Review of School of Graduate Studies 

SGS goes under the microscope

By Barbara Black

Vice-President Graduate Studies and Research Louise Dandurand is opening up a campus-wide discussion about the role of the School of Graduate Studies.

As the academic profile of the university has grown, the need for a coherent strategy has become more urgent, Dandurand said.

“Graduate studies has grown spectacularly,” she told the Journal, “but this growth has not been accompanied by deep reflection on its place in the university. This is the next step.”

It’s time to complement the remarkable growth in graduate studies with an appropriate recruitment strategy, Dandurand said. The academic vice-president, who has been in her post for a year, wants the discussion to be as broad and imaginative as possible. “I have a vision, but I want to hear what the university itself has to offer. We should revisit how we develop and manage graduate studies. We are in a highly competitive environment, and we need to find the best ways to maximize our opportunities.

“How can we attract more students? How can we attract the best? And how can we bring their studies to completion in a timely fashion, with enriched learning and research experience?”

One way is to continue the renewal of faculty, expanding the span of research interests. Dandurand added that postdoctoral fellows are “absolutely crucial” in the drive towards maturity as a research institution.

Another challenge is to find more financial support for graduate students. Last year, another university promised $20,000 per graduate student in ads in the Montreal metro; Concordia can offer an average of only $5,000.

While individual researchers have racked up a good record of acquiring grants, there are opportunities to get more infrastructure support, particularly from the provincial government. This money generally goes to support graduate students working with the principal researcher.

“We already have unique opportunities for interdisciplinary training at the graduate level, notably the PhD in Humanities and SIP (special individualized program), and some programs are recognized leaders — aerospace, building engineering, psychology, mathematics, public policy, communications and journalism, administration, accountancy, studio arts and digital arts, to name a few.” To build on this success, Dandurand would like to see some imaginative program design.

Her optimism was reflected in the warm welcome President Claude Lajeunesse extended to several hundred graduate students at a daylong orientation session on Sept. 7.

“Our determination to become a leading Canadian university rests on our ability to transfer knowledge,” he told them. “We are here to serve you and make sure you succeed.”

The call for comments on the future of the School of Graduate Studies can be found at, on the left of the page, under Administration.


Concordia University