Building the Graduate Education Enterprise

It’s been very exciting to see our campus come back to life after the holiday break. I hope that everyone had a happy new year and I welcome you back.

As I am sure you have heard, Stevens was named one of the nation’s top providers of online graduate programs in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. Stevens’ programs ranked high across the board in our computer information technology, business (excluding MBA), engineering and MBA programs, and we took the top spot in New Jersey.

Dr. Christophe Pierre, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

We should all be proud of this achievement and I congratulate everyone involved in making it possible. These rankings reflect not only the excellence of our StevensOnline platform, but also the strength of graduate programs across the university; they are a sign that we are on the right track as we continue to build our graduate education enterprise.

Growing and diversifying graduate studies at Stevens is a critical part of our ten-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create. Graduate programs enable Stevens to contribute research and scholarship to the world at large while educating a large cadre of advanced professionals in technological fields critical to our nation’s competitiveness, security and prosperity. They enhance our community’s intellectual vitality while building our reputation for excellence. To accomplish this, we are engaged in a number of activities and initiatives.

During this academic year, our Schools and College are busy recruiting new faculty. In addition to the 30 new faculty that joined this past fall and this spring, we currently have 30 faculty searches underway, with some already completed. In conjunction with our outstanding students, new and current best-in-class faculty will continue to help propel Stevens forward in research and learning. 

Last fall, I appointed Dr. Costas Chassapis as Vice Provost for Graduate Education. He is working with the units that belong to the Office of Graduate Education, including Graduate Admissions, Continuing and Professional Education, WebCampus, Graduate Student Affairs, Graduate Academics; and the schools, their graduate programs and other offices to build on our momentum in graduate education and to improve the student experience.

Growing StevensOnline

We are growing StevensOnline through a number of awareness campaigns in an effort to expand our reach to students who require options beyond traditional on-campus learning. After launching in fall 2017 with 30 students, StevensOnline now has more than 225 enrolled students, with more than 80 of them joining this semester. 

StevensOnline is helping us continue to attract students in a highly competitive arena.

We continue to tell the Stevens’ story to prospective students across the globe. Staff members from the Office of Graduate Admissions and faculty and academic administrators from the Schools regularly travel abroad to recruit high-quality students. In fact, some of them are on a trip in Asia right now. They also regularly welcome potential students to campus at open houses and virtually through webinars.

Improving graduate education at Stevens also means meeting the needs of our current students.

We have undertaken a number of initiatives to get feedback and insight from students. These include the “Pizza with the Provost” sessions that began in the fall. I found these gatherings to be enormously informative — and enjoyable  and I look forward to hosting another group of graduate students this spring.

In addition, we are eager to encourage our undergraduates to pursue a graduate degree at Stevens to help prepare them for the demands of the industry and future professional growth. This academic year, we introduced the Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) to make it easier than ever for our undergraduate students to pursue a master’s degree sequentially. Our long-term goal is to have half of our undergraduate students pursue a master's degree at Stevens via the AMP.

An information session hosted by the School of Engineering and Science for AMP on January 23 drew approximately 200 students. It is gratifying to see that so many of our students are interested in pursuing advanced studies. The School of Business will also be hosting an open house next Wednesday, February 6, for all interested Business students.

Meeting Challenges

We do, of course, face challenges to increase our graduate enrollment and diversify our student population.

Stevens operates in a highly competitive marketplace. Other universities are greatly expanding their graduate degree offerings. Political developments often affect our ability to recruit international students. Several countries are developing higher education systems that keep their students at home. Even the current strong economy has a detrimental effect; some students who may have paused their careers to earn graduate degrees are instead remaining in the workforce.

But I am confident that despite obstacles, we will make new strides in this important endeavor and provide high-quality, nationally recognized graduate programs that will help build our academic community and our prestige.

My best wishes for a successful spring semester.