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Getting to Know: Mark Sheridan

New Graduate School dean says Texas Tech on track to become next premiere research university.

Written by Zoe Bell

Mark Sheridan was appointed vice provost for graduate affairs and dean of the Graduate School in December, and began his new role in March.

Sheridan joined Texas Tech University from North Dakota State University (NDSU), where he was associate dean in the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Cellular and Molecular Biology Program. Sheridan previously served for four years as director of the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research and director of the Regulatory Biosciences Center at NDSU for 10 years.

He has served as a visiting professor at several universities around the world, including Brazil, China, Japan, Sweden and Taiwan. He also serves as editor and associate editor for four international journals. The Fullerton, California, native received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in zoology from Humboldt State University, and his doctorate in zoology from the University of California-Berkeley.

Why did you come to Texas Tech?

Texas Tech is one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Its research enterprise has really grown; it has nearly tripled in the last seven years. It has a lot of name recognition, so when I was considering applying for the position, I started looking more at the alumni base, and the economic impact that Texas Tech has on the local and regional economy. There’s just so many things that all come together to make Texas Tech really right for becoming the next premiere national research university.

What are your goals as dean of the Graduate School?

I have several goals. As we grow our research enterprise at Texas Tech, it’s important that we also increase the size, scope and quality of the graduate enterprise because we know that the research capability of the university is directly related to the graduate enterprise of the university. As we seek to become a premiere national research university, we have to grow the graduate enterprise. But we have to do it with purpose. Working with President Nellis, I’ve identified four pillars that I call growing with purpose.

  • The first is to establish a clear academic identity, one of excellence that we try to recruit and attract the top students in the country and throughout the world.
  • The second is professionalization. Increasingly, graduate students are going into disciplines outside of academia, so we have to make sure we have the professional skill set that they need to succeed once they get into their careers.
  • The third is to increase our global footprint. We need to exchange students as well as participate in foreign research collaborations, and globalization is a really critical component of that.
  • And the last pillar, is to increase participation and diversity of the graduate enterprise. My goals over the next several years are to grow our graduate enterprise, growing with purpose, that is to enhance our academic identity, to increase professionalization, to increase globalization, and increase inclusion and diversity.

What is the importance of having a post-graduate degree?

Graduate education is critical to providing the intellectual capital that is the driving force of innovation in a research university.

Secondly, graduate degree-holders are increasingly in demand in the U.S. workforce. Graduate education is a critical component of the U.S. workforce development strategy because of the skill sets they can bring to bear. And in order for America to continue to be competitive in a knowledge-based global economy, we must meet the challenges of a knowledge workforce including folks with masters and doctorate degrees.

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Graduate School
Graduate School

The Graduate School at Texas Tech University offers unlimited opportunity for advancement with more than 160 different master’s and doctoral degree programs complemented by interdisciplinary programs from 50 specialized centers and institutes.

More than 5,300 graduate and professional students are currently enrolled in the Graduate School.

From toxic waste research to archaeology, from land-use programs to nationally known laser fingerprint detection studies, the Graduate School offers unlimited opportunity for aspiring scholars.

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