School: A Challenging - and wonderful - rite of passage
for the new scholar
Being a graduate student is a wonderful life, says
Joseph Benoit as he reflects upon the roughly 2,000
men and women at UND who are enrolled in UND’s
56 master’s and 22 doctoral programs.
Here to both expand their knowledge of their respective
fields and to hone their investigative and analytical
skills, these students — especially the more
than 500 seeking the Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees —
also are vital to the University’s growing research
Most will look back upon this period as the most intense
and stimulating of their lives, says Benoit, dean
of the Graduate School. A large part of this derives
from the close collaborative relationships that develop
with faculty, a process that ends with students becoming
lifelong colleagues of their mentors.
More so than is the case with undergraduates, these
students are most often drawn to UND by the opportunity
to study with professors who have established reputations
as scholars in their fields.
“At the heart of what this institution wants
to be, with respect to both graduate education and
research, is the need to retain and recruit faculty
who are active researchers as well as excellent teachers,”
he says, “and then to give them the flexibility
to be both.”
Benoit came to UND in 2001 from the University of
South Alabama, where he was professor of physiology
and director of graduate studies. A Ph.D. in the basic
medical sciences, he still finds time to continue
his own research, which focuses on the vascular and
lymphatic systems in health and disease.
He arrived on campus just as UND kicked off a new
strategic plan. A major goal is to achieve doctoral/research-extensive
status as determined by the Carnegie Foundation. The
University already is classified as a Carnegie doctoral/research-intensive
institution, a ranking it shares with just 62 other
The plan also calls for graduate students —
including those who are resident on the campus and
those who study at a distance — to make up a
larger proportion of UND’s total enrollment.
Since 1991, the Graduate School, already the second-largest
in its region, has grown by more than 25 percent.
Enrollment this fall rose to 2,045, up by 151 students
from last year. Doctoral students numbered 516, up
136 from 2003.
UND awarded its first master’s degree in 1895
and its first Ph.D. in 1914.