Redefine the Roles of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Placement Officer

We recommend that the director of graduate studies (DGS) role be expanded to include responsibility for the transformation of graduate education. The DGS, in collaboration with other members of the department, should develop plans to move a doctoral program toward reduced time to degree, to restructure curricula and examinations, to redefine the dissertation, and to implement the other agenda points for change discussed in this report. DGSs should become the leading advocates for changing doctoral programs in the modern languages and literatures. Identifying the DGS as the spearhead of this initiative will accelerate change and guarantee that it remains a constant concern in the department. Departments should support the graduate office and the DGS. We also urge DGSs in departments across the modern languages and literatures in the same institution to exchange experiences and collaborate with one another.

Many departments, especially larger ones, already assign to one faculty member the responsibility of supporting and monitoring the progress of those graduate students going on the job market. We urge smaller departments to appoint a faculty member as placement officer or to collaborate with other small departments.

As the range of career profiles expands, both within and outside higher education, the understanding of placement and placement strategies must similarly evolve. Placement officers will need to develop familiarity with the full range of careers in higher education—both teaching and nonteaching—and with matters associated with nonacademic placement. It is particularly important that they be well-informed about relevant on-campus offices and their staff, including institutional placement offices, career development offices, and the alumni office. Because placement, whether academic or nonacademic, can be helped by personal connections, it is crucial for departments to maintain their alumni networks and maintain contact with graduates well into their post-PhD career.

[Next recommendation: Validate Diverse Career Outcomes]