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Fall 2012 Message to the Northwestern Community

Modified: May 21, 2014
Dear TGS Community,

As we embark upon another academic year here in The Graduate School, let me formally offer my sincerest welcome to all of the new and continuing graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, members of the graduate faculty, directors of graduate studies, and staff colleagues who coordinate graduate studies in our various doctoral and master's programs. As I do on a quarterly basis, it is my privilege to take a few moments to update you on the activities of my office, and, more broadly, initiatives currently underway in TGS.

Our strategic plan, “Diversify, Serve, and Engage: Northwestern University's Blueprint for Graduate Education 2012-2017,” will be launched in the coming weeks, and you will have an opportunity to learn even more about the focus of our work for the next five years. The three pillars of the plan—diversity, service, and engagement—will frame the work of TGS in the coming years, which includes the expansion of our diversity initiative and efforts to recruit an evermore inclusive population of students from different cultures and backgrounds, building on our professional development offerings to students and postdocs considering career opportunities both inside and outside the academy, and increasing our outreach both to our core university partners and constituencies and to our local communities in ways that make us better able to contribute to the education of the whole student (academically, professionally, and socially).

Last year, several faculty colleagues, current graduate students and I took a number of trips to Minority Servicing Institutions and recruitment fairs as a way to build relationships and expand the recruitment pipeline at Northwestern for students of color. Among my personal stops were Spelman College and Morehouse College, and our relationship with these institutions has already led to their increased participation in our Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP). This summer—through support from the Office of the Provost, AGEP (the National Science Foundation's Alliances for Graduate Education for the Professoriate), Baxter Healthcare Corporation, and Boeing Corporation—we were able to nearly double the size (from 23 to 40) of our SROP program from previous years, thus increasing the number of students who would be eligible for our first-of-its-kind Early Admission Program, which is now in its fifth year. This summer, one-fourth of our total participants in SROP (10 students) joined us from either Spelman or Morehouse. This fall we are pleased to welcome four new students from Spelman and Morehouse to TGS. We will continue our recruitment travel this year to build and enhance similarly productive institutional relationships, which I will report on in future communications. It is my hope that these efforts will build a more robust pipeline of diverse applicants to graduate studies at Northwestern.

Community engagement is another important component of our strategic plan, and we are keen to recognize those who help to build and strengthen our graduate community. As such, on November 8, 2012 I will be hosting the inaugural TGS Recognition Dinner, which will honor faculty, postdocs, students and staff who make positive contributions to graduate education at Northwestern, especially in areas that advance the strategic goals of TGS. Those faculty, administrators, students, and staff directly involved in the managing, coordinating, and shared governance of graduate programs will be receiving a save-the-date from us in the coming days about this new annual event.

Also because we think it's important to engage each new generation of faculty in the work and governance of the institution, I am beginning an initiative to engage junior faculty about the work of The Graduate School. Toward that end, I'll be inviting several new and recently hired assistant professor colleagues to join me at my home for dinner this quarter, to encourage them not only network with each other, but also to become more familiar with the role and work of TGS.

Last June, the Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring initiative launched training sessions for postdoctoral fellows and advanced graduate students who were about to mentor undergraduate researchers on summer projects. This is one of many ways that TGS sees its role within the broad community: just as we create forums for faculty to expand and enhance their mentoring skills, recognizing that new challenges constantly arise, we are also dedicated to the holistic training of young researchers who take up new kinds of responsibilities for the next generation. Announcements about upcoming mentoring workshops and panels will come out in due course, and in the meantime I welcome hearing from any of TGS's constituents about their experience and desire to develop in this area.

As a final note, if you do not already “like” us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/tgsnu), I ask that you do so. It's another way for me to keep in touch with the Northwestern graduate community and for you to communicate with us. Throughout the year, I personally often post photos from TGS events and short messages about our ongoing work for you to view.

As always, I welcome hearing your comments, concerns, and ideas. And I wish all of you a wonderful beginning to the new academic year!

With Warm Regards,

Dwight A. McBride
Dean of The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education

From the Dean