Graduate Culture at Lincoln University
Most Lincoln University student population is graduate students. So, making graduate culture the predominant culture of the school, and creating a healthy environment for students is extremely vital to the success of the school. For all the formal requirements that it entails, graduate education goes far beyond curriculum - it fosters and thrives on a specific culture of interaction and communication between students, and between students and faculty as well as among faculty as such. Its primary feature is collegiality and support for innovative thinking and research. Graduate school culture encourages faculty members to actively seek out students who exhibit creativity and ambition, assist them in setting up seminars and conferences where they can present their projects and broader intellectual agenda in the receptive yet critical environment. The university engages students to become a part of an intellectual community by providing the space and resources, for their scholarly activity.
Very significant is the development of a mentor-protege relationship between faculty and the students. Graduate school is a time of active exploration and experimentation - not just didactic learning. Our faculty members are able and willing not just to provide guidance and advice to the students whose work they supervise but also share with them their own research and their own academic and/or professional agenda. Graduate students' innovative approach and "fresh eyes" might - and do - often contribute to the development of this research and agenda in dramatic and unexpected ways.
A separate facet of the graduate school culture is the necessity to sustain and increase collegial exchange among faculty members: public talks about one's current research, regular round-table discussions on key topics of interest with the participation of graduate students, a line-up of relevant guest-speakers - all these initiatives greatly enrich and improve the culture of graduate education, the work and careers of both faculty and the students. This happens during regular faculty meetings, student projects discussions, seminars, and thesis defenses.
Mentorship is an essential part of the graduate experience. Faculty are expected to guide students by providing clear expectations of program requirements, offering guidelines for writing a thesis or dissertation, evaluating work regularly, and encouraging open exchange of ideas. Faculty also inspires professional development by exhibiting high ethical standards, participating in professional activities, and offering career guidance. Many Lincoln University faculty members are successful practitioners, and bring their practical experience to the classroom as well as to their relationships with students. Students gain working knowledge and are better prepared for entry into a professional field or to enhance their careers. Teaching Assistant positions (common in the university) offer graduate students additional opportunities to learn from faculty, to become mentors themselves, and to grow academically and professionally.
One benefit of being a small university is that students, faculty and staff get to know each other well. To facilitate interactions and create a sense of community on campus, the Admissions Department, Student Services Department, and Lincoln University Student Association (LUSA) plan many events throughout the year, and faculty and administrative staff are highly encouraged to participate.
The Library and the Computer Lab provide graduate students with the space for collaborative learning, access to resources that support academic research, and assistance to navigate the tools and gain confidence. Lincoln University's Multidisciplinary Research Center (MRC) provides interested students a forum to investigate, discuss and present research topics. The goal of the MRC is to apply a multidisciplinary approach to solve complex problems, focusing on both fundamental and applied research. In addition, some instructors work with graduate students to conduct, publish, and present research projects for peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed forums.
Lincoln University wants to improve upon our commitment to scholarship and research, and to build a stronger community of student learners and scholars and a more fully developed graduate culture. To do this, Lincoln University will explore: (1) adopting practices that encourage graduate students and faculty to interact more on campus and through technology; (2) additional workshops to improve research and writing skills; (3) providing additional TA training; (4) encouraging greater participation in the MRC; (5) increasing professional development opportunities by advocating for greater student participation at conferences and attendance at professional speaker events; and (6) offering more financial scholarships to students for publishing and participating in conferences and workshops.