1st candidate in search for Associate Provost for Research and Graduate education shares ways to combat modern graduate school issues

Leo Bertucci

The first open forum for the Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Education search commenced inside on Monday where the candidate discussed the largest challenges higher education is facing.

Brandy Randall, who is currently the associate dean for the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies at North Dakota State University, holds a doctorate in developmental psychology and a master’s in social personality psychology.

Randall believes that the largest issues challenging higher education in the United States today are student loan debt, the failure to meet enrollment goals, the competition for international students, and a general lack of trust in higher education.

When state governments slash education funding, tuition rates rise and therefore student loan debt grows as well, Randall said.

Rather than increasing tuition rates as a method for increasing revenue, Randall suggested that graduate schools identify new sources of revenue.

“Certainly, we are seeing an increase in the pace of closures and the institutions that are going to be left at the time of this disruption are going to be the ones who are flexible and responsive and who are creative,” Randall said.

When prospective students are looking for important information on a graduate school website, Randall said the school needs to ensure that the information students are looking for can be easily found.

“If they have to go through too many clicks in order to get where they’re going, they just give up and they look at another institution,” Randall said.

Randall believes by promoting graduate education to students in many countries, WKU can widen its international graduate student population.

“There is still something about having a degree from a U.S. institution that carries some weight internationally,” Randall said.

As for how faculty members can improve the reputation of WKU’s graduate programs, Randall said that faculty members need to prepare to state multiple reasons why WKU has outstanding opportunities for graduate students.

Randall hopes that her ideas will benefit WKU’s graduate program.

“I do not believe any barrier is insurmountable,” Randall said. “There is always a way with the will and creativity.”

News reporter Leo Bertucci can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @leober2chee.