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University of Iowa News Release

June 4, 2003

University Of Iowa Releases Graduate Survey Results

The Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Program and the University of Iowa Graduate College announce the release of results from "The University of Iowa Graduate Programs Climate Study." This comprehensive study of graduate education, the first of its scope nationwide, will serve as a template for climate studies at other universities.

Information from the study provides insights on the experience of UI students in 79 doctoral programs across campus. The study was developed to identify issues important to a successful graduate experience and included questions related to employment, advising, mentoring and perceptions of support. Participation was entirely voluntary and confidential.

John Keller, dean of the UI Graduate College, said the study findings support current initiatives and suggest areas in which the university could take action to benefit current and future graduate students. "The survey process increases communication and accountability, and the data will help the university as it continues to seek resources to develop services that benefit graduate students and department faculty," he said. The study may open opportunities for possible participation in national grant programs to help fund improvement processes.

The study began as a WISE project to assess campus climate for UI graduate women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). "We've spent years listening to students, gathering anecdotal information about their experience as graduate students at the University of Iowa," said Chris Brus, director of WISE. "It became obvious that issues affecting the successful progress of women in STEM graduate programs were, to a great degree, the same issues affecting the success of any graduate student." The project expanded to include the entire graduate student population.

More than 40 percent of the doctoral students at the UI responded to the survey. Faculty support for graduate work receives high marks, and the majority of students report the availability of a mentor in their department. Most students receive financial assistance for their graduate studies, and the study highlights the importance of support services the university offers underrepresented populations.

The results also indicate that some students perceive the need for balance between family and studies, and some seek an increase in responsiveness from their departments to help address this. Although many students are very satisfied with the advising they receive, some are looking for more formalized advising processes. A number of students ask for continued efforts to retain women and minority students, and some express the need for a clearer focus on training for teaching.

The WISE "Graduate Programs Climate Study" is one of several enabling the UI to examine its graduate programs. Other studies include the 2003 Graduate College Self Study, which is part of a regularly scheduled evaluation of the college. Further information on these studies will be available at the "Symposium on the Future of Graduate and Doctoral Education at the University of Iowa," to be held on the UI campus during the 2003-2004 academic year. This discussion forum will focus on the quality of graduate education at the UI, the impact on our communities, and plans for continued improvement.

For more information on "The University of Iowa Graduate Programs Climate Study" results, please visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, Program: Chris Peterson Brus, Director, Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), 319-335-3530,; John C. Keller, Dean, Graduate College, 319-335-2142, Jennifer Masada, external relations director, Graduate College