January 9, 1997

The Cyclical Problems of Graduate Education and Institutional Responses in the 1990s

When in January, 1900, five university presidents–Charles William Eliot of Harvard, William Rainey Harper of Chicago, Benjamin Ide Wheeler of California,  Seth Low of Columbia, and Daniel Coit Gilman of Johns Hopkins–invited nine other United States university presidents to meet in the  following  month in  Chicago  for the purpose of forming a permanent organization devoted to  “matters of  common  interest  relating to graduate study,” none of them guessed that  graduate education would become a major enterprise in the United States.

Spearheaded by President Wheeler, this group of fourteen created the American Association of Universities (AAU)  and set out to unify  and improve the standards for the award of  higher degrees at American  universities. These  men had received  their  advanced education abroad, most of them in German universities–the world’s leading scholarly institutions at the turn of the century, and were eager to transplant the new form of scholarship they  encountered there into their own institutions, In so doing, they hoped to stem the flow of able graduate students abroad and attract them to American universities for advanced study  instead. Little did they know that some eighty years later graduate education in  the United States would  become a much sought after commodity and that students from countries all around the world, including Germany, would flock to American universities for their graduate education.

Nerad, M., June, R., & Miller, D. (1997). The Cyclical Problems of Graduate Education: Institutional Responses in the 1990s, In M. Nerad, R. June, & D. Miller, Graduate Education in the United States, pp. vii-xiv, New York: Garland Press.

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