Major Challenges & Opportunities Facing the Faculty of Graduate Studies

It is important that quantitative projections be accompanied by a qualitative analysis of some of the major challenges and opportunities facing our Faculty of Graduate Studies as we enter the new millenium.

  • In the next few decades there will be an immense need to replace retiring academics across Canada and North America. A challenge for the University as a whole will be to replace our own retiring faculty with our fair share of the "best and the brightest" graduates. The competition for outstanding young academics will present Dalhousie's Graduate Programs with an unprecedented opportunity, not only to see our students secure academic appointments but also to put a Dalhousie "stamp" on Canadian academia. Our graduate programs can only produce outstanding graduates, however, if we have the raw material to work with, namely students who have outstanding potential. Recruiting such students is becoming more and more of a challenge.
    -> Individual programs and their researchers play the primary role in attracting students to consider applying to Dalhousie. Once they are admitted, however, it is crucial that we make competitive offers. To do so we must increase funding for graduate student scholarships. If I should become the next Dean, I pledge to work on several fronts in an effort to do so.

  • The Senate Review Committee was "surprised and disappointed to hear from so many dissatisfied stakeholders with so many complaints." The most serious threat to FGS came from a suggestion made by some discipline Deans that we do away with the FGS altogether. The review committee and our external consultants unanimously rejected this suggestion, and our report explained why "Dalhousie Requires a Faculty of Graduate a Studies." Nevertheless, there are problems and I hope the remedies can be generated within the FGS. Doing so without jeopardizing existing strengths will be an ongoing the challenge.
    -> An attitude change within FGS from gatekeeper to appraiser and facilitator is required. This must be accompanied by tension reduction, adaptation to diversity and cooperation. Cooperation, however, is very much a 2-way affair. I hope that the dissatisfied stakeholders will welcome the new Dean with an attitude change of their own.
    -> If I should become the next Dean, I will begin my deanship by learning first-hand what goes on in the diverse programs that fall under FGS's aegis. This is particularly important, but not restricted, to those professional programs housed in the Faculty of Management with which I am least familiar. From such exposure – understanding and better informed decisions will hopefully follow.

  • As the world changes, new areas of study are opened up and the demand for new kinds of professionals grows. Distance education (already used in some of our programs) will become more frequent and internet-based instruction will increase in importance. The University and its FGS must be able to adapt to change and must encourage interdisciplinarity.
    -> Technical innovation and an interdisciplinary mindset characterize my own research, teaching and scholarship, and I believe that I am not unique in this regard. Although our Faculty values innovative and interdisciplinary work, it has been suggested that the need for new, interdisciplinary programs is not being met rapidly enough. One possible strategy is to develop interdisciplinary programs which themselves are adaptable. Perhaps this will be more likely when fiscal disincentives to interdisciplinary intitiatives (e.g., ERBA) are overcome.

  • Graduate students are the principal responsibility of FGS and yet, as a group, they are relatively unaware of FGS. FGS must take steps to enhance its visibility with respect to our graduate students. Several ongoing initiatives aimed at graduate students are applauded by and should be actively assisted and co-sponsored by FGS
    -> If I should become the next Dean, I would work with: Alan Wright in producing teaching workshops aimed at graduate students; Eric McKee on bursaries for graduate students and the graduate student portfolio project; Carl Breckenridge on intellectual property guidelines that protect students interests while remaining flexible (a task that also requires the active involvement of the faculties where this is an issue); DAGS to improve the representation of graduate students in Senate and elsewhere, and to develop new, and support existing, initiatives (like the Dead Thesis Society).

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