Innovations in Graduate Education

This initiative supports several goals that have been outlined in the Academic Plan:  graduate enrollment growth, programmatic innovation and excellence, and greater diversity. Meeting the current challenges and capitalizing on future opportunities in graduate education will necessitate enhanced opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and research; professional development activities that prepare students for multiple career pathways; effective recruitment and retention strategies leading to a more diverse student body; more robust intellectual communities; and new, innovative graduate programs that prepare leaders and professionals to meet the fast-paced changes and pressing social and economic needs of the future.

Typically, the Innovations program has two tracks, one that highlights a particular theme identified as a priority by the Graduate School ("Track 1" themes have included multiple career pathways (2011-12) and graduate specializations (2012-13)) and another with a recurring focus on diversity in graduate education ("Track 2"). The Innovations program was launched by the Graduate School in 2010-11, with the first round of supported innovations commencing in the 2011-12 academic year.

Previously-Funded Innovations in Graduate Education:

2011 - 2012:
Track I - Enriching Interdisciplinary Learning in Graduate Education
Track II - Recruitment and Retention of a More Diverse Student Body and Program

2012 - 2013:
Track I - Preparing Students for Careers Both In and Beyond the Academy
Track II - Recruitment and Retention of a More Diverse Student Body and Program

2013 - 2014:
Track I - Supporting Graduate Specializations
Track II - Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Graduate Students

Current Innovations Call:

Focus on Professional Development

Through the Innovation in Graduate Education program, the Graduate School supports the promotion of excellence, innovation, and diversity in graduate education.  This year, up to five awards of up to $4,000 will be made. 

As you know, one of our 2013-2014 priorities is to support innovative professional development opportunities for graduate students.  We seek proposals from Directors of Graduate Studies, Graduate Coordinators/Secretaries and academic units that truly innovate or seek to innovate a particular aspect of graduate student professional development.  “Professional development” is broadly defined to include:

  • Research project management (grant writing, budget planning and management, managing people, setting goals)
  • Communication skills (mentoring, collaboration, networking)
  • Teaching competence
  • Leadership and professionalism
  • Active career planning (identifying and marketing one’s own strengths, creating an individual development plan (IDP), strengthening one’s knowledge of the job market, honing one’s elevator speech or interview skills, improving one’s CV and other documents)
  • Ethics and the responsible conduct of research
  • The ability to instill good citizenship in students, supervisees, mentees

Although sending graduate students to meetings is important to their professional development, it is not the intent of this program. Examples of what might be funded include (not a comprehensive list):

  • Developing a career or professional development-centered workshop or workshop series
  • Hosting an outside speaker with an emphasis on professional development
  • Activities that engage students with potential employers and/or enhance their competitiveness for jobs inside or outside the academy


Proposals that do some or all of the following will be the most competitive:

  • Put forward activities that are new, bold, or adapt strategies with demonstrable success either at UO or another institution.
  • Give attention to assessment for the purpose of documenting the project’s success and improvement will be the most competitive.
  • Benefit both the students and department.
  • Indicate the potential to sustain successful projects beyond the period of Graduate School funding. (If matching funds or in-kind contributions are being provided by departments, research institutes/centers, or deans, please include a brief written commitment of support.)
  • Involve partnership with other campus units (e.g., other graduate programs, centers/institutes, school/college-based career centers, the Teaching Effectiveness Program, or the UO Career Center)

Application Process: Proposers may be faculty and staff who are engaged, or would like to be engaged, in professional development for graduate students.  Graduate students may also participate as proposers in this process, so long as a faculty/staff member is the primary proposer. Interested parties should submit a proposal of no more than three pages that includes the following information:

  • Application cover sheet with relevant signatures
  • Description of, rationale for, and timeline of the proposed activities;
  •  Budget and budget narrative, explaining exactly how the requested financial support will be used;
  • Discussion of how the activities could or will be continued activities beyond the period of funding from the Graduate School; and
  • If applicable, letter(s) of support that include the commitment to match some or all of the funds.

Submit all materials by email as a single PDF by February 21, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. to Marcia Walker (  Please use “Innovation Track I” as the subject line to ensure proper routing.


Decision and Funding: A committee drawn from the Graduate School and the Graduate Council will select the finalists from among the submissions.  Awardees will be notified by Friday, March 15. Award funds will be distributed in spring or summer 2014.

Because another of our priorities is to foster the sharing of innovative ideas across graduate programs, the award recipients will:

  • Share their professional development strategies with the Graduate School and Directors of Graduate Studies and Graduate Coordinators/Secretaries during the spring 2014, fall 2014, or spring 2015 meeting. We will work with you to select a date that best fits your timeline.
  • Provide a short written description of the project/activity for sharing on the Graduate School website.
  • Within one year, provide the Graduate School with an evaluation of the efficacy of the project and an update regarding plans to continue, modify, or discontinue.

Questions: If you would like to discuss the suitability of your proposal for funding under these guidelines or other questions, contact Andy Berglund (, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, before the deadline.




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