Disbanding the University of Minnesota Graduate School

Unexpected news this week: the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota is no more.  Instead, there will be an Office of Graduate Studies under the Provost’s Office.

So this is supposed to be big news.  There have been front-page articles in the Minnesota Daily, several mass emails, an emergency meeting, and even an article in Inside Higher Ed.

But to a first-order approximation, I see this having NO effect on my life as a graduate student.  Sure, some forms and bureaucracy might change, but I don’t think the changes in my day-to-day life as a student merits all this hand-wringing.

To second order, however, I think the effects are somewhat positive.  To quote the provost, Tom Sullivan,

We’re going to put more responsibility in the academic homes, where I think it should be intellectually and academically.

That makes sense to me.  The individual graduate programs know what the requirements for their students should be, and I’m sure this varies greatly among departments.  As an example, admissions are handled by the department, with later acceptance to the Graduate School strictly a formality.  In fact, their only function was to make me fill out another form and charge me an application fee.

Of course, a major factor in this decision is the economy, and the large cut in state funding that is waiting in the wings for the University.  This organizational change is supposed to save some money, which will probably come largely in the form of elimination of administration jobs.  And, not surprisingly, most of the hand-wringing and outrage has come from those whose jobs might be affected.

However, if things get noticeably better (or worse), I’ll definitely be blogging about it.  But don’t hold your breath.

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