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IHE NOTES: New Comp System and Strategic Plan

New Comprehensive Exam System

PhD students now have the option to take their written comprehensive exams as a three-week evaluation. Previously, candidates reported to Meigs Hall and sat for the exam in a four-hour block. Students who matriculated before 2019 may elect their preferred format, but the new system is popular. 

Lindsey Hammond
Lindsey Hammond celebrates the conclusion of her dissertation defense.

Erik Ness met with students to review the new option, noting that “student responses should show greater complexity and a deeper understanding of the landscape as a whole, rather than focus too narrowly on their topics, theories, and preferred methodologies.” In addition to raising expectations of academic rigor and broader exploration of topics, the move also proved fortuitous. Faculty had experience with several testing cycles in 2019 before travel restrictions limited testing to remote-only this spring. 

Dissertation defenses also moved successfully online this spring. Hosting the meetings through Zoom, the Institute was one of the first units at the University of Georgia to conduct a defense online on March 30. Through April, three additional candidates held their defenses in a mix of closed and open sessions, at the discretion of the candidate.



Roadmap for the Future: Strategic Plan 2025

The faculty of the Institute adopted a new five-year strategic plan in June. Within the overarching strategic directions of excellence in instruction and learning, in research and innovation, and in service and outreach, the unit goals target curricular innovations, integration of outreach programs with co-curricular and curricular learning opportunities, and expanded internal and external partnerships in research, instruction, and other strategic collaborations.

The faculty worked with a facilitation team, led by Sayge Medlin, from the J.W. Fanning Institute of Leadership Development to revise the Institute’s mission and value statements and to develop a process for generating ideas and direction for the 2025 Strategic Plan. Ms. Medlin presented the aggregate response data to surveys, sent to three vital community groups: Institute graduates, current students, and faculty and staff. 

The faculty developed the plan goals and performance indicators through the spring during a series of seven Zoom meetings led by IHE director Libby V. Morris. As IHE goals took shape, faculty members participated in one of three teams, corresponding to the strategic directions. These teams, led by Amy Stich, James Hearn, and Leslie Gordon, refined specific goals and performance indicators and presented them for review by the full faculty through June.

The full plan and revised mission and vision statements are available on our website: 

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