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"" Audio Conference Series

How Educational Institutions Can Diversify the Graduate Student Body

by Richard Cherwitz, The University of Texas at Austin

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About the Conference

Despite recent gains in minority enrollments and the creation of outreach programs at many graduate schools, the student body in graduate programs is overwhelmingly white. And in many fields, graduate programs worry about their inability to attract American applicants. A growing number of experts believe that while graduate admissions efforts are important, much of the work to diversify the graduate student body must start in undergraduate programs.

On Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at 2 p.m. Eastern, Richard Cherwitz led a discussion on how undergraduate programs need to change to encourage more of their minority students (and more of their students generally) to consider graduate school and faculty careers. Cherwitz is founder and director of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium (IE) in the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin. One of IE's initiatives is the Pre Grad School Internship, which helps undergraduates work closely with graduate students and faculty members, and is credited with encouraging many to pursue graduate study (especially first generation and underrepresented students).

Among the topics Dr. Cherwitz discussed

  • An overview of the current demographics of graduate school.
  • Why affirmative action and traditional "recruitment" efforts by graduate schools can only be part of a solution, and won't by themselves be effective.
  • Why the undergraduate curriculum needs to change to attract more students to grad school..
  • How the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Consortium works, and how its philosophy and principles can be applied to an array of colleges and universities.
  • The role of academic advisors and of mentors.
  • The one-hour program featured time for questions and answers -- and the program was designed for a wide range of institutions.

Dr. Cherwitz was interviewed by the editor of Inside Higher Ed for 30 minutes and then took questions for 30 minutes. The entire program lasted one hour.>

The program is of value for

  • Academic advisers
  • Department chairs and undergraduate coordinators
  • Diversity and minority student services officials
  • Academic deans
  • Graduate school deans and admissions officers

Some of the participating institutions/organizations

Stanford, Ohio State, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brown, North Carolina State University, the American Psychological Association, University of Indiana, University of Nevada, University of Maryland, the American Chemical Society, University of Iowa, Pittsburgh, University of Illinois, The Scripps Research Institute, University North Carolina, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. Olaf, and the Mayo Clinic.