Grad programs’ role explored

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    The university is evaluating its graduate programs to determine whether to recruit more graduate students or start new doctorate-granting programs.

    A committee from Chancellor Victor Boschini’s Vision in Action program, a long-term strategic planning program, is looking into the role of graduate education at TCU.

    William Koehler, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said he would like to see an increase in the number of doctorate-seeking students.

    “We want to have more graduate students, and we want the quality to remain high,” he said.

    Having more graduate programs would help attract students as well, Koehler said.

    “It may have a positive impact on recruiting graduate students,” he said.

    Adding graduate programs could impact TCU’s standing in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The Carnegie Classification was first published in 1973, and separated doctorate-granting institutions into four categories: Research Universities I and II, and Doctoral Universities I and II. Research institutions were categorized by the number of doctoral degrees awarded, as well as the amount of federal funding received.

    However, these categories were condensed into two sets for the 2000 classification: Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive and Doctoral/Research Universities-Intensive; the former category awards more graduate degrees. The change was made after the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching decided federal funding was not an adequate indication of research activity.

    TCU is currently classified as a Doctoral/Research University-Intensive, along with 109 other institutions. Of the 110 faculty research schools, 44 are private schools. This means TCU fits into a category of schools that, during the period analyzed, awarded at least 20 doctoral degrees per year.

    The categories are not intended as tools for measuring university quality, Boschini said.

    “The classifications themselves were never meant to establish a hierarchy of schools,” he said.

    The 2000 Carnegie Classification categorizes institutions based on their performance from fall of 1995 through spring of 1998. The next classification report is due in 2005.

    “As chancellor I would say that we are currently classified correctly — and, for that, I am happy,” Boschini said.

    If TCU decided to place more emphasis on graduate education, the university could possibly move up to the category that offers more graduate degrees. Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive award 50 or more doctoral degrees per year across 15 or more disciplines. Private universities comprise 49 of 151 of these nationwide.

    In the past, TCU has not been interested changing categories, Koehler said.

    “It would be a total change in culture,” he said. “But I don’t want the past to dictate the future.”

    TCU currently offers Ph.D. degrees in areas including English, history, physics, psychology, chemistry, pastoral theology and Biblical interpretation.

    Becoming a Doctorate/Research University-Extensive school would require TCU to make dramatic changes, Koehler said.

    TCU now promotes the teacher/scholar model, in which faculty do research as well as teach. The university would change to promoting the scholar model, with a focus on student research, Koehler said. Student and faculty-conducted research is expensive and would require more lab facilities, as well as grants to fund projects.

    “There would have to be an infusion of enormous sums of money,” he said.

    TCU’s fact book lists a group of 15 universities, which TCU calls its peer group. Of these schools, 11 are Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive. Two are ranked as Doctoral/Research-Intensive, and two are Master’s Colleges and Universities I.

    “I personally do not think that our Carnegie category has much to do at all with how we ‘compete’ with other institutions,” Boschini said.

    Increasing graduate programs would benefit undergraduates as well as graduate students, said Sherrie Reynolds, director of graduate studies for the School of Education. Having more graduate programs would help attract faculty, she said.

    “What a graduate presence does is bring in (faculty) specialists in a certain area,” she said. “That’s exciting for undergraduates to learn from those people.”