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UND has lost its "doctoral institution" status a yearly report widely distributed to the nation's university professionals revealed. This signifies a downward trend in advanced degrees awarded at UND since the 1970s, despite record university enrollments the past decade.

Graduate School Dean Duncan Perry says the number of graduate students has continued to be steady and he doubts the school has lost much ability, if any to compete for research dollars. Alice Clark, vice president of academic affairs, says she would like to see UND keep its doctoral status, however.

With UND doctoral degrees dipping to 29 last year. North Dakota became the only state in the nation besides Maine without a "Category 1" doctoral institution in listings of the American Association of University Professors. UND dropped from Category 1 to Category 2A. According to AAUP guidelines, the 2A category is for institutions offering comprehensive post-baccalaureate programs but not a significant level of doctoral activity. (The statistics don't count law and medical degrees).

The listings published yearly in the AAUP'a annual comparisons of more than 3,000 campuses, are sent to more than 43,000 people in the academic community.  The report is widely distributed to administrators, college recruiters and legislators, according to Iris Molotsky, a spokeswoman for the association in Washington, D.C.

A look at UNDís statistics indicates that while the university's overall enrollment has climbed nearly one-third in the past decade, the number of doctoral degrees awarded has dropped by 30 percent.  During the '80s, UND issued on average 38 doctoral degrees a year, compared with an average of 54 a year through the '70s. The number of master's degrees awarded has dropped by 20 percent. UNDís problems do not seem to reflect a national trend, said Richard Balsley, director of institutional research at UND.

Trying to shore up graduate programs is part of UND's strategic plan. Clark says the university wants to focus on quality rather than quantity in its graduate school enrollment. But she said it was important to her that UND had a strong enough program to be considered a doctoral institution.

Clark said, "We're still many, many thousands of dollars away from what other institutions are offering in graduate stipends. It's very difficult to get students to come into doctoral program unless there's someone really outstanding on the campus they want to work with.

Chemistry professor A. William Johnson, dean of the graduate school from 1967 to 1988, said, national status as a doctoral institution "makes a difference in the kind of faculty you can attract" as well as competition for certain research funding.  "To the extent you want to be known as a research institution, the quality and quantity of your doctoral programs matters."  Johnson added, You hear talk about economic development in the state. That doesn't spin off from undergraduate programs. It spins off graduate research programs. Without active and visible research programs, the state is giving up the opportunity, to participate in many developments.

As of the posting of this article, 2 December 2000, UND's academic status continues to slide.

Grand Forks Herald, June 11, 1990