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.