Educating Scholars: Doctoral Education in the Humanities

By Ronald G. Ehrenberg; Harriet Zuckerman et al. | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 1
Introduction

Gratitude is mostly due to the ways in which the
Mellon grant impelled change. Signing on to
the Mellon grant required faculty to reconsider
their collective responsibilities and forced them to
devise new requirements and monitoring proce-
dures. Although impressionistic evidence will be
cited, faculty and students will easily attest that the
cultures of their graduate groups have changed
with new expectations and sense of mission.

—Graduate dean of a participating
university in 19961

When I began my grad career, there were formal
steps early in the program, but there was no fur-
ther program designed to encourage students to
make progress in dissertation writing or to pre-
pare them for professional work. The department
began to have a more consistent program for en-
couraging progress in the early '90s. Perhaps a re-
sponse to a Mellon Foundation grant.

—Student in English who began graduate
school in 1985 and left in 2001

IN 1991, THE Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched what would become the largest effort ever made to improve graduate education in the humanities in the United States. The Graduate Education Initiative (GEI) was “to achieve systematic improvements in the structure and organization of PhD programs in the humanities and related social sciences that will in turn reduce unacceptabl[y] high rates of student attrition and

1 The quotations introducing this chapter and those that follow are drawn from annual
reports sent to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation on the Graduate Education Initiative
and from the Graduate Education Survey (GES) of students. See Chapter 2 for detailed de-
scriptions of the reports and the GES.

-1-

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