Equitable, Inclusive, and Engaged Graduate Education — Beginning with Admissions

Friday April 2 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm CST — REGISTER FOR ZOOM LINK

Headshot of Todd Butler, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University
Todd Butler, Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University

Todd Butler, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University and former President of the Modern Language Association’s Association of Departments of English, will lead a workshop on equitable, inclusive practices in graduate education. Dean Butler will focus on changes in graduate admissions policies. His efforts at WSU were inspired, in part, by a conversation he had with a Native American graduate student who asked, “Do you know why I’m here?” and answered that he had applied to graduate school only after seeking the advice and permission of his elders. Butler and his colleagues decided that admissions should invite students to be more candid about their personal as well as professional goals for their graduate studies. As a result, some departments shifted from standardized test scores and conventional questions to open-ended narrative questions. When the new admissions practices attracted more diverse applicants, the faculty decided to use an NEH NextGen grant to respond to a wider range of student interests. In addition to their discipline-specific courses, graduate students now also have opportunities to learn how to build relationships, conduct public scholarship, and participate in “embedded” humanities.

Presentation and Workshop Overview: In the first hour of the workshop, Dean Butler will share successes, failures, challenges, and the ongoing design process for culturally responsive graduate studies. After a five-minute break, he will lead a hands on design session. Participants will explore ways we might adapt admissions approaches developed at WSU to the needs of students and departments at the University of Iowa. This event is based on a very popular workshop Dean Butler was especially invited to lead as part of a recent Modern Language Association symposium on graduate education.

This event is generously co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Humanities for the Public Good Initiative, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate College.

About Todd Butler, PhD:

An English professor and scholar of early modern literature, politics, and law, Dean Butler leads more than 700 faculty and staff across more than 30 departments and four campuses to deliver the core of Washington State’s research and teaching mission. He previously served as the College’s Associate Dean for Faculty, directing strategic hiring, faculty recruitment, tenure and promotion and professional development in disciplines ranging from fine arts to physics. He also served two terms as the chair of WSU’s Department of English and is the founding director of WSU’s Center for Arts and Humanities. He coordinated WSU’s Grand Challenge “Advancing Opportunity and Equity,” leading a faculty group that created a trans-disciplinary framework for investment and innovation in equity-oriented research. He is a passionate advocate for the value of integrative learning, the importance of publicly- engaged research, and the need for more expansive, equity-minded visions for the 21st-century land- grant university.

In his own scholarship Dean Butler works similarly widely across disciplines and historical periods. He is the author of two books, including Literature and Political Intellection in Early Stuart England (Cambridge 2019). He has published more than 20 essays on topics ranging from early modern witchcraft and print culture to the intersection between classical rhetoric and contemporary victim impact statements. His current research explores connections between early modern culture and contemporary U.S. Supreme Court decisions on issues such as spousal privilege, environmental degradation, and native sovereignty. He has served as president of the Modern Language Association’s Association of Departments of English and leveraged a National Endowment for the Humanities NextGen grant to create WSU’s Publicly Engaged Fellows program for doctoral students. With the support of the Spencer Foundation, he is currently developing a multi-state network of land-grant universities dedicated to improving connections between the humanities and Cooperative Extension programs.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu or (319) 335-4034.