• Twitter()
  • Facebook()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story
Text Size AAA

Fall 2011 Message to the Northwestern Community

Modified: May 21, 2014

Dear Members of the Northwestern Community,

Warm and hearty greetings from The Graduate School at the beginning of a new academic year! I hope you've all had a productive summer that also allowed for a measure of relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation. The beginning of each academic year is always a time of great possibility and promise—with new programs to launch, new initiatives to pursue, new conversations to have, and new collaborations to be furthered and forged.

I write to our graduate students, graduate faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff each quarter to share news about TGS events and initiatives. For those of you who may be new to our community, I invite you to explore our recently redesigned TGS website (launched spring 2011), where you can find out more about our mission, programming, and staff who work here on your behalf, as well as news concerning graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Northwestern.

At TGS, we believe in educating the whole person and in encouraging our students and postdocs to learn a good work-life balance that will serve them well beyond the completion of their studies and training at Northwestern. Toward that end, we've established a robust set of community engagement opportunities and will continue to expand our efforts in this area. TGS also supports and manages training grants that support the research mission of the university and provide training and financial assistance to a number of our graduate students and postdocs.

It is now my pleasure to take this opportunity to update you on a few of the major ongoing initiatives in TGS:

TGS Strategic Planning

The Graduate School, over the course of the last academic year and this summer, has been engaged in the process of developing a new strategic plan to frame our work for the next 3-5 years. We are developing a draft document that will be reviewed with the TGS Administrative Board and the TGS Leadership Team before being presented to the broader community. I have very high hopes for this next phase of TGS's evolution and to the great work ahead for all of us in insuring that future.

TGS Diversity Initiative

Diversity is also an essential ingredient to any environment that has as its goal the training of the next generation of the very best and brightest thought leaders. It is my fervent belief that there can be no truly excellent environment for the training of scholars and practitioners unless that environment is made up of diverse peoples, with diverse intellectual interests, and from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. In the last academic year, under my direction, TGS began thinking strategically about diversity. We started the TGS Diversity Working Group (which I chair) with a few key members and have made some impressive progress. We have begun putting together an initiative that will change the way TGS scouts, recruits and retains underrepresented students. After several meetings and a retreat, the Diversity Working Group has now formed three action committees in the areas of Pipeline (recruitment), Admissions/Review, and Retention. Each of these action committees (made up of faculty, graduate students, and staff) will be working on implementation plans and budgets for various action items that have been agreed upon by the Working Group and reporting their proposals back to me and the Working Group later this term. More detailed information about some additions to the TGS admissions process this academic year (as a part of our evolving diversity initiative) will follow to directors of graduate studies and admissions directors in each of our doctoral programs.

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs

TGS is serious about our mandate from central administration to provide professional development, career support, and attention to issues of climate for our postdoctoral community, which exceeds 900 colleagues between the Chicago and Evanston campuses. Toward that end, I am delighted to welcome Dr. Jennifer Hobbs to TGS as the new Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Jennifer is a TGS alumna—she has a PhD from the Integrated Graduate Program in Life Sciences (IGP). And she received her postdoctoral training at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital where she was funded by a fellowship from the American Cancer Society. At St. Jude, Jennifer established professional development programming for postdocs and represented the institution at the National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meetings. Jennifer will revitalize our Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and we are very excited to have her join us. You will be hearing from me and Jennifer soon with the first postdoctoral survey conducted at Northwestern. I hope that members of the postdoctoral community will respond to the call by letting us know your thoughts and concerns through the survey. This will help us immensely as we begin building programs around the needs of the postdoctoral community.

Information Technology

Michael Satut will officially join TGS as our new Director of Information Technology on September 26. Mike's role is critical to the success of TGS in providing services and processes in an ever more timely and efficient way to our core constituencies. Michael comes to TGS with ten years of IT experience at Northwestern University, where he has held several positions of progressive responsibility. He has a BS in Computer Science from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a Master's of Science in Communication from Northwestern.  

Academic Affairs

TGS provides excellent data and analysis on our doctoral programs and doctoral students. We are beginning to turn our attention to doing the same for our master's programs, certificate programs, and clusters. For example, this year we conducted our second survey of students admitted to our master's degree programs in TGS. We hope that this data will give us a stronger sense of the experiences of this important community at Northwestern as well so that we may better serve them in their academic and career pursuits. Another key component of TGS's academic charge from the university is to be a catalyst for interdisciplinary study—the pursuit of research and inquiry that may transcend traditional disciplinary or departmental boundaries. To this end, TGS will continue to support our successful interdisciplinary cluster initiative in the humanities, the non-quantitative social sciences, and in the sciences and engineering. We will continue our vigorous support of these and other novel interdisciplinary efforts and are considering some strategic staffing adjustments and augmentations in this area of academic affairs to allow us to carry out this important work.

Outreach & Engagement

Our outreach efforts continue apace this year as with the last. I will be hosting monthly Coffee Chats with the TGS Dean for graduate students (in Evanston and Chicago). If you'd like to come to one of these to say hello, meet some fellow students, and let me know what concerns or ideas are on your mind, please sign up when you receive the monthly online invitations (the first call for online registration will go out this week). I also host a monthly Dinner and Discourse with the TGS Dean at my home for about 10 graduate students or postdoctoral fellows. These are designed so that I can learn more about the research of individual students and fellows, and they can meet and get to know the work of colleagues in other disciplines in a relaxed social atmosphere. I also continue to post fairly regularly to our TGS Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TGSNU. Please go to our page and “Like” us so that you will see my more informal posts to our TGS Facebook community. This is also a good forum to let us know about things happening on in your graduate program or student group that might be of interest to others in the community.

I look forward to the conversations, the planning, and the accomplishing of our goals together that lie ahead this year. I am very thrilled to be doing this work in this wonderful place with such extraordinary students and colleagues. And, once again, my very best wishes for a terrific fall term!

With Warmest Regards,

Dwight A. McBride, PhD
Associate Provost & Dean of The Graduate School

From the Dean