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Chemistry Ph.D. Data-Based Decisions


Concern: In 2019, the Graduate Recruiting Committee collected, analyzed, and reported data concerning recruitment efforts, outcomes, and expenditures from the past several years. The analysis clearly showed that our application numbers have been in decline for several years, with only 32 total applications (Chemistry and Biochemistry – PhD and Masters) last year to fill the eight graduate student positions we ultimately brought in. (It is important to know that the eight we brought in was 3-4 students short of our goal, but we simply did not have qualified applicants available to fill all of the positions).

Proposed Solutions: In 2019, the Graduate Recruiting Committee devised a list of proposed approaches to increase the number of graduate student application. These are outlined below. The Department will also continue its Summer Undergraduate Research Program and annual faculty recruiting visits to local Universities.

  • Hire an undergraduate student from the Department of Journalism and Communication to assist us in developing/enhancing our social media presence so that we are more visible to applicants and to provide a platform for sharing information about our Department and graduate opportunities. Also, work with the undergraduate student to develop a recruiting flyer that will be shared via social media and postal service (mailings will target faculty contacts at local “feeder schools”.
  • Waive the graduate application fee ($55) for all of our applicants. Our Department worked with the Graduate School to generate and distribute “promo-codes” that could be entered by the applicant to waive the need to include payment information. The fee for that application could then be charged directly to the Department.

Evaluation: As of Spring 2020, we do not have enough data about student application numbers to assess the effects of these changes. Data will be collected and assessed over the next few years.


Concern: Some faculty noted that there was not adequate discussion about student progress on professional development skills during the Annual Supervisory Committee meetings.

Proposed Solution
: In Spring 2019, a Graduate Student Skills Matrix was developed by the Biochemistry Division. Students were asked to perform self-assessment for each skill listed in the matrix before the Annual Meeting. Student self-assessment and Committee assessment was then discussed during the meeting. Based on the success of the Skills Matrix in the Biochemistry Division, the Chemistry Division decided in Fall 2019 to begin implementing a Skills Matrix in Spring 2020.

Evaluation: The usefulness of the Skills Matrix will be evaluated during the next few years.