Our CID team
Strikwerda, Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
and Professor of History, wrote the proposal that earned the University
of Kansas History Department a place in the CID. The department
established a special committee for its participation. Carl Strikweerda
chaired the original team, and Eve Levin, his co-chair, carried on
after he left to become dean at the College of William and Mary.
Team members:Bob Blackstone, PhD student, US Luis Corteguera, associate professor, EuropeGreg Cushman, assistant professor, environmentJerry Frank, PhD student, USMegan Greene, assistant professor, ChinaErnest Jenkins, assistant professor, medieval Eve Levin, professor, Russian/East EuropeEmily Lowrance-Floyd, MA student, BritainKrystle Perkins, PhD student, medievalBecky Robinson, PhD student, USTony Rosenthal, associate professor, Latin AmericaSteve Sodergren, PhD student, US, military Carl Strikwerda, professor, modern EuropeTed Wilson, professor, US, military, international Karenbeth Zacharias, PhD student, BritainDon Worster, professor, US, environmental
CID team benefits from the broad diversity of its members. Faculty
committee members represent all ranks (full, associate, and assistant
professors), and a wide range of temporal, thematic, and geographical
fields. The granduate student members represent all stages of the
degree program, from MA to ABD. In addition, the team members come from
diverse backgrounds, incuding a Latino, an African-American, and a
Our CID process
the first year, we thought seriously about our program. A scheduled
external evaluation of the graduate program provided us with needed
perspective. The team members who attended the first Convening at the
Carnegie Foundation brought back a wealth of ideas from peer
departments and from the CF staff. We surveyed faculty, current
students, and alumni to learn their impressions of the graduate
experience. We tried to recover statistical information: What sorts of
jobs do our graduates hold? What fields of study do our students
choose? How long does it take for them to reach certain milestones (MA
degree, ABD, dissertation defense)? How are our students supported
financially? Towards the end of the year, we held a faculty retreat in
which we first identified problem areas and then envisioned solutions.
Beginning in the second year, we began to design new provisions for the
program, and to improve old ones. After discussion of the problem and
possible solutions in the CID team, one or two members drafted a
proposal. The team then refined it. At that point, the proposal entered
the department's usual governing structures: it was presented to the
Graduate Board, and then (sometimes with additional refinements), it
was brought to the department (faculty and voting student members) for
approval. As of August 2006, proposals are still being generated.
We are monitoring the effects of changes, and making corrections as
necessary. For example, we can document that students speed their
progress to ABD status by six months to a year by using the portfolio
exam system. The new system for processing GTA applications has been
refined twice to lessen graduate students' anxiety concerning
refunding. The long-term consequences of our new policies and
procedures, in terms of students' employability, retention,
time-to-degree, and satisfaction can be determined only in the future.
The Graduate Director as agent of change
About the roles the faculty head of a department's graduate program can facilitate innovations.
It's not all about money
obstacle to success is the belief that more resources are needed in
order to accomplish anything: "If only we had dissertation
fellowships--research grants--speaker funds--better office
space--faculty in X field, etc., etc., we could really have a great
program!" But out of necessity, we needed to concentrate on innovations
to our program that could be accomplished without any significant
change in the department's budget.
doesn't cost a penny to change the content of courses, or to refine our
foreign language policy, or alter our method of comprehensive
examinations, or provide students with a "road map" through the program.Better money management allowed us to use our GTA funds both to support current students and recruit the most promising new ones.The
department established its own "Teaching Exchange"--an on-going
conversation about pedagogical issues--with no cost bust for the light
speakers invited to present lectures can also be
"scholars-in-residence," joining the department in informal
give-and-take about scholarly issues.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
Some aspects of out program, upon consideration, didn't need to be changed at all.
intellectual strength of the department. We have a good balance of
eminent senior faculty and promising junior faculty, and the
opportunity to continue to make strong hires in the future.Graduate
student representation on committees. KU already had a policy to
include students as voting members of most deliberating bodies.
Students are involved in all decisioin-making concerning the graduate
program in the History Department.The
MA degree. We decided to retain it as the usual "first step" for
graduate students who enter the program with a BA. From data analysis,
we confirmed that doing the MA did not slow students' progress towards
the PhD. However, we did confirm the decision made five years previous
to eliminate the MA thesis. Fields
of study. We have both geographically/temporally defined fields, and
thematic fields, all broadly define. We found no compelling
intellectual or programmatic reason to modify them. However, we are
contemplating expanding the list of pre-approved minor fields.Number
of fields. We have the traditional three fields (a major and two
minors, or two majors and one minor). Although we couldn't identify any
reason (beyond the theological) for our fascination with the number 3,
we couldn't come up with any good reason to reduce the number of fields
or expand it.
Don't just talk--do!
the CID team was generating ideas about constructive ways to change the
graduate program, some changes took place on the initiative of
Steven Epstein redesigned the introductory course for graduate students
(History 805), to refocus it on orientation to the historical
profession.Graduate Director Eve Levin streamlined the processes for admitting new students and selecting GTAs.The
department's History Graduate Students Organization founded a peer
mentoring program, pairing each incoming student up with an established
one, as well as their own workshop series.Team
member Tony Rosenthal solicited seed money for pre-dissertation
research grants from Graduate School dean Diana Carlin, who also made a
personal contribution. The fund is now named in memory of graduate
student team member Rebecca Robinson, who passed away in 2005.Assistant professors recast the department's beginning-of-theyear orientation for GTAs.