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AAU Receives Grants to Promote More Student-Centered Doctoral Education

Following is a statement from the Association of American Universities to announce it has received grants to further the AAU PhD Education Initiative.

AAU today announced it received grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation to launch the AAU PhD Education Initiative, which aims to change the culture surrounding doctoral education at AAU institutions.

The AAU PhD Initiative’s mission is to promote more student-centered doctoral education at AAU universities by making diverse PhD career pathways visible, valued, and viable. The Initiative’s goals include:

1. Institutional Change. Influence the culture and behavior at the department level to provide PhD students with the knowledge, skills, and ability to succeed in careers within and beyond academia.

2. Data Transparency. Identify institutional policies and practices to make PhD program data, including data about the career pathways and employment trends of their PhD alumni, widely available.

3. Strategies. Highlight and encourage effective university, disciplinary society, and federal agency strategies and programs.

The $300,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will be used over four years to build AAU’s internal capacity to lead the Initiative and provide resources to a pilot cohort of eight member universities, representing 16 academic departments, to implement reforms within STEM PhD education. These reforms will address the culture, behavior, policies, and practices necessary to construct student-centered educational environments and successfully prepare doctoral candidates for careers both within and beyond the academy. The Charles Koch Foundation’s grant of $50,000 in initial first year support expands the pilot to include departments in the arts and humanities.

AAU President Mary Sue Coleman said: “We are very grateful for the Sloan and Koch foundations’ support in advancing the AAU PhD Education Initiative. AAU will work to encourage America’s leading research universities to develop plans and implement key recommendations from last year’s National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) report on Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century.” Dr. Coleman was one of the NASEM committee members that helped prepare the report.

“AAU is showing vision and leadership at a pivotal time for PhD education,” said Elizabeth S. Boylan, program director at the Sloan Foundation. “The future of graduate education is in building advanced degree programs that not only recognize but celebrate the tremendous diversity of career paths a PhD makes possible. We are excited to support the AAU and its university partners in their commitment to bringing meaningful, student-centered change to graduate education.”

“AAU is embarking on an impressive effort to increase the diversity of career paths for PhD students and follow our shared goal of helping more students receive the full benefits of their education over the course of their careers. We are honored to support AAU as it launches this initiative,” said Ryan Stowers, Executive Vice President of the Charles Koch Foundation.

AAU has recruited Dr. Chris Golde of Stanford University to serve as co-principal investigator to the Initiative. Dr. Golde is a leading scholar in the study of graduate education and doctoral education reform. To guide the effort, AAU appointed an advisory board of experts in graduate education.

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Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities is composed of America’s leading research universities. AAU’s 62 research universities transform lives through education, research, and innovation.

Our member universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that improves public health, seeks to address national challenges, and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators.

AAU member universities collectively help shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of leading research universities to American society.

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