Adam Baxter-Jones

Graduate studies review complete

After close to three years of campus-wide consultation, University Council has received a series of recommendations on the administration of graduate studies.

"I was tasked with answering two questions," explained Adam Baxter-Jones, interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research (CGSR). "Should graduate studies be central or decentralized, and if it's central should it be a college or an office?"

After meeting with countless faculty, staff and, of course, graduate students, and doing an external scan of structures at comparator U15 institutions, Baxter-Jones began formu­lating recommendations on what structure would best suit graduate students at the U of S.

"After two years of consul­tation, listening to everyone, we found a majority view on what is best for grad studies," explained Baxter-Jones, also a professor in the College of Kinesiology.

The feedback, Baxter-Jones said, resoundingly pointed to graduate student support and administration remaining in a centralized faculty, which is also the common structure found at U15 counterparts.

The consultation, he continued, also indicated that the "status quo is not accept­able. While we recognize that the current structure best suits the needs of our students, we also identified numerous procedures and processes that need to be improved."

Along with the recom­mendations to remain both centralized and a college, came a suggested name change to the College of Graduate and Post­doctoral Studies, a change that will be put forward for University Council approval at a later time.

"This highlights the increase in the number of post-doctoral fellows within the institution and the need to have policies and procedures for them," said Baxter-Jones, adding that while research is closely connected to graduate students, research intensity already falls within the mandate of the Office of the Vice-President Research.

Another recommendation relates to changing the title of the dean position to vice-provost graduate education and dean of the college in order to "reflect the fact that graduate student issues need to be discussed at the highest level to ensure grad students' points of view are heard.

Other recommendations listed in the report, Baxter-Jones explained, are "to improve effi­ciencies. We need to make sure that we reduce the amount of time it takes from application to admission; we have to be quick with decisions. We also need to make sure the admission process is linked with the delivery of scholarships and awards."

Baxter-Jones will now be working with the appropriate bodies to enact the recommenda­tions and stressed that "this is not status quo and changes occurring are to improve efficiencies. At the end of the day the majority of the people consulted wanted a central college. There were some who wanted a decentralized model, but that was a minority."

Another major task for the college is financial aid for graduate students, something that Baxter-Jones and Patti McDougall, vice-provost, teaching and learning, are looking at.

"We are working with PCIP (Provost's Committee on Inte­grated Planning) to start a discus­sion about how to best distribute the institution's financial commitment to grad students for scholarships and awards. We will use a consultative approach to make these decisions."

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