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Dean's Alumni Newsletter: October 2012

Randy Diehl

Dear Friends,

The beginning of the fall semester is one of my favorite times of the year. The feeling of expectancy is palpable as thousands of students - undergraduates and graduates - come together in a unique atmosphere of learning and discovery. In many ways our graduate students especially help define and shape the life and work of our campus through scholarship and research at the highest levels, and through their work as teachers and mentors to our undergraduate students.

Liberal Arts Building

In addition to providing a space for student research, the new College of Liberal Arts Building will attract top graduate students from universities throughout the world.

And I am proud to say the College of Liberal Arts is a campus leader in helping our graduate students succeed. We have led a number of reforms that are having a direct impact on the success of our graduate students, including reducing the size of the cohort and increasing our focus on quality and success.

Our Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Esther Raizen, and her staff are using various approaches from survey data to one-on-one interviews to better understand challenges and identify opportunities unique to our graduate students, including:
  • Establishing a Liberal Arts Graduate Student Advisory Council to ensure greater involvement of the graduate student voice in college- and university-level decision making.
    Jennifer Montez

    After completing her doctorate in sociology at The University of Texas at Austin in spring 2011, Jennifer Karas Montez is continuing her research at Harvard University as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar. The fellowship is the most prestigious postdoctoral award in the field of population health.

  • Creating a Graduate School Teaching Fellowship to strengthen the profile of doctoral students who are about to enter the academic job market. Because teaching is likely to remain the primary activity of most of our graduates, we are increasing our efforts to prepare students for this field and to highlight their training and experience as instructors. We piloted this initiative in 2011-2012 with doctoral students from Comparative Literature, Government, History, and Linguistics. 

  • Preparing students for research and education in the 21st century through such programs as the Digital Humanities Institute in the Department of English, and through collaboration with UT's Center for Teaching and Learning, which provides opportunities to advance graduate students' pedagogical, academic, and professional progress.
  • Offering "Intellectual Entrepreneurship" resources for graduate students who are preparing dissertations, entering the academic job market, or researching non-academic career options.
  • Telling the stories about our graduate students on our websites and in Life & Letters, their accomplishments in research, teaching, innovation-and their many contributions to our society in academic and professional careers around the world.
The College of Liberal Arts continues to work to make the graduate student experience-from recruitment to timely degree completion and job placement-as rewarding as possible. And we continue to value their contributions-your contributions-as alumni and supporters in the great Longhorn tradition.

This is the first in a series of six emails I will be sending to our alumni over the course of the academic year to keep you informed about the good work of the college. I encourage you to keep in touch, and share your own stories of experiences in the College of Liberal Arts and how they have shaped your life.