On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, Dr. Janet Rutledge, Dean of the Graduate School at UMBC, addressed the participants of the Winter 2015 Dissertation House. Dr. Rutledge, a national leader in graduate education, discussed the “process” of obtaining the PhD. She stated that the papers that were being written in high school or during undergraduate studies were generally “discovery papers,” or introductions to research. Graduate students are expected to learn the process of doing research in the discipline: gather background information, find out what others have done, learn what has worked well in the past and what didn’t work, and make strides toward possible solutions.
Dean Rutledge also discussed the need to develop skills for becoming an independent scholar, and the need to engage in scholarly activities outside of the classroom and the laboratory. She acknowledged that it can be difficult to develop a sense of scholarly independence, and said, “No one will lower your grade if you don’t submit to a conference.” Following this statement, the dean encouraged the graduate students to participate in their professional societies and begin to develop expert knowledge by connecting with others in the field. She noted that these activities may not necessarily be driven by others, and that students need plans of action to be sure that they are actively engaged in external academic activities that will be of benefit to their knowledge base, scholarly network, and future careers.
Dr. Rutledge’s research covered a mathematical model for speech using low bit-rate coding. In addition to being Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School, she is on the faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.