USC creates post-Ph.D. program

New Provost Elizabeth Garrett has introduced the Provost’s Postdoctoral Program in the Humanities, her first major step toward achieving her goals as provost of the university.

Garrett, who was appointed provost and senior vice president of academic affairs last week, has said one of her main initiatives is to strengthen the Ph.D. programs at USC.

“I talked about … creating some very top, excellent Ph.D. programs. We have even more that are really at the cusp of becoming the truly greatest Ph.D. school in the country,” Garrett said.

The new program is the first of its kind at USC, created to strengthen the participating students as well as the university in general, said Vice Provost for Graduate Programs Sarah Pratt.

The award will be offered to current Ph.D. holders who wish to further their studies in the area of humanities. The program will provide mentoring and train scholars to become teachers at academic institutions, and  participating scholars will be involved in full-time research and teach three courses to establish an independent portfolio.

“Scholars will have a few years to improve their dissertation to book manuscripts that will be more likely to be published after the program,” Pratt said. “In return, they’re helping to improve the humanities at our institution.”

USC will begin accepting applications for the program this year, with the goal of starting the postdoctoral initiative in August 2011.

Selection will be competitive, as the program will support up to 10 scholars who are chosen primarily on merit and their potential to contribute to further research of the humanities each year. Scholars selected each year will spend two years in an academic discipline in the humanities category, but may receive a job and leave after the first year.

The program will be fully funded by the provost’s office, and scholars will receive a salary of $50,000 per year, with an additional $6,000 for travel.

Pratt said she believes the program will be both an advantage for the university and the students involved, as the postdoctoral scholars will receive additional support in becoming a part of tenure-track faculty.

“This new program will not only improve USC’s contribution to the humanities as an institution, but it will also strengthen the qualities those with a Ph.D. need to receive a position as faculty in today’s society,” Pratt said. “It benefits both our scholars and us as a university.”

The scholars will receive the support of academics, organizations and programs dedicated to the humanities at USC. Signature USC programs will come together to support the program, including the Visions and Voices initiative, provost Ph.D. fellowships and research grants.

Scholars from universities worldwide will come together to work with USC’s faculty, graduates, undergraduates and fellow postdoctoral scholars, something Pratt said would benefit all parties involved.

“It will be interesting to see our improvement in the humanities with fresh ideas from the contributing scholars,” Pratt said. ”We hope the scholars’ time on campus will help them prepare for their future.”