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Fall Quarter Letter to Faculty, Staff, and Postdocs from the Dean of The Graduate School

Modified: September 22, 2016

Dear Members of The Graduate Community at Northwestern University,

I’m pleased to be starting what will be my 7th year as Dean of The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education at Northwestern, and, following a year’s research sabbatical, I have had the opportunity to look back at TGS’s many accomplishments as advocates for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Northwestern. We continue to make strides toward our strategic priorities to diversify, serve, and engage our community. Among our achievements together to-date we can count the following:

  • The base stipend rate was raised last year, which was a great step forward for Northwestern, helping us to competitively recruit students and support them in their academic career.
  • We created the office of Academic Affairs in TGS, and refined our progress review process, allowing us to hold ongoing dialogues with the leadership of each of our programs, including our Master’s degree programs
  • We now have program statistics for our Master’s degree programs in addition to our PhD degree programs that are live on our website.
  • Our Excellence in Mentoring initiative has helped to make many of our faculty, postdocs, and graduate students stronger mentors.
  • We have established space on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses that are available to our students and community members for gatherings and programs.
  • We launched our new platform for graduate applications, TGS’s Admissions and Recruitment System (CollegeNET), which allows for the tracking of applicants through the admissions process, provides a greater degree of customization by program, and a more welcoming online experience for our prospective applicants.
  • We formed a task force on Graduate Students with Children, which provided administrators with feedback necessary to support this population in new ways, as you’ve read about in recent days.  

Our diversity work remains a cornerstone of our efforts at TGS. Since establishing the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and hiring Assistant Dean Nsombi B. Ricketts in 2014, TGS has had two unprecedented recruitment years. I hope you’ll take a moment to read our recently-published Diversity Report for 2016, if you have not already done so. We have made much progress in this area, and we are now turning our attention toward increasing our efforts in retaining students, ensuring that the community they join when they arrive on campus is one that is inclusive and supportive. Toward that end, we implemeted a buddy program this year, connecting senior underrepresented minority students with their new enrolling peers, giving new students access to expertise and an introduction to the social and academic networks of their buddies. If you are interested in learning more about out recruitment and retention work, or would like information on best practices, do not hesitate to reach out to Nsombi Ricketts.

This year, we are also increasing our efforts in the area of the professional development of our students. As you are aware, supporting our students to become the best thought leaders, managers, scholars, teachers, writers, and presenters will only help them to demonstrate their incredible versatility in various and competitive job markets.  We offer programs and services to enable students to become as well-rounded as possible during their time with us. It is our goal to continue to support the programs that are already strong, and create new programs to improve our offerings to students. Indeed, under the leadership of a soon to be named new TGS Director of Professional Development, we look forward to working ever more closely with our programs and students to customize our offerings in this critically important area. If you are not aware of the plethora of opportunities available, please take a look at our current programming and encourage students to take full advantage of what we offer, helping them to strengthen their post-degree career outcomes.

I look forward to what we will achieve together in the year to come. And I wish you all a very happy and productive fall quarter.


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

From the Dean