Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rackham celebrates its 100th with events all year

As the Rackham Graduate School enters its centennial, it not only will look back at a century of service but will offer an assortment of activities that showcase the many facets of modern graduate education.

Events planned throughout the year include an evening with Jorge Cham, the creator of; a centennial symposium; and roundtable discussions on U-M alumni making a difference. (See sidebar below.)

  The Barbour Scholarship Fund long has been an important source of support for international graduate students in Rackham programs. Pictured here are the 1932-33 Barbour Scholars. Photo courtesy of Rackham Graduate School.

In 1912, a separate school of graduate studies was established at U-M to be responsible for assuring consistent standards of quality across all graduate programs.

“The University of Michigan is known worldwide for its transformative graduate education programs,” President Mary Sue Coleman says. “In creating new knowledge and preparing future leaders since 1912, Rackham Graduate School stands on a firm foundation for its next 100 years of developing scholars, scientists and professionals.”

Today, U-M not only is one of the largest producers of Ph.D.s in nation, but also is among America’s top-ranked universities in the number of doctoral degrees granted to members of underrepresented groups. Michigan offers 108 doctoral, 83 master’s and 33 certificate programs ranging from the arts and humanities to the biomedical sciences, engineering, the social sciences, and the physical sciences.

“This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the graduate school in 1912, although the University of Michigan began awarding graduate degrees in the 1840s,” Rackham Graduate School Dean Janet Weiss says. “During that long history, and especially since a universitywide graduate school was created, Michigan has been a national leader in innovation in graduate education.

“The university offers remarkable breadth, flexibility (including allowing students to design their own doctoral degrees), and interdisciplinarity (a host of interdepartmental degrees and graduate certificates) in graduate education across all of the schools and colleges.”

During the past century, the graduate school has continued to provide new ways of adding value to graduate education at U-M — by making innovative, well thought out interventions guided by faculty; nurturing interdisciplinary and international programs; and supporting the intellectual entrepreneurism of graduate students from every discipline. The Rackham Graduate School provides a rich set of financial and professional supports for students in master's and doctoral programs to promote high quality scholarship during graduate school, and to prepare students for careers after graduate school, Weiss says.

Each year, the graduate school collaborates with faculty and senior administrators across campus to foster new programs and fund new initiatives such as the Global Engagement of Doctoral Education, an effort to prepare Ph.D. students for the international dimensions of a research career, and the Bridge Master’s Program, an effort to recruit to the sciences exceptional students who might not otherwise consider graduate school.

“The graduate school welcomes talent from across society. Federal data show that the University of Michigan is among the top 10 producers of minority Ph.D. recipients for all racial minority groups,” Weiss says. “Diversity, innovation and academic excellence are all hallmarks of graduate education at Michigan today, as they have been for the last 100 years and more. Our anniversary will celebrate these accomplishments and point us toward sharing these values with future generations of Michigan graduate students.”

Rackham Graduate School’s 100th anniversary

Schedule of events
All events are free and open to the public.

An Evening with Jorge Cham

7 p.m. Jan. 24, Rackham Auditorium

The creator of, Jorge Cham will screen his new film, “Piled Higher and Deeper,” and hold a Q-&-A session afterwards. The evening wraps up with a centennial celebration in the lobby.

Centennial Symposium: Michigan Graduate Students in the World

3-5 p.m. Feb. 16, Rackham Building

Michigan’s graduate students develop creative ideas and push research in new directions to open and engage critical problems in every field of advanced study. The symposium highlights the global impact that graduate students make through their research. Students will share their research and creative work in a lively setting that displays the quality, breadth and diversity of graduate education at Michigan. Sponsored by ProQuest.

Career Exploration Roundtables: Michigan Alumni Making a Difference

4 p.m. March 15, 4th floor, Rackham Building; 4 p.m., Lurie Engineering Center, Johnson Room A

Panels of Rackham alumni from across the disciplines will share their experiences pursuing careers outside the academy.

Graduate Education in the Research University: Jonathan Cole

4 p.m. April 5, Rackham Amphitheatre

Jonathan Cole, the John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University, and Provost and Dean of Faculties, Emeritus, at Columbia University, will talk about graduate education in the research university.

Centennial Lectures


Rackham graduate programs will host lectures delivered by their graduate alumni throughout October. The Centennial Lectures will showcase the diversity and quality of the intellectual legacy of the university’s graduates.

For more info: