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Wednesday, 2014 36
by Jeremy Summitt
the thought bubble
It might not be the most aesthetically
pleasing building on campus, at least from
There's a pale green roof that rests
above its beige, stone facade. Some peo-
ple, especially undergraduates, walk by it
everyday without knowing its name.
The Rackham Graduate School hard-
ly resembles the likes of the Michigan
League or North Quad. It sticks out, yet
it's still an afterthought.
As you enter Rackham through one
of the three archways atop the stairway,
you're greeted with warm, ambient col-
ors. Sage, burgundy and gold tones dress
the ceiling in elaborate and symmetrical
designs. Dim, cylindrical lights provide a
calming illumination, and encourage you
to keep walking through one of five doors
into a lecture hall.
Rackham can be easy to overlook when
strolling down East Washington Street or
leaving the Modern Languages Building.
Likewise, Michigan's graduate communi-
ty can seem forgotten among the substan-
tial group of undergraduates - except for
the GSIs, of course.
With 15,000 students - less than half of
the undergraduate population - it might
not be the biggest surprise that graduate
students get skimmed over when it comes
to changes in the University curriculum.
Undergraduate voices typically reign
supreme, but as a sizable chunk of the stu-
dent body, the graduate students are still
working to better incorporate their ideas
into the broader University community.
"The fact that we represent 15,000 on
a campus of about 45,000 means there
should be special attention paid to that,"
said Rackham Student Government Presi-
dent Phillip Saccone.
Rackham facilitates 108 Ph.D programs
at the University of Michigan. In addition,
it facilitates 87 master's programs, and 34
There are some master's programs,
however, that are not so much affiliated
with Rackham, including those in the Col-
lege of Engineering and the Ford School of
Still, the graduate community has
joined hands in the past few years to make
a larger impact on campus and influence
policy changes in ways that fulfill its
During Saccone's tenure, pinpointing
the differences between the graduate and
undergraduate population became one
main focus area. Saccone said RSG has
recently developed a good dialogue about
these distinctions with the University's
VV- "In many ways, the student body on
campus - graduate or otherwise - is sim-
ilar," Saccone said: "And that's great. But
in ways that are very important, they are
Ostensibly, undergraduates are com-
ing from similar high school backgrounds
with a plethora of opportunities in front of
them after graduation - graduate school,
full-time jobs and maybe some traveling.
Graduate students, on the other hand,
are in a program to advance their careers
in that specific area of study. Their goals
and academic preferences are much less
broad than those of undergraduates.
The leap from a student's first four years
of college to a masters or Ph.D program is
grandiose. It calls for a new lifestyle.
"The curriculum is very different. What
Like many of the otf
schools in the nation, th
been slow to respond
according to Saccone. Jo
ically those in the huma
sciences, have taken a hi
The challenging jobn
pivotal issue, and one m
tors in the graduate pr
working out. For several
dents will graduate, join
become professors and
areas of research.
her top graduate pathway for graduate students' success in
ae University has the professional world, a curriculum that
to the changing builds a variety of educational and person-
in several fields, al skills is a necessity. The days of having
b markets, specif- a curriculum where you can simply check
nities and social off requirements soon disappears upon
t since the reces- entering graduate school.
Theoretically, this new era of gradu-
narket remains a ate education began to emerge around 30
nany administra- years ago, and The University's Medical
ograms are still School was on the cutting edge of reform-
years, it's been a ing its advanced studies programs.
that all Ph.D stu- Previously, the majority of students not
the academy and destined to be practicing doctors were
scholars of their in graduate programs to do research and
eventually move on to becoming profes-
sors and to further their research. Lab
requirements became cemented into
the curriculum to prepare students for a
career in the classroom. A new genera-
tion of faculty was being bred in the class-
room and the labs, or so most universities
As Saccone explained about today's
changing job market, not everyone in grad-
uate school aspires to be a professor.
"There are a lot more opportunities for
graduate students with a Ph.D in biomedical
s- sciences to go onto for their future," said Vic-
tor DiRita, associate dean for graduate and
postdoctoral studies in the Medical School.
"There's biotech and pharmaceuticals, and
even public policy jobs and writing."
These diverse fields demand a diversified
curriculum, which Saccone and the rest of
RSG continue working toward.
The skills necessary for a respectable
career in public policy and writing are often
honed outside of a lab. Currently, there are
Ruby Wallau/DAILY efforts being made to gear the curriculum
toward personal development, and estab-
s changed," lishing a broad set of skills to prepare stu-
Is that are even dents for nontraditional career routes.
traditional track "The idea with all of these is not to short
circuit what the (graduate) education
nd the University is doing, but to enhance the value of the
dialogue in order graduate education," DiRita said. "To cre-
toward modify- ate skillsets and toolboxes that students are
two groups have going to be able to rely on to move into dif-
but there's much ferent careers."
Recently, teachingcertificates have become
curred when the more widely available for graduate students
the 9.0 graduate that want to pursue teaching rather than
ndardized 4.0. It delve into additional lab work. Others might
an outdated sys- obtain a certificate in cellular biotechnology
has held onto for or public policy. As rapidly as the job market
has expanded, the University continues to take
into a job inter- steps to keep its students and recent graduates
in to some human competitive.
m on a nine-point The warm colors from within Rackham
just doesn't make quickly fade when the front doors open.
Walk outside, and it gets chilly and uncom-
ages, among oth- fortable.
ool needs to treat The grey clouds are stale. Cross over
raduate student East Washington, and it's back to under-
der to establish a graduate tetritory o
on the record
*** PRESIDENTIAL EDITION ***
"In my experience, universities really don't get led top-
down; The best ideas come from the people who do the
teaching and the learning, so that's why I need to do some
"You Google'Michigan' and the first 10 stories you
get are about athletics. We've gotto find ways to
leverage that level of public attention onto the other
wonderful things that are happening on campus as
"Another thing that made me say 'Michigan is a place
I really have to look at' is my feeling about the role
education can play in solving society's problems."
"There's something about the openness and the
accessibility of a public universities that's really special
and it drew at my heartstrings."
- MARK SCHLISSEL, University of Michigan President-elect on
being selected to lead the University,
"As far as motivation, obviously the money and glamour might not be
there with teaching, but I would say find the noble purpose and commit to
it - whether that's equality, or just getting kids to know history ... Go for
something you feel good about every day, and don't worry about the glitz
and the glamour:'
- ROMAN WILLETS, Education senior
This "Wolf of
Wall Street" duo
Hill during his
monologue on SNL
this week, helping
calm his nerves by
recreating the "I'm
Flying" scene from
is expected of you is very different
(and) overall, career goals are different,"
That's what RSG is trying to relay to the
administration, but sometimes it's more
difficult than one would expect. Policy
changes have sometimes lumped the
graduate students into the undergradu-
ate population as if they have the same
needs. Unfortunately, this constrains the
way specific requests madeby Rackham
students have been addressed.
In hopes of maintaining its image as
the leaders and best, Saccone is aiming to
place the University among the schools
with the most advanced curricula. With
modernized and pertinent course plans,
the graduate student body will eventually
be the universally most well-suited for
coveted opportunities in their respective
"RSG has been very vocal in explaining
which types of training we need to be the
top of the top in our field the way Michi-
gan expects of us," Saccone said;
"The job landscapeha
Saccone said. "The ski]
required to go to that
For this reason, RSG a
have been in continuous
to make advancements
ing the curriculum. The
claimed some success,1
work left to do.
A recent changeoct
GPA scale down to a sta
was just one example of
tem that the University
quite some time.
"Don't make me go
view and have me explai
resources person why I'
scale," Saccone said. "It
The curriculum chat
ers, justify why the schc
undergraduate and g
bodies differently: Iai or
A POT O/ ose Luis Magana
Saturday was grim in Columbia, Maryland as a
19-year-old shooter took the lives of two mall
employees in their 20s and killed himself soon
after. It's clear that stricter gun control laws are
becoming all the more urgent.
You don't need a multi-million dollar recording
contract to make it on the tour bus. Ticket sales
just went out for the month-long event that will
feature an array of popular YouTube artists,
some of whom may make it to the big leagues.
Saturday in Dodger
the Ducks and the
Kings, the NHL
is embarking on
a six-day series of
outdoor games in
Expect to see ice
where you generally