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Continuing With His Policy of Openness and Transparency, OurProvost Makes Inside Higher Ed...

Coup at the U

From Inside Higher Ed:


(Grad) School’s Out


Provost Tom Sullivan has decided to dissolve the University of Minnesota’s graduate school, placing more power in the hands of individual deans and his own office.

“Clearly we have some redundancies and overlap requirements of our graduate students, and in this day and age there’s really no reason for that,? Sullivan said. “We need to be more nimble in how we recruit and admit and support those students.?


While the graduate school will cease to exist as a freestanding administrative unit, an Office of Graduate Education will be created within the provost’s office.

The graduate school at Minnesota is viewed by some faculty as an important centralized entity designed to help ensure that resources are distributed in service to the broader mission of the university — not just an individual department or college.

Minnesota officials cite as models several other distinguished universities, including Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania, where decentralization of the graduate school has been introduced. The “vast majority? of the Council of Graduate Schools’ member institutions, however, have stand-alone graduate schools, an official there said Wednesday.

A handbook produced by the national council also declares: “There should be a separate unit within the university that decides on or has veto power over admissions decisions, ensures that the policies set in place by the graduate faculty are being carried out, and has final degree-granting authority for all graduate degrees. This structure fosters equity in standards across all graduate programs, helps to provide quality control, and stimulates boundary-spanning curriculum development at the graduate level.?


Robin Brown, director of graduate studies for Minnesota’s Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, said that the graduate school has helped to ensure that resources are fairly distributed across departments.

“They are an equalizer, and source of equity and a source of balance,? he said.

Under the new model, deans will be making their cases for graduate school resources directly to the provost, as opposed to going through the graduate school.

“I’ll have much greater information,? he [Sullivan] said. “It will be decentralized where the deans can speak directly to the quality of his or her programs.?

Gail Dubrow, vice provost and dean of the graduate school, was not informed of the plan to dissolve the graduate school until shortly before the announcement was made public, according to several sources.

The decentralization is also expected to produce savings, which Sullivan says will be redirected into graduate programs for fellowships and other enhancements.

The restructuring of Minnesota’s graduate school, announced Monday, came as a surprise to many. Sullivan said he consulted deans prior to making the announcement, but several sources told Inside Higher Ed that Gail Dubrow, vice provost and dean of the graduate school, was not informed until just prior to a press release being issued.

Sullivan was tight-lipped, however, about how much — or how early — he consulted with Dubrow, whose role would clearly be diminished, if not eliminated, under the new arrangement.

“The dean was consulted before there were any public announcements,? he said. “I’m not going to get into the details of the conversation.?

Nor would Sullivan discuss whether Dubrow will have a new role in his office. “She and I’ve had a conversation about that, and I’m not going to disclose confidences that we’ve discussed,? he said.

Dubrow declined an interview request, saying Sullivan was the “spokesman? on the issue.

Dubrow wasn’t the only person who was apparently in the dark about the overhaul of graduate education at Minnesota. Graduate students said they were not consulted at all about the plan.

“We totally understand that there were structural changes that needed to be made and that’s been evident, but to go ahead and wipe out the grad school without consulting the community — it’s really shocking,? said Kristi Kremers, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly at Minnesota.



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