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2025 Visionary Plan

If you have questions or comments, or suggestions, please send an email to 2025@k-state.edu

Feedback for Theme 3: Graduate Scholarly Experience

Thematic Goal
Advance a culture of excellence that attracts highly talented, diverse graduate students and produces graduates recognized as outstanding in their respective professions.

What is missing that should be added?
What activities or outcomes are no longer needed?
General suggestions and comments

What is missing that should be added?

1) Design systems that allow credit to be given for graduates in departments that HOST students in interdepartmental programs instead of giving all the credit to the college where the interdepartmental program is administered - it is an INTERDEPARTMENTAL program after all. 2) Design graduate programs within departments or across departments with flexibility in coursework that allow faculty to be nimble and focus graduate students into new or more targeted areas without the frustration of "core courses" that force broad programs to be generic and often off topic.
The plan seems to well cover the academic and training side of the graduate student experience quite well. It's inspiring and makes me want to be a student again. I love that K-State is pushing toward great things and is aware that strong graduate students and graduate training is crucial to that mission.   What appears to be missing is attention to students' well-being. Our society and what's evidenced by this plan is an on-going push to do and be more.   It makes sense from the perspective of innovation, continued improvement, and advancement. Given the competitive nature of so many fields, both to get into, remain in, and then graduate from and be successful as a professional, graduate school is incredibly stressful. And, being a graduate student doesn't mean the rest of your life stops, so graduate students are navigating stressful training programs while also navigating the everyday stressors people experience at various developmental stages of their lives (and sometimes in a totally different culture than they were raised in!). I think it's prudent that included in the revised 2025 plan is attention to graduate students' emotional and physical well-being, including efforts to help them take care of their needs. This includes emotion regulation skills, problem solving skills, and improved interpersonal skills. To meet these ends, supporting the Lafene Health Center and Counseling Services office could be quite helpful. Both provide services that help students with growth and self-understanding and help equip them with tools (e.g., medication, psychotherapy, nutrition counseling) that can be crucial for success in graduate school.   When students do seek these services, running into waitlists is not helpful. Increasing the staff at both agencies and supporting staff development and self-care so that they can be present and at their best to be able to help students is so important. I believe this is also likely the case for staff at Office of Student Life whose caseloads appear to grow and grow as the semester goes on and the stress rises for students. Further, addressing the financial barriers present for some students to access services is important as well. If they are unable to get the care they need, they will be unable to do the work necessary to help fulfill the 2025 plan. We must take care of each other, and we must be able to take care of ourselves in order to help students be at their best. 
Greater emphasis on interdisciplinary and transformative research (e.g. between science and the arts) that can genuinely contribute to research perspectives and innovation. It's too easy to simply cite an increase in output (e.g. publications), declare victory and go home. In my view, this will not have any significant impact. Reward risk-taking and visionary thinking (something that is verbally lacking at K-State).
Implement programs and policies to recruit a more ethnically diverse group of students to the graduate programs and to support these students better once admitted so that they will be retained and succeed.   Other schools have significant scholarship money for minorities and for women in STEM fields; we have none.   It is impossible to compete.   Further, the few minority students who do come here are very isolated; cross-campus programs are needed to support them.
Instruct the Graduate School to focus on serious long term meaningful activities such as recruiting and supporting minority students.
Lower the application fee to attract more applicants. It is pretty obvious in my department that we would actually make money with a fee of $25 rather than $65; moreover, with a lower fee the quality of our students would increase. We need more GOOD PhDs, graduates who will get jobs at serious places and thus improve our reputation. We will need to pay a price to attract smart people to move to Kansas. Charging the same application fee and offering the same stipend as an institution in a more civilized state will simply not do.
Select department heads who are actually supportive of graduate programs and not just focused on undergraduate retention at the very lowest level.   In fact, I'd suggest that you send a multiple choice survey to faculty of departments with graduate programs to see whether they feel their departments are prioritizing these programs adequately. There seems to be a lot more incentive for department heads in large service departments to focus on customer service in order to retain the weakest and poorest performing undergraduates. This is most definitely not a top 50 attitude! I myself studied at three top twenty schools two in the top five nationally, and can say this with certainty.
Adequately compensate graduate directors who are putting in extra efforts to develop top-caliber programs.
Allow departments more freedom to plan their graduate programs.   The graduate school is too intrusive.   Every year they survey us to see how they can help and every year they ignore good suggestions, like to improve the grammar in their email correspondence and to lower application fees.
During the eight-year evaluation cycle, a team of faculty, including a faculty member from another institution, should make a site visit to each graduate program.
Implement ways of evaluating GTA performance in the classroom that are more holistic than simply the data from TEVALS; most studies on student evaluations have proven that they are biased towards white men and provide little meaningful information on the actual quality of teaching.
Do not allow guns on campus. More than one applicant to our program who turned us down this year cited the new gun laws as her reason for declining. Never mind what statistics may or may not say about the dangers: it is completely inconsistent with the mission of a university to allow guns on campus. No institution that wants to be taken seriously for academics would allow this.   This law has brought our state further into national and international disrepute.

What activities or outcomes are no longer needed?

Increasing the number of PhD's
If we aren't going to actually focus on them (most have not been focused on over the past 5 years) they should be removed

General suggestions and comments

These are mostly a joke since few, if any, of these have actually been a focus in the past 5 years. Very little of this has been accomplished (the excuse is no money), but there has not even been a focus on this - research yes, graduate students no.
A high % of PhD students are international, domestic students don't want or need a PhD and as MS students they are basically shunned from GTA and GRA appointments because in our college those appts are reserved for PhD students.
This plan indicates an emphasis on doctoral level graduate education. I think all levels of graduate education are important and that we should focus on the levels of graduate education that are needed in the employment market and that fit our unique strengths in both research and educational programming. This is more practical than a blanket expectation to produce a number of doctoral graduates comparable to benchmark institutions.
We really need to make progress on tuition waivers for GRAs.
There are great graduate students at KSU. The goal to get tuition waivers for all GRAs is a great goal so our college Deans office took that on, provided it for one cohort of students, but there was no clear planning for that, so now the tuition has to be PAID by faculty. It is not a tuition waiver. Tuition is covered for grad students which I strongly support, but without a clear plan for how this would be provided (it is not a waiver as I stated in 2025), it now falls to the faculty to cover.
I want to commend Dr. Shanklin and the Graduate School for reorganizing the graduate student admission process and the grad council for updating policies. it was well worth the effort. One of my concerns is that we must push through a university-wide policy for GRAs for tuition so that the tuition they receive is not taxable. We cannot be fully competitive and meet the RSCAD goals until this is accomplished. 
In STEM fields, the strength of the graduate program has a major impact on the reputation and ranking of a department. This cannot be emphasized enough. Every department with a PhD program needs to do what we (a few others and I) are trying to do: research what is done at better institutions and adapt those programs to the department here.   The Graduate School and the department heads need to be instructed in no uncertain terms to support these efforts, financially and otherwise. 
Reconsider role of Salina campus in graduate education
This, too, I find essential and feasible even with limited resources.