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Initiative Activities

On September 12, 2019, AAU announced the pilot group of eight member universities, representing 34 academic departments, that will implement reforms within STEM, social sciences, arts, and humanities in Phase I of the Initiative.

In February 2019, AAU secured grant funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation to implement the initial phase of work of the AAU PhD Education Initiative.  In Phase I of the Initiative, AAU will identify a pilot cohort of eight member universities and support their engagement in three key activities that will occur in parallel over the 2019-2022 academic years.

On May 31 and June 1, 2018, AAU convened a PhD Program and Career Outcome Data Transparency workshop supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Science Foundation.  The workshop engaged representatives from institutional, multi-institutional projects and projects led by disciplinary professional societies that are working to document PhD career pathways.  The workshop design allowed for the community to identify critical next steps for data transparency in PhD career outcome efforts, as well as identify areas for collaboration, potential synergies and greater alignment between projects.  A key outcome of the workshop was the development of two summary matrix documents to map information about the numerous institutional and multi-institutional PhD program and career outcome data efforts, and a compilation of short descriptions of multi-institutional efforts created by project leadership.

In January 2018, AAU secured planning grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch AAU’s PhD Education Initiative.  The Sloan Foundation grant provided financial support for AAU to collaborate with Dr. Chris Golde, Assistant Director Career Education, Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education at Stanford University and to convene an Advisory Board to help advance the Initiative.  The Mellon Foundation grant allowed AAU to include humanities experts on the Initiative’s Advisory Board.

On September 12, 2017, a statement on doctoral education data transparency was endorsed by the AAU Chief Academic Officers (CAOs), a group consisting of the provosts of AAU members universities.  This statement built upon a session on graduate education and subsequent conversations that began the prior year at the 2016 AAU CAO meeting, and at the 2016 AAU Association of Graduate Schools (AGS) Deans meeting, which included a presentation titled “Making PhD Data Public.”

In 2014, AAU hosted a workshop led by a university president and consisting of provosts, graduate deans, vice presidents for research and institutional research officers to discuss issues facing graduate education and identify priorities and actionable activities for the association.  Following this workshop, a summary paper was prepared, and a plenary session titled, “Crafting an AAU Agenda for Doctoral Education,” was held at the AAU Presidents and Chancellors meeting in April 2015.  The perspective of the AAU Presidents and Chancellors was presented at the September 2015 AAU AGS Deans meeting as part of a session titled, “The Big Picture: An AAU Agenda for Doctoral Education.”  A common theme across these conversations was the need for program- and institutional-level metrics and student outcome data.