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Spring 2012 Message to the Northwestern Community

Modified: May 21, 2014
Dear Members of the Northwestern Community,

Warm greetings to you this spring quarter! I want to update you on a number of exciting projects that have been taking shape throughout the course of this academic year: our efforts to increase diversity in our graduate population, our Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring (EDM) initiative, recent undertakings of our Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, and the launch of our strategic plan this June. While these initiatives are just a few of those underway at TGS, they showcase the efforts we are placing on many important aspects of the overall graduate and postdoctoral experience here at Northwestern, and I welcome your thoughts or feedback on any of the topics mentioned below, either via email or on our Facebook page.

This year, building relationships with undergraduate institutions has become a particular focus of many efforts at TGS. As I reported in my winter quarter letter, on April 26, faculty representatives from 15 minority-serving institutions will arrive on our campus with one student they have chosen to accompany them. They will spend both the 26th and 27th participating in a new program we’ve named "Introduction to Graduate Education at Northwestern" days. It is our hope that by touring graduate programs (mostly in the STEM fields), speaking to students and Directors of Graduate Study, our visiting undergraduate students will get a sense of what graduate education at Northwestern entails, and that they might be more willing to explore this possibility in the future. Their visiting faculty mentors will get an idea of the resources we offer here at Northwestern and will have an opportunity to become familiar with members of our faculty as well. Additionally, this week, a few colleagues and I will travel to Spelman College for their Research Day, where we will make presentations about graduate life and TGS resources and where members of the TGS faculty will serve as judges in their undergraduate student research competition. In addition, TGS Assistant Dean Penny Warren and McCormick Assistant Dean Bruce Lindvall (one of our major partners in our diversity initiative) discussed recruiting underrepresented minority students at the Best Practices Forum, which was recently featured in Northwestern’s NewsCenter.

Another area of focus this year, the Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring initiative, continues to pick up momentum under the direction of Tracy Davis, TGS Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. At the upcoming spring quarter Directors of Graduate Study meeting on April 26, Tracy has organized a panel of faculty from diverse disciplines: Dr. Indira Raman (NUIN), Dr. Susie Phillips (English) and Dr. Keith Murninghan (Kellogg Management and Organizations), who will discuss their experiences creating structured approaches faculty can use for guiding students through their doctoral studies. TGS has also partnered with Feinberg to adapt NSF curriculum for the training of faculty in all disciplines, emphasizing how to overcome communication barriers and utilizing tools that facilitate the expression of expectations. A workshop on this curriculum will be held on two consecutive half-days in September.

Under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Hobbs, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs has been diligently engaging postdocs, faculty, and administrators in an ongoing discussion regarding the overall experience of postdoctoral fellows at Northwestern. In February and March, the first ever comprehensive survey of the Northwestern postdoctoral population was administered. Designed to gather information on career goals, professional development, and the overall climate for fellows both on- and off-campus, the results of the survey will be used to design future programming and initiatives for postdocs at Northwestern. Also, this month, the first cohort of postdocs participated in the Kellogg School of Management’s Business for Scientists Executive Education program. Postdocs form various departments attended daily sessions on relevant topics, including accounting, leadership, negotiations, and intellectual property management. Finally, in an effort to fully incorporate postdocs in the TGS community, they have been invited to participate in TGS Days Out and Nights Out in winter and spring quarters. Postdocs can look forward to invitations to our future community-building events, as well.

On April 24th, President Schapiro and I will induct the 2012 Presidential Fellows, the most prestigious Fellowship given by the University, and an outstanding group of scholars. You can read more about current Fellows on our website.

As a final note, I am excited to announce that in early June, we will launch our TGS Strategic Plan, which will discuss our way forward as we diversify the graduate population and continue to improve service to and engagement with all of our constituents and our standing among our institutional peers. We are excited about this launch and look forward to the myriad ways in which it compliments the goals set forth in the University’s strategic plan "NorthWEestern Will."

I wish you a remarkable spring quarter. And, as always, I welcome your thoughts and your ideas.

With Warmest Regards,

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

From the Dean