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Graduate School to strengthen program

Sept. 18, 1996

By Aaron Westmoreland

Lariat Reporter

The Baylor Graduate School is currently undergoing a doctoral review process.

Dr. Cheryl Gonce-Warner, associate dean of the Graduate School, is leading the process to prepare for the review. She said this review is a commitment by the Graduate School to develop stronger programs.

'Every single program in the country has room for improvement,' Warner said.

All 17 doctoral programs are under review by experts from their respective fields, Warner said.

An expert visits for one day and looks at compiled data about the program based on a sampling of students and 'an overwhelming majority of professors.'

The Graduate School asks seven questions for each program; including questions such as strengths and weaknesses of the programs and to what extent the program makes a positive contribution to the discipline, professor and total mission of the University.

Warner said strengths are addressed in the six domains of administration: cost, course offerings, faculty, physical facilities and students.

The expert evaluates the program based upon the seven questions. The report is then submitted to the Graduate School office, and its recommendations are taken into account.

From that point, the deans and professors decide what action will be taken towards improvement.

'This allows us to positively, professionally and pro-actively address any problems, or complements toward the program,' Warner said.

She said the process is helping programs turn out more technically proficient students, as well as ones who are academically proficient.

'The Graduate School is interested in seeing programs be the most competitive and most complemented programs around,' Warner said.

She said the Graduate School is 'increasingly more aware of providing degrees which have the rigor to meet with market demands.'

'We are committed to building stronger programs,' Warner said. 'It is not so easy to pick an individual tree out when you are in the middle of the forest. But another person could easily identify one particular tree by standing on the outside of the forest.'

The review process is similar to this, Warner said. An outside expert provides insight to problems professors and the deans might not recognize.

In addition to the review, the Graduate School also provides exit interviews for all students graduating from the school. Just before graduation, an exit interview is conducted to ask the student questions concerning possible improvements and to determine what was satisfactory.

The review, along with entrance and exit interviews, are an integral part of the Graduate School's efforts to improve itself in a competitive market. Review of the master's degree programs will begin after the doctoral process.

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