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Research and the Doctoral Difference

President Michael Driscoll

One quality that differentiates IUP from its sister schools in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education is that we alone grant the doctorate of philosophy, or PhD, in a number of disciplines. The PhD is a research-based doctoral degree, as opposed to one that is applied or professional. Because of this, IUP is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a Doctoral/Research institution. By general rule of thumb, Doctoral/Research institutions award at least 20 PhD degrees each year. In fact, IUP awarded more than 40 in May alone.

You might wonder why that distinction is important for IUP and how it affects you.

The better prepared today’s students are to meet and exceed the challenges the future will bring, the better off we all will be.

Teacher-scholars—the faculty members who actively conduct grant-funded research, publish their findings, and strive to patent intellectual property—have a profound effect on the students they teach. Greg Kenning, featured elsewhere in this edition, is an example.

The American Association of Colleges & Universities has declared that in this century, all students—all, not graduate students alone—must master the arts of inquiry and innovation. It also recommends that all institutions increase the number of opportunities for students to work with faculty members and others on research.

An AAC&U study reinforces what we already know: That student success and engagement, particularly on the undergraduate level, directly correlate to the amount of research faculty members do. And students who do research gain the soft skills, like critical thinking and teamwork, that employers demand.

Naturally, a university that awards research doctoral degrees promotes more research activity.

To ensure we foster faculty scholarly activity, we have started, in partnership with the IUP Research Institute, a mentoring program that matches up more seasoned faculty members with those who want to reach higher in their sponsored research activities.

We want our faculty members to be out there on the cutting edge of their fields, doing work that will make our world a better place. By supporting that and encouraging faculty members to involve their students, we know they’ll pass along to them knowledge, passion, and curiosity.

The chain reaction goes like this: The better prepared today’s students are to meet and exceed the challenges the future will bring, the better off we all will be.

Michael A. Driscoll