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Winter 2012 Message to the Northwestern Community

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

Warm greetings from The Graduate School! It has been wonderful to see many of you at events around the holidays, including the TGS Holiday Party, as well as at Christmas Eve with the Dean, an event offered to students by TGS and the International Office. I have also met many of you through Coffee Chats and Dinners with the Dean, and I look forward to meeting many more of you as the year goes on.

This winter brings some exciting events and initiatives to TGS, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you about just a few underway that have the goal of increasing both the recruitment pipeline and enrollment of underrepresented minority students. A core value of TGS is diversity of people, perspectives, and programs, and it is my priority to expand the pool of prospective and current students, ultimately cultivating a rich, varied, and complex learning and research environment. In partnership with three diversity working groups composed of students, faculty and TGS staff, we have embarked upon a series of activities and programs to extend the diversity of our community.

One component of recruiting underrepresented minority students is raising awareness about the opportunities and possibilities for them in graduate education, and giving undergraduate students a sense of what graduate life is like. This fall, I traveled with colleagues to spend two days with students, faculty, and administrative leaders at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, encouraging them to engage with us and explore partnership possibilities with Northwestern. This visit will become an annual fixture of my work in TGS to extend our special relationship with both these institutions. Next fall, we will add two DC area minority-serving institutions to this schedule of visits as well.

Here on our campus, we worked with faculty—specifically Directors of Graduate Study and Admission Officers of our doctoral programs—to provide them a sense of the common challenges and opportunities when recruiting underrepresented minority students (and particularly those who may come from atypical backgrounds for Northwestern) through Feinberg Associate Dean Rick McGee’s presentation, “Identifying and Developing Talents of Graduate Students from Atypical and Disadvantaged Backgrounds.” This engaging presentation was compulsory for Directors of Graduate Study and/or Admission Officers in each of our programs. A video of the presentation is available to any faculty who would like to view it—just let us know, and TGS will be happy to arrange for a screening with you.

This spring, we will host “Introduction to Graduate Education at Northwestern.” We have invited just over 20 faculty advisors from historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions (especially those in STEM and other more quantitative disciplines), and we have asked each of them to identify and bring one student interested in graduate education. During this two-day event, these prospective students and their advisors will participate in a number of engaging and informative events, including a tour of our campus and facilities (both in Evanston and Chicago), an opportunity to learn about the research of our faculty at NU, time to talk with current NU graduate students about their experiences here, and an opportunity to attend the spring meeting of our Directors of Graduate Study, where we will be able to make introductions between our faculty and our visiting faculty to expand our network and recruitment pipeline. Additionally, we are explicitly including discussion of diversity data and initiatives with each of our doctoral programs as part of the formal annual program review process. This will allow us to establish a baseline of program activity in underrepresented student retention and recruitment and to be proactive about what we can do to support our programs in their efforts to improve in these areas.

These initiatives are only a few examples of the great work we are currently doing. There are also important efforts with regard to diversity recruitment and retention that are underway in many of our doctoral programs already. I also look forward to sharing some of these with you in the coming months both in the context of this quarterly letter and elsewhere. If you have thoughts on other ways we might expand our recruitment pipeline, I’m always eager to hear ideas, so please do drop me a line.

On a final note—TGS recently surpassed 1,000 Facebook fans, and I hope that if you have not already, you will join us in our network online by “liking” us (at www.facebook.com/tgsnu). I personally check and post to the page, so if you have a question or comment, or would simply like to drop us a line, please do take advantage of our social networking presence and visit us online at our website as well.

I wish you all a happy New Year and a very productive and fulfilling winter quarter!

With Warmest Regards,

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

From the Dean