The majority of Lincoln University students are enrolled in its graduate programs. Thus, maintaining a healthy and engaged graduate culture is vital to the success of the school. For all the formal requirements that it entails, graduate education goes far beyond the curriculum – it fosters a specific culture of interaction and communication among students, among faculty, and across these two groups. Its primary feature is collegiality and support for innovative thinking and research. Graduate school culture implores faculty members to encourage students who exhibit creativity and ambition, and to assist them in setting up seminars and conferences where they can present their projects and broader intellectual agenda. The university encourages 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 advisory relationship between faculty and students. Graduate school is a time of active exploration and experimentation – not just didactic learning. Our faculty members provide guidance and advice to the students whose work they supervise; they also share their own research and academic and/or professional agendas. Graduate students’ innovative approaches and “fresh eyes” might – and often do – 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, and 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 inspire 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 with educational tools. Lincoln University’s Multidisciplinary Research Center (MRC) provides interested students with 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 maintain our commitment to scholarship and research, and to build a stronger community of student 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) conducting more 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 professional speaker events; and (6) offering more financial scholarships to students for publishing and participating in conferences and workshops.