"Access to graduate education is a high priority in Florida if we
are to succeed as a dynamic, prosperous and competitive state,"
- President John V. Lombardi
The University of Florida has more than 7,000 graduate students from every state and more than 100 foreign countries who contribute in countless ways to its intellectual and social character.
But, given its undergraduate enrollment, its academic quality and its research base, UF can, and should, host an even larger graduate population. In an effort to get close to the median of our peer institutions in the Association of American Universities, UF President John Lombardi has proposed increasing graduate enrollment by 700 students in the 1998-99 academic year.
"Access to graduate education is a high priority in Florida if we are to succeed as a dynamic, prosperous and competitive state," Lombardi says.
Doing the Right Thing
In recent years, the Graduate School has taken a more active role in promoting graduate education on campus and around the state. In 1996, UF worked with other graduate-degree-granting institutions in Florida to produce a booklet titled "Graduate Education: Doing the Right Thing for Florida," which outlined the economic, academic and social impact of Florida's more than 38,000 graduate students. The booklet has been a valuable tool for explaining the importance of graduate education to a wide variety of constituencies - including legislators, business leaders, the media and the general public.
In 1994, UF began a comprehensive strategic planning process that resulted in a plan titled "Responsive Leadership for Tomorrow." This strategic plan described the new national climate for graduate education and identified UF's strengths and weaknesses. The university created a series of task forces to address issues raised during the planning process, including recruitment, evaluation of program quality and sources of support.
Among the ways the university has tried to make itself more attractive to top graduate students is by developing innovative new ways to earn an advanced degree. These include programs that allow students to transition into a master's program as undergraduate seniors so they can attain both a bachelor's and master's degree in five years. These programs currently are available in the colleges of Engineering, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Business.
Other novel approaches to graduate education include dual-degree programs between the colleges of Law, Business and Education. Business also offers opportunities to combine an MBA with other master's degrees. UF also is participating in inter-institutional programs with Florida State University, and the universities of Central Florida and South Florida.
Best and Brightest
To be more competitive for the nation's top graduate students, the Office of Research, Technology and Graduate Education (ORTGE) has established the Named Presidential Fellowships.
An impressive first class of 15 students from around the country are now attending UF on fellowships named after one of the university's nine presidents. Whenever possible, the president named on a fellowship and the student share an academic discipline.
The fellows are nominated by the colleges and selected on the basis of their academic credentials. In addition to their scholarly pursuits, the fellows will participate in special activities as a group.
In response to a perceived need for better graduate recruiting tools, ORTGE has worked with the colleges to develop a colorful, high-quality graduate recruitment poster that can be tailored to specific programs with matching tear-off cards.
Theses and Dissertations
Another exciting initiative at the Graduate School is a pilot program to begin accepting theses and dissertations electronically. UF is one of a growing number of institutions around the country pursuing electronic theses and dissertations (ETD).
Within the next few years, graduate students will be able to submit electronic versions of their theses and dissertations, complete with links to the World Wide Web and embedded audio and video if they like. ETDs offer greater access to scholarly work, expand the type of scholarship that can be included in master's or doctoral work and save library shelf space.
Future issues of Explore magazine will address these and other graduate education issues in greater detail. For more information about graduate education at the University of Florida, visit the Graduate School web page at