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Spring 2011 Message to the Northwestern Community

Modified: May 20, 2014
Dear TGS Community,

The latter half of the Spring quarter brings warmth, blooming flowers, and the celebrations of commencement to our campus. This is a time of completion and recognition of our many achievements, as well as a look forward to future successes. It is also the end of my first academic year as Dean of The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education. As I reflect on the events of the past months, I am thankful for the opportunities I have had this year to meet so many members of the TGS community. Through my Coffee Chats and Dinners with the Dean, as well as other meetings and social events on campus, students and postdocs have discussed with me where TGS has succeeded in meeting their needs, and what still needs work. I am reminded in each of my conversations how extraordinarily talented our community is, and how much passion underlies the work in which they are engaged.

In the spirit of recognizing milestones and achievements, let me take this opportunity to discuss the work of a few of these students who will participate in commencement exercises in June, and who, I feel, serve as examples of the different paths taken by members of our graduate student population: Meghan Roberts, Patrick Ryan, and Kortney Ziegler.

Meghan Roberts will receive her PhD in History. She is a notable Presidential Fellow, the most competitive and prestigious fellowship awarded by Northwestern. The group of Fellows meets quarterly and each Fellow presents their research to the Society of Fellows, a distinguished group of students and faculty across the University. Through the Fellowship, Meghan got the support she needed to finish her dissertation, and also honed her presentation skills. She also took advantage of other TGS resources, including the graduate research grant, and conference travel grants. I am excited to report that Meghan joins a long line of academic placements in our History program, and will be an assistant professor at Bowdoin College this fall.

Patrick Ryan, who will receive his PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering, has truly stood out as a student engaged in the community around him. He served as President of the Graduate Student Association during the 2009-10 school year, when the GSA petitioned for and saw the Graduate Student Commons became a reality. The GSA advising expectations document, also authored during his leadership, provided TGS and Directors of Graduate Study guidelines for improving advising relationships. In addition to his work with the GSA, he has also been an active member of the Graduate Leadership Council, through which he participated in New Student Orientation, encouraging graduate students to become involved in the Northwestern community. Patrick also delayed his departure from Northwestern to take advantage of the Management for Scientists and Engineers program, an exciting collaborative partnership between Kellogg and TGS.

Kortney Zeigler is the first of the inaugural cohort of the African American Studies PhD program, established in 2006, to receive his degree. This academic program was the seventh such degree program ever created, and I served as chair as the new curriculum was assembled. It is a testament to my colleagues that there is now a cohort of over 20 students. It will be my pleasure to confer the first degree of the program I started. Kortney is a remarkable and award-winning filmmaker and is invited as a guest lecturer and panelist at a number of universities and festivals.

These students have traveled different academic paths since their arrival at Northwestern, and have each taken advantage of TGS program offerings and services. They demonstrate the accomplishments made possible by engaging in their academic community. I look forward to hearing of their future successes.

I cannot stress enough the gratitude I have for all the ideas and input I have received from the TGS community since I took office in November, much of which will go to good use as we assemble the next iteration of our strategic plan this summer. To be sure, the 2011-12 academic year will bring changes: we will continue to improve upon our service to all of our constituents, build diversity in our student population, and create an even stronger sense of community in TGS.

Finally, I would like to invite you to the celebration of TGS’s Centennial: November 3 and 4, 2011. Our festivities will include panels by notable alumni, current students, and a reception. Please stay tuned and consult our (newly redesigned!) website in late summer for details.

With Warmest Regards,

Dwight A. McBride, PhD
Dean & Associate Provost

From the Dean