Before the start of the fall semester, the USF Graduate School will transform into the Office of Graduate Studies in an effort to create “greater operational and resource efficiencies,” according to an email sent to faculty and staff from Provost Ralph Wilcox.
“Although the financial prospects for higher education in Florida are generally better as a result of the most recent session of the state Legislature, the fact remains that years of decreasing state appropriations leave USF still under considerable financial pressure to meet all of its strategic objectives and continue the university’s impressive academic advancement,” Wilcox wrote.
Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dwayne Smith, who will head the Office after Graduate School Dean Karen Liller’s appointment ends Aug. 15, said he and Liller are currently looking to see what essential services the Graduate School offers and what the best way to “reorganize, scale down the scope and centralize” resources will be.
“We’re looking to see what can we do to enhance and be effective to deliver those services,” Smith said. “It’s a little bit different from the undergraduate program, but the heart and soul of the graduate experience is at the department level.”
Wilcox said the goal of the program lies in “redoubling its support for graduate education, strengthening services for graduate students and streamlining related business processes.”
Smith said graduate program enrollment, which comprises around 25 percent of USF’s total student population, is becoming increasingly demanded by employers. He said USF has accordingly increased its offerings to include research programs, professional programs and certificate programs, which take less time but focus on concentrated areas. USF now has more than 100 graduate certificate programs.
USF, Smith said, has been working on shaping its graduate enrollment population, and recently the admissions office for the Graduate School was moved to centralize it with all university admissions.
“It’s a critical mass, a vibrant collection, that simply indicates your dedication to graduate education,” he said.