LSU Graduate School Dean Candidate Gary Byerly Gives Presentation
BATON ROUGE – The final of three candidates for the deanship of the LSU Graduate School discussed during a presentation to LSU faculty, staff and students on Dec. 7 how he would work to enhance the school’s diversity, affordability and recruiting efforts, among other topics.
Gary Byerly, a professor in the LSU Department of Geology & Geophysics and an associate dean in the LSU College of Science, gave a public presentation of his vision for the Graduate School in the Holliday Forum, located in the Journalism Building.
Byerly, who has worked at LSU for the past 34 years, said that working in graduate education has been “one of the most gratifying parts of my career.”
During his presentation, Byerly noted that he felt the dean of the Graduate School will have an important role in the future of the university.
“I think there’s a responsibility involved with being the dean of the graduate school, and that reward comes with that responsibility,” he said. “The dean needs to advocate for students and programs, be a conscientious steward of university resources and also be a visionary for future change.”
Byerly added that he feels that graduate education is “broken,” and is in need of change in order to get back on track. One such problem he addressed is the drop in recruitment of international students.
“It’s hard to recruit international students nowadays,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma in place after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. International students are a very important part of the Graduate School. Many of them, upon receiving their graduate degree, do stay in the U.S. and go on to be great contributors to our society. We can’t overlook that.”
If named dean, Byerly said, he would work to increase fundraising efforts for strategic programs to make obtaining a graduate education more accessible, affordable and inclusive. These include minority-based scholarships and grants.
“Many graduate students don’t complete their degree program because they can’t afford to do so while also supporting a family,” he said. “We need to find ways to make a graduate education possible for everyone. For example, I’d like to increase funding for current programs such as the Huel Perkins Fellowship, which supports recruitment of qualified Ph.D. students from communities that may be underrepresented in their respective field of study.”
Byerly also said that he felt graduate educators should not look to simply create clones of themselves, but must look at the changing world and educate their students on how to be adaptable. He added that in many European universities, graduate students are trained to work in fields other than education or research.
“We need new and more flexible degree programs that address economic needs and career goals of students,” he said. “Too many graduate students are unhappy because we don’t let them experience as much as undergraduates. We’re not letting them explore beyond a narrow vision. It’s the responsibility of the dean to have conversations on how to better this situation.”
Other goals Byerly presented included implementing new policies to give graduate departments greater flexibility; working to create a new strategic plan with input from the Graduate Council, colleges and departments; and developing shared plans for growth, retention and timely graduation, among others.
Following his presentation, Byerly fielded questions from the audience on topics such as how he would sustain the breadth of graduate programs and how he would enhance the resources of the school, among other topics.
Previously, Byerly served as graduate advisor and department chair in the LSU Department of Geology & Geophysics. He also served on the University Planning Council. Byerly has been a visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, where he is also a consulting professor. For more information on Byerly, view his curriculum vitae online at www.lsu.edu/pa/pdf/grad_dean_vita/byerly.pdf.
Over the past six days, the three candidates for the position were interviewed and gave presentations that were open to the entire LSU community. The presentations were followed by open question-and-answer sessions, led by the candidates.
Joining Byerly as candidates for the position are:
- Kevin Cope, a professor in the LSU English Department and member of the faculty of comparative literature. He is currently president of the LSU Faculty Senate. More information on Cope is available at www.lsu.edu/pa/pdf/grad_dean_vita/cope.pdf.
- Michelle Massé, a professor in the LSU Department of English who previously served as director of the university’s women’s and gender studies program and as the director of graduate studies for the Department of English. More information on Massé is available at www.lsu.edu/pa/pdf/grad_dean_vita/masse.pdf.