The knowledge base in all disciplines is changing at an unprecedented rate. Increasingly, practising professionals in all fields are looking to universities for continuing education opportunities to upgrade their existing graduate level education or to add graduate education to an undergraduate degree. Western must move quickly to meet these legitimate expectations and develop graduate programs at the Master's level that are designed to be compatible with the time and mobility limitations of the practising professional, yet meet the highest graduate-level academic standards. Recent innovations in information technology have dramatically increased the possibilities in this area. Excellent models for such development can be found in Western's Executive MBA and Modular MEng programs and in the emerging MSc program in computer software engineering.
Because graduates of such programs will play a key role in addressing both the present challenges and the future opportunities of our society, it is particularly important that we strive for a culture of innovation and renewal in graduate studies at Western. Although such innovation will continue to be found in well-established disciplinary programs, we must also continue to support the development of interdisciplinary graduate programs that follow newly-emerging directions in scholarship and which bring together knowledge and methods from traditionally distinct domains. Existing programs in Theory and Criticism, Neurosciences, and Comparative Literature are outstanding examples of the potential of interdisciplinary graduate study.
As we move to pursue innovation and move into new areas of graduate education, Western must reinforce the preeminent place of the doctoral degree. As we seek to enhance our position as a leading research-intensive university, the size and quality of our doctoral programs and the success of their graduates will be an important indicator of the University's movement towards fulfilment of its Mission and Vision.
2.1 The University should continue to focus recruitment efforts on outstanding graduate students through the support of entrance and continuing scholarships. The recruitment and support of graduate students should continue to be maintained through the current process that assigns 80% of new revenue deriving from graduate student tuition fees to the awards budget of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The effectiveness of this awards program should be reviewed regularly. Private-sector support for graduate scholarships should be a priority in upcoming fund-raising campaigns.
2.2 Chairs and Deans, in consultation with the Dean of Graduate Studies, should ensure that the responsibilities of graduate supervision are precisely defined and carefully monitored in each graduate program. Graduate student supervision and graduate course instruction should be explicitly considered by Chairs and Deans in annual evaluations of faculty performance and assignment of workload.
2.3 Multidisciplinary research programs which may cross Faculty boundaries are becoming more prevalent as collaborative links are forged between research investigators in various disciplines. Graduate students may require courses and research experience outside of the area of their primary emphasis in order to be successful and adaptable in the modern research environment. The Dean of Graduate Studies should examine mechanisms which would foster the development of multi-discipline skills in graduate research, including the ability of students to obtain credits in Faculties outside of their own program.
2.4 The Dean of Graduate Studies should move aggressively to foster development of alternative formats for the delivery of graduate programs at the Master's level for continuing professional education. Such programs should be designed to take into account the time and mobility limitations of students within the professions. A plan for the development of such programs should be submitted to Senate by the Dean of Graduate Studies prior to July 1, 1996.
2.5 The Dean of Graduate Studies should carefully review times-to-completion in all graduate programs to ensure that program requirements and supervisory practices facilitate completion in a timely fashion.
2.6 The Dean of Graduate Studies should initiate a survey of graduate students as they leave Western regarding their academic experience at the University.