Campus News

Faculty Symposium focuses on methods of improving graduate education at UGA

Faculty and administrators gathered to tackle the issue of “Transforming Graduate Education at the University of Georgia” at the UGA Teaching Academy’s 25th annual Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium in late March.

Josef Broder, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and organizer of the symposium, set the stage by underscoring the success of UGA’s undergraduate experience over the past several years and outlining the need to focus on improving the graduate educational experience. Then the group heard from a faculty member and an administrator.

Steven Stice, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, gave the keynote address on integrating cutting-edge, multidisciplinary research accomplishments for graduate students into a range of educational endeavors.

Michelle Garfield Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer, spoke about diversity in graduate education and the role that faculty play in providing opportunities for graduate students through mentoring, assistantships and other relevant experiences.

Preliminary recommendations from five panel discussions included developing a mentoring and professional development program and an awards program to recognize outstanding graduate students; integrating active learning strategies into pedagogy; removing barriers to graduate education by creating interdisciplinary programs aligned with student learning needs; and incentivizing mentorships and providing support for networking.

Provost Pamela Whitten urged faculty to create exciting learning opportunities outside the classroom that are tailored to the individual goals of the graduate students.

“We must have a willingness to acknowledge our responsibility as faculty to attract top-notch graduate students, integrate an amazing learning experience with research and investigate interdisciplinary programs,” Whitten said. “We need to think about how we can create exceptional experiences for our graduate students.”