Professor awarded for work
Cherwitz honored for contributions to grad education

By Andrew Tran
The Daily Texan
Jan 20, 2005

Richard CherwitzRichard Cherwitz, a professor of communication studies at the university, recently won the 2005 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools' outstanding achievement award.

Associate dean of the Graduate School at Texas from 1995-2003, Cherwitz was nominated earlier this year by fellow graduate professors and deans in colleges across the country and then finalized by the Conference awards committee. He is recognized for "outstanding contributions" to graduate education such as developing the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program (IE) for graduate students at the university.

The Conference established this award in 1980 to acknowledge and honor people whose contributions have significantly benefited graduate education in not only their own colleges, but colleges across the nation.

"It's wonderful," Cherwitz said. "It shows the people who are part of the graduate professional community value my work; it's very flattering to receive recognition from those who know more than anybody else about this type of work."

Previously, graduate study was considered professors taking a mentor-type stance towards their graduate students and teaching these apprentices everything they know. Unfortunately, this type of relationship can lead to what Cherwitz described as "cloning," even if the student originally intended another course.

Cherwitz said his IE program reconsidered graduate education, particularly at the doctoral level, and looked beyond traditional academic and research boundaries into other areas, such as entrepreneurial activities.

"People should be tapping into their own passions," he said. "Jobs are things students should be able to create for themselves, whether those jobs already exist or students carve them out for themselves--and whether those jobs are academic or not."

Other schools, such as the University of Illinois and the University of North Carolina, are following his multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial model.

Kim Nixon, who received her doctorate in neuroscience at the university and participated in Cherwitz's IE program, said that in a time when many students were realizing that there were not enough traditional academic jobs, the university had the initiative to do something about it.

"Ask any faculty member across the nation who is apprised of the current state of affairs for graduate students, and these people know Dean Cherwitz's name and IE program," she said.

Since Cherwitz stepped down from his position overseeing the graduate studies, the university continues to use many aspects of his program with its own Professional Development and Community Engagement graduate program.

Cherwitz is still involved with graduate studies with his current IE project, heading an undergraduate program for UT students. Introduced two years ago, the program pairs undergraduate students with graduate students and faculty mentors to increase knowledge about advanced degree opportunities.