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Featured Profile—University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Classified as a Doctoral/ Research University-High Research Activity by the Carnegie Foundation, UMBC offers 23 Ph.D. programs, with a focus

on science, engineering, public policy and human services. Our graduate student population has grown rapidly, from 1,400 students in 1999 to approximately 2,600 students in 2007. At the same time we have been formalizing policies and procedures, and implementing interventions to improve student retention and success. UMBC is recognized nationally as a leader in promoting inclusiveness in graduate education as evidenced by our 2002 CGS/Peterson’s award.

Scott Bass and Janet Rutledge










Scott Bass, Dean of the Graduate School, and Janet Rutledge, Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School

The Ph.D. Completion Project has had a major impact at UMBC, with high visibility and support from all levels. As a research partner during both Phases I and II, we decided to include all of our doctoral programs in the data collection effort, and in discussions and assessment of intervention strategies. Established in 1966, UMBC is a young university, and several of our doctoral programs are in their early stages. Therefore, we are promoting holistic approaches to doctoral education as traditions in these programs are forming. At monthly meetings with graduate program directors, we discuss policies and practices and analyze their impact on retention and degree completion.

The Ph.D. Completion Project activities have been integrated with PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) and our other grant-funded initiatives such as the Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows program supported by an NIH NIGMS (MBRS Initiative for Minority Student Development) training grant, the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) fellow grants in 5 departments, and the NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) in environmental science, engineering and policy.

As a consequence of this level of involvement, all administrative university departments and services were tapped by the university President to examine ways they could be more supportive, welcoming, and responsive to doctoral students. The services ranged across the university and included units such as athletics, financial aid, counseling, career services, food services, and transportation—every unit was involved to ensure that greater sensitivity was addressed in procedures, schedules, activities, and services provided. At UMBC, the University is the mentor in concert with the faculty mentor.

The article "The University as Mentor: Lessons Learned from UMBC Inclusiveness Initiatives" further describes our comprehensive approach to doctoral student success that enhances and augments the one-on-one student-mentor relationship with increased oversight, monitoring and support by the broader campus community. Integral to this success is the investment of the entire university in their role within the mentoring process.

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The Featured Profile* section highlights partner universities that have developed creative and/or effective approaches to optimizing Ph.D. completion, particularly for underrepresented minorities and women. Featured Profiles may include details about the structure and design of the project, the shape and effectiveness of implementation, results of recent or ongoing data analyses, and/or information about notable project leaders. For more general profiles of each participating university (including contact information and a list of participating programs), please see Project Participants.

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*If you would like your university to be featured in this section, please contact Nathan Bell.

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