MINUTES OF THE REGULAR FACULTY COUNCIL MEETING OF
November 28, 2011

VII. REPORTS OF THE GENERAL FACULTY, COLLEGES, SCHOOLS, AND COMMITTEES.

A. Report on Graduate Student Survey

Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Victoria Rodriguez reported on a survey sent to all UT Austin graduate students last spring to assess the climate of graduate education in five principal areas. She said the study had been recommended by the Gender Equity Task Force Report because issues faced by female assistant professors were thought to be similar to those faced by female graduate students. The online survey was sent to 11,500 graduate students, and responses were received from 4,500, for a forty percent response rate. Dean Rodriquez said she was extremely pleased with the report because the major finding was that UT Austin graduate students “really like their professors.” She reported the following results:

  • Ninety-two percent of the respondents are happy and would recommend UT Austin Graduate School to a friend.
  • The graduate students really appreciate the mentorship faculty members provide and treasure the personal, one-on-one relationship.
  • Students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields tend to have much better and constant funding than those in the humanities and social sciences.
  • Although students could use additional funding, they are not desperately angry about not having as much funding as they would like.
  • Different types of graduate students (e.g., females, student parents, international, etc.) have very different experiences in confronting graduate school.
  • Responses to the student services questions on quality-of-life issues (e.g., housing, transportation, mental health, stress level, etc.) have been used to develop a series of policy recommendations.

Vice Provost Rodriguez said the policy recommendations were ones that could be accomplished and would further enhance the climate for graduate students at UT Austin. She announced that the report would be posted online after the Council meeting and encouraged everyone to review it. She concluded her remarks by saying the report was an excellent companion piece to the recent report on faculty research and productivity by Associate Dean Mark Musick (liberal arts, sociology).

When Professor Gordon asked what percentage of UT Austin’s graduate students were international students, Vice Provost Rodriguez replied, “about thirty percent.” Professor Gordon said about three percent of those students are African-American, and he wanted to know what the climate was for students of color on campus. The vice provost responded that the group experienced discrimination, felt lonely, and saw too few faculty members of their race. She added the findings for African-American students were similar to those in the gender equity report. After thanking her for the information, Professor Gordon said it was important to keep a perspective about the history of the University, “which has been predominantly non-people of color for a long time.” When UT Austin had struggled to get an African-American student population of only about three percent and an international population of only thirty percent, he said it was clear there was an important issue involved that needed attention. The vice provost agreed.

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