Administrative Accomplishments and Academic Innovations

Richard A. Cherwitz
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, 1995-2003
Director of Intellectual Entrepreneurship (IE), 1996-Present

These and other accomplishments are documented on my web page:

Interdisciplinary Education and Academic Engagement Initiatives

1. Designed, secured a $450,000 budget for and directed the Graduate School's "Intellectual Entrepreneurship" Program (IE). This nationally acclaimed initiative has 18 courses, 9 portfolio programs, a Synergy Group project, a campus consulting and writing service, 4 workshops, and a Graduate Student Ethics forum in its inventory, a Faculty Advisory Board, a program Director, a full-time administrative associate and a permanent teaching staff; in addition, tenured and tenure-track faculty from across campus frequently teach IE classes and regularly serve as course speakers and panelists. The IE program aims to produce "citizen-scholars." IE courses focus on such topics as academic and professional writing, technology, consulting, ethics, entrepreneurship and advanced teaching methods; the curriculum includes both an academic and a professional internship. IE seeks to maximize the value of graduate education for students and society at-large, enabling students to own their education by deciding how best and in which venues to contribute their expertise. The program's philosophy is that entrepreneurship is not restricted to business, and intellect is not restricted to the university. Intellectual entrepreneurs, both inside and outside of the university, are people who take risks and seize opportunities in order to discover, create, innovate, and solve problems in any number of social realms. IE attempts to harness, integrate and productively utilize intellectual energy and talent wherever it is located--in order to promote academic, cultural, political, social, and economic change. In its first five years, the program helped over 3,000 students in nearly 90 academic fields and every college/school at UT discover their disciplinary identity, celebrate the enormous value of their expertise and become successful, engaged and resilient academic professionals. The IE initiative is literally unprecedented in graduate education. For the first time, a major research university is giving curricular attention with attendant intellectual rigor to a crucial question for every academic discipline: "Thinking as broadly and boldly as possible, how can graduate students take full advantage of opportunities to use their expertise to make a meaningful and lasting difference in their discipline and the community?"

  • Obtained over $150,000 (2000-2003) from UT schools, colleges and other academic units to bring the IE philosophy and curriculum to the disciplines--in a manner that can be replicated and sustained. Among the collaborations: Law School, Plus+ MBA Program, Civil Engineering, Educational Psychology, Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, Liberal Arts Career Services, Information Science, the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, the Undergraduate Writing Center, Nursing, UT's NIH Biotechnology Training program, Theatre and Dance, UT Center for Sustainable Development, and UT's NSF IGERT program in Optical Molecular Bio Engineering.

  • Sponsored the "Interpreting the Texas Past" and "Austin Women's Commemorative" Projects. These interdisciplinary IE initiatives, which have received external funding from Texas Parks & Wildlife, NEH, Houston Endowment and the Summerlee Foundation, provide opportunities for graduate students to learn theoretical and practical skills used extensively by the National Park Service, museums, and exhibit design firms. Through two IE courses, students undertake case studies, focusing on actual outdoor museums managed by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Students who have participated in these initiatives have received national awards for their projects; they also have been awarded IE fellowships. Commencing in 2003, an annual $30K Scholar-in-Residence award was given by the IE Program to a student working on the Interpreting the Texas Past project. These projects have generated five dollars in extramural grants for every dollar of institutional support.

  • Designed new vehicles for funding graduate students, all of which are based on an investment model (rather than pure philanthropy) for generating revenue, reflecting the IE philosophy of empowering students to own and be accountable for their education: Entrepreneurships ("money follows vision"), Follow the Knowledge Fellowships ("money follows knowledge"), Citizen-Scholar Fellowships, and others.

  • In 2000, UT's IE Program received an "Innovation Award" from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

  • In 2002, the IE Program Director received the Ernest. A. Lynton Award (Honorable Mention) for Faculty Professional Service & Academic Outreach.

  • In 2003 the IE Program and Director were recognized by Fast Company Magazine's "Fast 50 Global Challenge" in the "Change Agent" category.

  • In 2005 the IE Director received the CSGS Outstanding Contribution to Graduate Education Award.
    Co-authored essays (1999, 2001, 2002, 2003) in Communicator, a national publication of the Council of Graduate Schools, showcasing the unique and successful IE approach to graduate education pioneered by UT.

  • Wrote an essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education (2001) that documented the response of IE students to the tragedy of September 11 and argued for the increasing need for intellectual entrepreneurship in graduate education.

  • Published articles in Change (2002, 2005) on the philosophy of intellectual entrepreneurship as a vision for graduate education and academic engagement. Wrote an article for the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (2002) that discusses how intellectual entrepreneurship provides a new approach to outreach and public service. Other essays on the IE vision appear in Academe, Inside Higher Ed and The Scientist.

  • Published a scholarly essay documenting the rhetorical foundation of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program in JAC (2003), an interdisciplinary journal in rhetoric, politics and culture.

  • Published an essay in Peer Review (a quarterly journal of the Association of American Colleges and Universities) in 2004 that discusses how the philosophy of intellectual entrepreneurship may offer one way to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who pursue graduate education. A fuller treatment of this thesis appeared in a 2005 issue of the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education.

  • Was invited by Science's NEXT WAVE (2002) to write an essay on "Postdocs as Intellectual Entrepreneurs," an essay documenting how the IE philosophy of "discovery-ownership-accountability" might provide an answer to the problems and challenges facing postdoctoral fellows--many of which are rooted in the "apprenticeship-certification-entitlement" metaphor of graduate education and postdoctoral training.

  • Wrote a piece for the Sunday "Insight" section of the Austin American-Statesman that spotlighted UT's IE initiative as one answer to the challenges facing graduate education in the twenty-first century.

  • The IE program--including job placement of students--has been featured in several front-page and Metro/State stories in the Austin American-Statesman. The program was lauded by the AA-S in lead editorials (1998 and 2001).

  • The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a feature essay on the IE program in its October 8, 1999 issue.

  • The IE program was the focus of a Dallas Morning News story on November 28,1999.

  • The innovative IE program was the reason the authors of the "Grad School Survey" (a national web-based evaluation of graduate programs by students) came to Austin on November 12, 1999 to publicly release their survey results. In the words of Dr. Peter Fiske, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and co-author of the survey, "We're here at the University of Texas because you have the most innovative and forward-thinking program for graduate development, not only in the nation, but I think maybe in the world."

  • The IE program has also been covered in U.S. News & World Report, Converge, Science's Next Wave, HMS Beagle: The BioMedNet Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon, The Scientist, InTech, and numerous local and campus publications, including On Campus, Texas ALCALDE, Texas Tribute and the Cactus.

  • Debra Stewart, President of the Council of Graduate Schools, spotlighted UT's Graduate IE Program in a 2000 presentation on the future of graduate education.

  • Commenting about the IE initiative, Donald Kennedy, former Stanford President and Editor of Science, noted: "This is an innovative program, thoughtfully pursued by someone who has thought hard about how to make change in a system that all too often resists it. Dean Cherwitz's initiative deserves the sincerest form of academic flattery: imitation."

  • Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan, wrote: "University of Texas' Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program is a model for campuses across country that seek to integrate civic engagement into arts and humanities education."

  • Former Dartmouth professor Dr. Geoff Davis (Microsoft Research and creator of PhDs.Org) proclaimed that UT Austin's IE Program "is a great example of the educational excellence that we [PhDs.Org] seek to recognize through our Graduate School Survey." Davis declared IE to be "Ph.D. 2.0."

  • Jan Smith, the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota, described the IE Program as "one of the most exciting events to come along in higher education in a long time."

  • Robert Weisbuch, President of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has lauded UT's IE Program as "groundbreaking…the intellectual equivalent of tech transfer," noting, "They [UT] have done the best job in the country."

  • Kristin Gossett, Executive Director of the Austin Idea Network, believes that "The Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program has the potential to model a new method of problem-solving for communities and institutions. Through action-oriented learning, students will empower themselves and their communities to seek creative solutions."

  • Worked with graduate students to prepare essays documenting their IE experiences for newspapers, magazines and publications of professional associations.

  • Invited to speak and consult on the IE Program at numerous college campuses nationally, including Yale, UNC, Duke and Illinois.

2. Created, obtained approval for, and administered a University-wide Doctoral and Master's Portfolio Program (12 programs are operational and another 3-5 are forthcoming). These cross-disciplinary programs allow graduate students to supplement their discipline-specific education and help foster a greater sense of community and dialog among faculty and students. Portfolio programs bring together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines who share a research interest transcending the boundaries of academic fields; in addition, these programs allow students in highly theoretical disciplines to obtain applied knowledge from allied fields of study, or conversely. Portfolio certification permits UT students to demonstrate to prospective employers both depth and breadth of knowledge. Existing programs include: Cultural Studies, Presidential Studies, Urban Studies, Gerontology, Women's and Gender Studies, Mexican American Studies, Dispute Resolution, Philanthropy, Volunteerism and Nonprofit Management, and Interdisciplinary European Studies. Several others are in the pipeline: Health Communication, Optical Molecular Bio Engineering, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, African American Studies, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship, Sustainability and Environmental Science.

3. Created a "Synergy Group" initiative that presents UT graduate students, faculty, and the community at large with a unique opportunity by bringing together people from different academic fields (including the sciences, humanities, social sciences, arts and professional schools) with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. This cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and integrative approach to intellectual entrepreneurship enables students to work collaboratively with people from multiple academic disciplines and organizations to jointly own and solve problems, discover knowledge, create new and innovative ways of thinking and promote academic, political, economic and social change. Synergy Groups are "action seminars" whose outcomes range from public policy proposals, to corporate strategies and partnerships, to funded and published research, to cross-disciplinary, issue oriented courses taught by a variety of teachers to interested parties on and off campus, to new ways of discovering and communicating knowledge, to the spin-off of "communities of practice" (groups and structures for continuing the work). Current community partners include the Capital Area Training Foundation, the Seton Health Network and the Community Action Network--three organizations who are involved in most of the major community development and social change initiatives in the central Texas region.

4. Created and managed a Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) Internship program and graduate class. UT students are assigned faculty mentors at educational institutions in the local area--institutions whose missions and student populations are different than UT's. Examples of internship activities include: observation of teaching, lecturing classes (with student and mentor feedback), grading, constructing course syllabi, attending departmental meetings and events, directing lab sessions, discussions with faculty and students, assisting with student advising and mentoring, working with students on research projects. In its first six years, the internship program enrolled students from over 50 graduate programs and 10 colleges and schools on campus.

5. Maintained and expanded UT's successful PFF program, of which the Internship (mentioned above) is one component; this program, which is part of a national initiative supported by the Council of Graduate Schools and initially funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, enrolls over 300 UT graduate students annually in over 50 departments from nearly every college and school on campus.

6. Developed and conducted a Dissertation Workshop that was over-subscribed in each of its first five years, enrolling 200+ students from over 60 graduate programs in 11 colleges/schools on campus. Created and maintained an electronic listserv following each workshop that enables doctoral candidates, faculty and administrators to remain in conversation. The current listserv has over 700 subscribers and resulted in the creation of lists treating more specific topics (e.g., ethics, research methodologies, issues face long-distance ABDs, etc.). Maintain an IE web site that includes hundreds of intellectual and career resources for doctoral students.

7. Helped to develop a Professional Internship class (as part of the Graduate School IE Program and classes) that was first available in 2000-2001 for graduate students in non-industry specific areas of study (e.g., humanities, language arts, and some of the social and hard sciences); the internship allows students to utilize their expertise for one semester in the public or private sectors, creating potential employment opportunities. K-12 Teacher Leader internships are included. The internships also assist the University in documenting for the community at-large the added value of graduate education.

8. In collaboration with the Undergraduate Writing Center (UWC), created the Graduate Writing Project (GWP). Beginning in 2001, the Graduate School's Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program (IE), via the GWP, began offering graduate students in contracted academic departments (who provide a stipend for one of their own students to serve as a GWP TA) on-site writing consultation. In addition, and as need and resources allow, GWP TAs provide workshops on writing grant proposals, theses, dissertation chapters, job letters, teaching statements, and other documents; consultants also facilitate student (peer) writing groups. The ultimate objective of the GWP is to utilize the expertise of IE and UWC faculty to collaborate with departmental faculty in developing sustainable methods of graduate writing instruction.

Educational Accountability and Public Affairs

1. Helped to compile comparative graduate student funding data (UT versus competitor schools, as well as differences among colleges and schools on campus) and devise strategies enabling UT's Development Office and the President to make graduate fellowships a high priority in the capital campaign.

2. Proposed, secured approval for, and directed a public affairs operation in the Office of Graduate Studies that served as a model for the rest of the University. Obtained a half-time and a quarter-time Graduate Research Assistant. The result of this operation was greater attention by the community to and awareness of the added value of graduate education, as well as a more proactive, vigorous and rhetorically sophisticated approach to public relations. From 1996-2003 UT enjoyed a better working relationship with local, state and national media. For perhaps the first time ever, matters pertaining to graduate students and graduate education are now regularly featured on the front-page and in the Metro/State section of the Austin American-Statesman.

3. Met with the Editor of the Austin American-Statesman (in 1999 and again in 2002-2003 and 2004-2005); this resulted in several Op Ed pieces that discuss issues in graduate education, innovations on campus, and important topics affecting the University. In November, 2002 I began writing a column called "Citizen-Scholars"--the purpose of which is to feature UT graduate students who are using their passion, experience and expertise to make a substantial contribution both to their discipline and community (beyond UT).

4. Developed and wrote a regular column ("ARETE") for the faculty newspaper (On Campus) that spotlighted outstanding graduate students. In its inaugural year, "ARETE" featured students from key legislative districts throughout the State; all members of the Texas House and Senate are sent copies of On Campus.

5. Wrote and disseminated literature for the Office of Graduate Studies documenting the quality of graduate programs and graduate education at UT, and prepared materials to aid departments in recruiting students. The most important of these was a web-based "Quality Indicators" document (with its own search engine) that examines a variety of measurements of quality at UT (e.g., national rankings, job placement, extramural funding, scholarly and creative output, honors and awards, impact of research on the community, innovations, partnerships, student satisfaction, etc.).

6. Took the lead in redesigning UT's Graduate School web pages, making them more conceptual and thus increasingly accessible to external audiences who are unfamiliar with UT's nomenclature. In addition, web pages are now better geared to recruiting students by showcasing graduate programs and the Graduate School.

7. Developed a "Texas Laurels" web site that salutes master's and doctoral students who, following completion of their degrees, make careers in Texas--those who contribute enormously to the education, politics, culture, economics and social fabric of the State. The goal of this web site is to feature UT alumni who utilize their graduate education to improve Texas and enhance the lives of Texans.

8. Devised a "UT Intellectual Entrepreneurs" web site that documents how graduate students often utilize their expertise to engage a wider public. Through examples, this web site underscores how graduate students hold values, critique based on those values and, above all else, act on those values. The examples highlight how UT students are motivated by deep intellectual and social commitments and why, as a result, they are eager to share their ideas with a variety of audiences.

9. Began writing columns featuring the contributions of graduate students and programs for ALCALDE, the official publication of UT's Alumni Association.

Recruitment and Admissions

1. Helped to resolve a processing crisis in the Graduate and International Admissions Center (GIAC) following the 1995 recruitment season; in addition to restoring the faith of more than 90 graduate programs, centralized graduate admissions at UT is now a model of efficiency. Worked with GIAC to streamline graduate applications and admissions processing (including the development and implementation of electronic and web-based methods). NOTE: UT receives in excess of 18,000 graduate applications annually.

2. Proposed, obtained approval for, and implemented the "UT Select Admissions Program." This pre-emptive admissions program is designed to attract UT's best and brightest juniors to stay on campus for graduate study, allowing them the opportunity for early admission and the option of reserving courses for graduate credit prior to the end of their senior year. This program was also set up to assist efforts to promote diversity by inducing UT's best minority students to remain on campus for graduate study.

3. Developed a University-wide "national recruitment" database; this database includes the names and addresses of over 1500 former UT graduate students from more than 40 disciplines who are now faculty members at 400-plus educational institutions throughout the country and world where UT draws graduate students. The database is accessible to Graduate Advisers and Graduate Coordinators wishing to hook-up promising applicants with UT graduates who are members of the faculty at an applicant's school.

4. Initiated a pilot project (2001-2002), in conjunction with UT's Preparing Future Faculty Program, to bring bright undergraduates (many of whom are underrepresented minorities) from local institutions to UT to do "pre-graduate school" internships; each intern is assigned a faculty mentor and a graduate student "buddy." Implementation of this project was partially supported by a prestigious McNair Grant. Beginning in 2003-2004 this initiative was expanded to include UT-Austin undergraduate students; via departmental research and independent study courses, students interested in graduate school may undertake an IE Pre-Grad internship with faculty mentors and veteran graduate students to learn about advanced study in a particular academic discipline (including the teaching and research responsibilities that are part of graduate education).

5. Worked with the Director of Admissions and the Vice President for Student Affairs to enable GIAC to gain control over its budget and secure greater autonomy in day-to-day operations; after several consecutive years in deficit, GIAC now has a balanced budget and has been able to provide merit salary increases to its employees--despite being essentially a fee-driven operation. Secured equity salary raises for GIAC's chief administrators.

6. Established closer working relationship between the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS), GIAC and over ninety graduate programs via focus groups, a Graduate Coordinator Advisory Board, and periodic meetings with Graduate Advisers from similar disciplines. Worked with the Associate Director of Admissions to develop a more positive, trusting and constructive relationship between the Graduate and International Admissions Center and the Graduate School of Business. From 1996-2003 this relationship became more productive and mutually beneficial than at any other time since the creation of GIAC.

7. Introduced legislation and helped to persuade the Graduate Assembly (the legislative arm of the Graduate School) to revise the University-wide Graduate Record Examination (GRE) policy.

8. Convinced the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to rescind its decision to cancel the paper-and-pencil version of the GRE, and assisted the Vice President and Dean of Graduate Studies (VPDGS) in persuading ETS to provide additional test sites for the computer-assisted GRE.

9. Provided upper-administration, Deans, Chairs and Graduate Advisers with aggregate admissions data (e.g., selectivity, yield, mean Grade Point Average and GRE); used this data to encourage programs to evaluate their admissions profile and recruitment practices.

Other Administrative Initiatives

1. Proposed the creation of, developed criteria and secured approval for two University-wide awards presented by the Office of Graduate Studies: Outstanding Graduate Adviser and Outstanding Graduate Coordinator. Recipients of these awards are recognized at the Graduate School commencement ceremony in May. Awards have been given out annually since 1996.

2. Proposed the creation of two annual Graduate School Distinguished Alumni Awards: one for a master's recipient and one for a doctoral degree holder. Rather than presenting money to award recipients, graduate fellowships in the recipients' names are given out the following academic year to a student in the program from which the recipient graduated. The first awards were made in 1999.

3. Worked with the Graduate Coordinator Advisory Board, the Office of Graduate Studies, the Provost's Office and the Office of Human Resources to create a new staff title for Graduate Coordinators--one that more accurately reflects the administrative, technological and counseling functions performed by Coordinators, and one that recognizes the "professional" nature of the job and the multiple career paths for which Graduate Coordinators are qualified.

4. Helped to design and implement a Graduate Coordinator Network, a dynamic professional mentoring, training and resource development group for all UT coordinators. The Network is comprised of "activity areas," each administered by volunteer coordinators interested in serving as mentors, facilitators, trainers and resource contacts for a specific topic or administrative function relative to graduate education. Activity areas develop written and electronic materials for easy delivery to all coordinators on campus. In addition, each activity area designs and presents a training seminar.

5. Simplified and eliminated unnecessary paperwork in students' "Application for Doctoral Candidacy."

6. Drafted sample policies and letters to assist graduate programs in evaluating and monitoring the progress of doctoral students; these are now an official part of the Graduate School Policy Manual.

7. Obtained (with the technical assistance of Academic Computing and Instructional Technology Services) a mechanism allowing UT programs to establish e-mail for admitted graduate students prior to enrollment.

8. Worked with the Provost's Office to include matters pertaining to graduate education (e.g., admissions data, financial support of students, time-to-degree, etc.) in the annual COMPACT meetings with academic deans to evaluate colleges/schools and develop plans for future years.

*NOTE: Following completion of my tenure as a dean in the Office of Graduate Studies, I have continued in my capacity as a faculty member to build the IE platform, developing interdisciplinary initiatives for undergraduate as well as graduate students.