The Office of Graduate Education and Life at West Virginia University, which is responsible for graduate education academic program planning and performance review, will report administratively to the Office of the Provost through the Office of the Vice President for Research in keeping with the institution’s goal of strengthening its research programs.

The change, which takes effect Sept. 1, comes following an announcement by Jonathan Cumming, that he did not elect to seek reappointment as associate provost for graduate academic affairs. Dr. Cumming has led the office since it was created in 2007.

“The last five years was a great opportunity for me to develop programs to help our graduate students prepare for their futures,” Cumming said. “As the university moves forward, this foundation will provide the support to attain WVU’s 2020 goals. During this period, I had continued my academic scholarship, although at a lower level, and truly missed training grad students and teaching undergraduates about the wonders of environmental science.

“That was my calling and I’m looking forward to rejoining my faculty colleagues in this pursuit,” said Cumming, a professor of biology.

Provost Michele Wheatly praised Cumming’s shepherding the office’s creation and its first five years.

“Under Dr. Cumming’s leadership, the office has enjoyed an array of accomplishments including the development of the Graduate Academy, establishment as an office dedicated to graduate student support and advocacy, working with Institutional Research to develop metrics for the assessment of graduate programs and implementation of an online application process for graduate students,” she said.

“Dr. Cumming’s decision has enabled WVU’s administration and faculty leadership teams to reconsider the best administrative ‘home’ for Grad Ed and Life,” she said.

“WVU aspires to attain national research prominence and Goal 2 of Strategic Plan 2020 calls for ‘improved and expanded graduate education with strengthened connection to the University’s research enterprise’,” she said.

Wheatly noted that most of WVU’s aspirational peer land-grant institutions (Carnegie Classification Very High Research Activity) have graduate education administratively linked to research.

“The role of graduate education has always been two-fold: advancing the frontiers of human knowledge and preparing individuals to utilize that knowledge for the benefit of society,” said Fred King, WVU’s interim vice president for research. “The change planned at WVU is formalization of the close relationship between scholarly discovery and the education of students who engage in such discovery. Aligning these endeavors more closely will enhance the synergy between these areas to advance discovery and engagement at WVU. It will also facilitate further advances in interdisciplinary efforts to address important problems facing our world.”

Dr. Katherine Karraker, a psychology professor and associate dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, has been named the interim associate provost for graduate academic affairs. In this capacity and through her leadership of the Office of Graduate Education and Life, she will report through Dr. King to the provost.

“I am excited about this opportunity to contribute to WVU’s mission to provide excellent graduate education and am looking forward to working with Provost Wheatly and Dr. King in the coming months,” Karraker said. “I hope to continue the good work done by Dr. Cumming in enhancing and supporting graduate education.”



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