The University Record, March 26, 1996

Rackham announces new first-year fellowship program

By Jared Blank

The Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies has created a new fellowship program for first-year graduate students. Rackham First Year Fellowships will provide two terms of tuition, a stipend and GradCare health insurance to 80 students.

"Some of these fellowships will be distributed to students otherwise supported by Merit Fellowships, while other fellowships will be distributed to students who will receive additional support from other departmental and University sources," says Robert Weisbuch, dean of the Graduate School. "The overall cohort will represent the graduate school's total and diverse student population."

The awards are given to "model departments," to distribute to incoming students, adds Weisbuch. "Working closely with incoming Dean Nancy Cantor, we chose departments that are excellent in a number of regards or are making a great effort to become so. After all, the purpose of graduate education is to graduate people who will make a major and beneficial impact on one or another aspect of the human condition. These awards will help to attract people who have high potential to achieve this," he says.

Weisbuch notes that departments were evaluated on several criteria, including "student quality, departmental repute, diversity efforts, the climate for students, selectivity in admissions and the capacity of departments to plan programs which allow students to graduate in a timely fashion."

Programs of an interdisciplinary nature were rewarded for their efforts, Weisbuch adds. "We will bring the 80 students together from time to time so they can discuss their work, which we hope will bring about further interdisciplinary study."

An added benefit of closely evaluating the individual units for this award, Weisbuch says, is better dialogue between Rackham and the individual programs. "We rewarded programs all over the University, establishing stronger ties with engineering, the Medical School, and several of the smaller schools and colleges."

The Graduate School has suggested ways that departments can improve aspects of their programs based on what was learned during this process. "This award has given us a lot of new knowledge, as well as creating many new challenges for the Graduate School," Weisbuch adds.

"With less than 15 percent of graduate programs receiving awards, this program really recognizes pockets of excellence across the University," he says. "We hope to expand the number of participating programs in the future."