truth, their belief of the future.
And as we talk about this retooling of the doctoral program, I would look for the opportunity to take all of the ideas that speak to that rare role that the academy plays in making sure that we have a future generation that is able to provide not only the pathway to academic content, not only experience with pedagogy, but a real understanding of how, as a country, as a society, we move forward.
Jumping off my soap box, I would say that the only other thing I would add is the issue of intentionality. There have been countless suggestions offered today and yesterday that all of us have a means of implementing on Monday. So, I would hope that, in addition to waiting for the report from this conference, we walk out of here with a commitment for what it is that we are individually going to do. I can tell you that in my work we will connect to the discussion about the role of federal agencies, specifically in the President's Advisory Commission's final report; and that in terms of characterizing the importance of the doctoral program, not just for faculty roles, but for society in all, look for a final report and you'll see, or you'll hopefully read, an echo of this discussion.
George Walker [Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Indiana University]. Suppose you had a close friend who was chronically ill and had exhibited symptoms for a long time, had been to a doctor, and had not been able to have those symptoms relieved. Until now your friend had been able to cope with the symptoms, but now the situation was such that the symptoms were becoming so bad, and external circumstances were so different, that you were really worried. What would you do? Of course, you would try to get the best information and physical checkups for your friend that you could. The friend I'm talking about is really our present approach to educating Ph.D.'s, and this conference provides one example of information and a checkup.
Now, back to your friend. There could be some very established habits that were contributing to the elusive disease. Remember, you know only the symptoms. You really don't clearly know what the underlying "virus" is. There might be a need for internal medical intervention and external lifestyle changes.
Along these lines, there are two areas that I will stress in the future for improving the health of Ph.D. education. The internal one is to support and empower faculty and students who are interested in the Scholarship of Teaching. This will help the "patient" in direct and indirect ways. From an external point of view I can use my opportunities as chair of external accrediting committees that come around to our institutions every 10 years. In recent years, we have stressed assessment. To assess the internal work that you do, of course, you first have to understand what the challenges you face are, what sorts of things that you are dealing with, but that's only the first step. The next step is what you do about it. If I have anything to say about it, we'll take those things very seriously in looking at self-studies of universities. We'll look particularly at how Ph.D. programs are assessed and how, after gathering assessment information, it has been used to improve and change Ph.D. programs. And if institutions don't have or use assessment tools in their Ph.D. programs, instead of coming back in 10 years, we might come back sooner to help them develop best practices in the assessment area.
Bill Plater [Dean of Faculties, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis]. I'm a friend of George. But, all I want to say is that I am from a campus that is a campus of Indiana University, and we'll decide the friendship later. (Laughter.) The idea that I think I can contribute echoes a theme that has emerged here. We need to pay a great deal more attention to having more and more realistic information about the places where doctoral graduates actually work.
We've heard about this already from the industrial/business side. Sadie talked about it from the community college side. I would like to propose something very specific, building on the comments that Lee Shulman made what I would call a professional portfolio. Let me be very concrete: I hope that within the next six months someone, perhaps AAU or AAC&U, or Pew would convene the 25 largest doctoral granting institutions&emdash;with an equal number of those institutions that hire doctoral students, representing the broad range of institutions from community colleges through other doctoral granting institutions&emdash;and actually talk about what would be a professional portfolio. We should develop a template of the characteristics of people who would work successfully in these institutions.
Certainly the portfolio should contain information about teaching and research. I think we know how to do this very well already, but the portfolio also ought to contain information about such things as a doctoral candidate's ability to manage diversity, and I don't just mean gender and ethnicity, but I mean age, ability levels, international students, a wide range of attributes that comprise diversity. To pick up on some of the other themes that we heard: the portfolio should address candidates' ability to work in a collaborative environment; to understand and respect the work of others; to contribute to student learning whether they are serving as advisors, librarians or technologists. We should be able to say with reasonable particularity what it is that we expect doctorally prepared students to be able to do when they come to my kind of institution.
I think this portfolio would have the value of giving candidates and hiring institutions a kind of a road map of the territory, not a set of directions for how to get there, but a road map of the territory for doctoral students so that as they are going through their programs they would have some sense of what it is that they need to achieve for the receiving institutions, the hiring institutions. The portfolio would be a way of presenting evidence of what it is the students can actually do. And for the Ph.D. granting institutions, it would also be a way of their proclaiming and showing all of the wonderful things that I think many of the institutions are doing already. And, not coincidentally, this would also be a terrific foundation for many of the newly hired faculty to begin accumulating their dossiers for promotion and tenure that will occur six years later.
Debbie Davis [Immediate past-President, NAGPS]. I am a doctoral candidate at the University of California at Irvine. I have both the privilege and the challenge of being the last speaker. What I would like to emphasize is the importance of inviting, hearing, and valuing graduate student contributions to this discussion. I think it's a wonderful start to have graduate students here at the table, but it's not enough. One of the graduate students present mentioned to me that he has the feeling that grads have been talked about and around here, but it has been the exceptional conference participant, and we thank you all, that has actually spoken with graduate students. We the students, unfortunately, and fortunately in some cases, are the folks who are living these experiences. So we have an important perspective to offer.
We are the ones who are struggling with our faculty mentors, and we are the ones who are looking at the dismal job market. And so, though we may not have the academic expertise in a particular area, we have the actual experience to contribute. But actually, more importantly, we are the future of doctoral education. We are the ones who are going to take all of this information that we have collected here and implement it as we graduate and become the faculty members and the administrators, and the other community leaders, of the future. As graduate students, we can commit to continuing to seek opportunities to share our perspectives and ideas, and to redouble our efforts to be assertive and heard. But our efforts will only be successful if more of you invite, hear, and value our contributions.
Bob Weisbuch: Thanks to all the speakers. Sadie (Bragg) talked about the need for exposing doctoral students to the whole range of educational institutions and for a kind of versatile pedagogy. Michael (Gottesman) and Bill (Plater) picked up on that in some ways by suggesting that the 25 largest doctoral granting universities meet with the hirers of those graduates in a session; and, Bill, I should say that Woodrow Wilson committed to bringing such groups together in the next year and we will do so. (Applause.) Now that's a commitment, and I hope that there will be others. I need to say, and this relates actually to something that Sarita (Brown) stressed: We do need commitment.
We are at a point in this endeavor where the first stage is over. There won't be any follow-up unless people step forward and allow for there to be a planning grant of some kind that allows us to sharpen the issues, get back to you, create a list-serv over the next months and head toward an agenda or some notion of a home or homes for an initiative, so that we don't have to, every time someone has an idea, try to find the vehicle to distribute it and to make it happen. And surely we heard about Carnegie's interest in doctoral education this morning. We know that The College Board has an interest. Woodrow Wilson has an interest in helping with the next stage; and CGS will have an interest as well. But we do need some help in making this actually happen.
I will tell you that we are certainly hoping to be on a list-serv very soon with the participants and that this is truly the beginning. Surely all of the work, the enormous and magnificent work that has been done by this group, who took on a project that frankly, to me, looked utterly impossible. ALL of graduate and professional education? I mean, come on. (Applause.) They have done a remarkable job. There really has not been a conference of this kind before on graduate education, bringing together people from all of these different aspects of our culture to talk about this issue. And if we can't do something with this that matters a great deal, it will be an insult to the people who brought off something absolutely impossible!
And, I think the way we show our appreciation is not simply by applause, but really by each of us trying to figure out a way that we can contribute toward a unified effort, and find a way for the people who have been here and who have argued with each other, and gotten angry with each other on occasion&emdash;which is just right&emdash;to keep in contact. And the way we can do that is only technologically on a list-serv, but if we work toward some kind of agenda of issues, and an agenda that isn't about having another discussion, another report, and so on, but about heading toward action that's going to change lives and change our institutions, then I think these two days in Seattle will be something we are going to remember, not only with thanks to Jody (Nyquist), to Danny (Goroff), to Bettina (Woodford), and to the entire (conference) staff, but we are going to remember it with a kind of pride in ourselves, as well. And I think the opposite if we don't.
Let's take some more comments on this last set of issues.
Audience member: Rich Heyman [President, Graduate and Professional Student Senate, University of Washington]. Well, as someone who is at the University of Washington, I do want to commend Jody and all the staff at CIDR whom I have seen worked so hard on this. So, I just want to give them all another round of applause. (Applause.) But I do have some substantive comments as well, relating especially to what Michael Teitelbaum talked about in re-balancing incentives and rewards, which I think is a crucial fulcrum in this whole endeavor, because I think there are a number of things. The really important matter of transparency and process improvement which individual institutions can take on. But in terms of the incentives and reward system, and from what I have seen working with the administration at the University, it's very, very difficult for one institution to go out on a limb, to strike out in a new direction, because you risk the flight of the faculty to other institutions.
So it's going to take real courage on the parts of the research-intensive universities to get five or ten together to agree to strike out in a new direction. I think it can create incredible leadership in that community and really show the way forward. But one institution can't do it on its own because it risks the discipline of the rest of the institutions. And, I don't think that the foundations can do it for the institutions. They can set some benchmarks, and they can create some policies, but institutions really need to take the leadership role and show some real courage in striking out in new directions.
Jody Nyquist. Thank you very much. I want to say that the miracle happened folks. This was a miracle, to get people like you with your busy schedules to take time out, to focus in on the issues involved in doctoral education. We know we worked you hard, and we hope it was a satisfying professional experience for you.
You, many of whom I have talked to over the last two years, care and know a great deal about doctoral education. Those aspiring to the Ph.D. care a great deal about what they are doing, and about what their future is, and I think we absolutely have to get together, and to create the synergy among us so that other miracles can happen beyond our gathering here in Seattle.
This has been a collaborative effort, both intellectually and logistically, to get this conference to happen. So what I would like to do is take a minute to really thank the Advisory Board. I believe that the Advisory Board, who saw a possibility for a working conference instead of only conference speakers, really did design something that I hope has penetrated your own lives and will be an incentive to move on after this time. I want to thank also the case writers and the discussion leaders, Danny Goroff, and Bob Weisbuch. I want to thank the associate deans at the University of Washington for being a think tank, the keynoters, the chairs, the moderators, and I really do want to thank Marsha Landolt for providing the leadership and saying, yes, the Graduate School does want to do this and we will commit resources and support you in ways that we can. And I also to recognize again the unbelievable effort and help and planning of a million details provided by the CIDR staff, and I'd like to have them stand up right now and take a bow for what they really have done. (Applause.)
Next steps: You just received a handout, and I want to say one more thank you to the Woodrow Wilson staff for putting together this last handout of the kinds of conversations and next steps, possibly fundable projects that they have been hearing. Thank you goes to those of you who came with great ideas, very focused, concentrated kinds of effort. And, obviously, none of this could have happened without the grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. Because Pew had the vision to fund this is the only reason that we are all here. (Applause.) So thank you again for coming, thank you for your individual contributions, and I know we collaboratively have accomplished some very important things.