Project lauds Ph.D. benefits

by Shelley Doggett
Daily Texan Staff
January 18, 2001

In hopes of increasing the number of students pursuing Ph.D.s nationwide, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation introduced a public education project to promote the many uses of a doctoral degree Tuesday.

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes education and leadership programs.

The project, termed the "Responsive Ph.D. Initiative," aims to create career opportunities outside the traditional university teaching positions for Ph.D. holders by encouraging companies to consider graduates with Ph.D.s for positions.

The foundation also intends to work with universities across the country to create a more diverse curriculum and environment for higher education.

Robert Weisbuch, president of the foundation, said it's surprising that so many people with Ph.D.s don't realize the number of opportunities outside academics available to them.

Weisbuch added that when graduate students enter the work force and receive limited teaching offers from mediocre universities, they often don't consider other employment possibilities and begin to believe their doctorate degrees can't be put to better use.

"Our goal is to fight the waste of human resources and to give greater authority throughout the liberal arts and humanities disciplines," Weisbuch said.

He added that creating more incentives for students to earn Ph.D.s and using those degrees in new ways are goals the Ph.D. initiative hopes to meet by selecting several major universities to implement new ideas in their graduate programs.

Weisbuch said the UT graduate studies program is a great example of the progress the Wilson foundation hopes to accomplish across the country.

"I think that they are a great model of what you can do in doctoral education," Weisbuch said. "They have done the best job in the country."

Rick Cherwitz, associate dean of graduate studies, said he believes the foundation's program will benefit graduate students and falls directly in line with what the UT graduate studies program has been doing for the last five years.

Weisbuch said he hopes the program will encourage students to use Ph.D.s in imaginative ways that can maximize intellectual development.