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Leave of Absence for the 2015-16 Academic Year

Modified: May 19, 2015

Dear Members of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Community at Northwestern University,
It is with mixed emotions that I announce that during the 2015-16 academic year, I will be taking a leave of absence as Dean of The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education to be the sixteenth Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS). I will be working on completing a project that is very dear to me: “Poetics, Politics, and Phillis Wheatley.” My interest in Phillis Wheatley, the first African American to publish a book, dates back to my undergraduate days.  I also published a chapter on Wheatley in my first monograph, Impossible Witnesses: Truth, Abolitionism, and Slave Testimony (NYU Press, 2002). I am very grateful—after serving as a dean for the past eight years (the last five here at Northwestern and more than three as Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean at the University of Illinois at Chicago before this) doing work I’ve loved and remain proud of—to have this incredible opportunity, for a time, to return to another one of my great loves—my scholarship.
Though I will not be physically present for much of the next academic year, I will be here for New Student Orientation in September to welcome new students to campus and set the tone for the year. My leave will officially begin in October. In my absence, I am confident that TGS will continue to move forward, especially in our strategic areas of significance. Our work to diversify the graduate student community at Northwestern, the expansion of our professional development programming to support students pursuing careers in the academy and beyond, and our advocacy on behalf of the graduate and postdoctoral populations at Northwestern will continue in my absence.
I have occasionally found that when someone takes a leave of absence, there are questions as to what their plans are for the time following the leave. I want to be clear: it is my intention to return to Northwestern to resume my role at The Graduate School at the conclusion of my time as the Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the AAS.
More information about the appointment by the Provost of an Acting Dean for TGS will be forthcoming. And I will also have an update for you in the coming weeks on some internal staffing changes at TGS as well.  Meanwhile, please know that we have a very strong team of dedicated staff at TGS, and I know that, despite my absence, our work next year will continue to be in great hands.


Dwight A. McBride, PhD
Associate Provost & Dean of The Graduate School
Daniel Hale Williams Professor of African American Studies, English & Performance Studies

From the Dean