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Spring 2020 Message from Dean Woodruff

I am tremendously proud of our graduate faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and staff for the energy and efforts that have been made to transition graduate teaching and learning to a remote environment and for the creative ways in which research and scholarship continue to flourish. Your dedication and flexibility under these difficult circumstances is commendable.”

Teresa K. Woodruff ’89 PhD
Dean, The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education

Dear Members of The Graduate School Community:
Welcome to the start of the Spring Quarter. I am tremendously proud of our graduate faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and staff for the energy and efforts that have been made to transition graduate teaching and learning to a remote environment and for the creative ways in which research and scholarship continue to flourish. Your dedication and flexibility under these difficult circumstances is commendable.
The Graduate School team and I have partnered with University leadership and our campus partners to address your questions and concerns related to learning, teaching, and research during the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to actively advocate for the needs of our graduate community and address emerging topics regarding grading, progress toward degree, financial considerations, and continuity in vital resources and services. FAQs are available for graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and for international students. You will find the most accurate and up-to-date information on the University’s COVID-19 website and in our TGS-Specific COVID-19 FAQs.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions you may have and suggestions for improvements of our FAQs and responses. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis. University administration, deans, associate deans, and the entire TGS staff are working to maximize your opportunity to make progress toward your academic goals. Our priority is to make the best decisions we can make on your behalf and to give you the most accurate and updated information we can provide. 

Spring Quarter Grading

As a reminder, grading for the Spring Quarter will be Pass/No Pass (P/NP) unless you request a letter grade. This is a decision made by our Provost in consultation with the deans and with input from graduate students. We know that circumstances differ for graduate students and there are reasons that a letter grade may be required. Your director of graduate studies or associate dean for graduate education in each academic school will be able to assist you in determining the type of grading that is appropriate for your academic pursuits.

Graduate Student Appreciation Week (GSAW)

In a typical academic year, this week is normally when Northwestern celebrates Graduate Student Appreciation Week (GSAW). However, in consultation with the Graduate Student Association (GSA) and the Chicago Graduate Student Association (CGSA), GSAW festivities will be postponed until we can all be together again in person.
I would still like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for each of you. Thank you for speaking up and expressing your needs during this time of uncertainty. Thank you for the care and concern you have expressed for one another. Thank you for collecting, making, and donating supplies for those in need. Thank you for learning how to teach and learn in a remote environment. Thank you for maintaining the academic integrity of this great institution. We will emerge from this time as a better and stronger institution and community. I look forward to celebrating GSAW and expressing my gratitude in person at a future time.

TGS Work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

Graduate student and postdoctoral trainee voices are the most important input to the work of TGS. We are planning a series of engagements to ensure we hear your input and provide evidence of change to our students when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion within our graduate community. I take the concerns and priorities seriously and look forward to working with each of you to create an environment of inclusive excellence.
Most recently, we have heard concerns regarding access to emergency funding for COVID-19-related reasons. Information regarding how to request emergency support or short term emergency loans as well as a link to NU-SHIP information may be found under “Financial Considerations” on our TGS-Specific COVID-19 FAQs webpage. These FAQs also contain information about Purple Pantry under “Graduate Student Life” for students who are experiencing food insecurity. In addition, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) continues to support graduate students and has posted updated information about mental health resources on the University's COVID-19 website.
I look forward to continuing to work with our graduate community to enable the best environment possible for our graduate students and postdoctoral trainees.

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Trainees with Children

I very much appreciate the concerns of keeping children occupied while attending to other responsibilities. I am a strong advocate of all families and will continue to advocate on behalf of our parents who are also students and postdoctoral trainees. At least 5% of our graduate student population have children at home, and The Graduate School is committed to supporting students with children through the challenges imposed by COVID-19. We are also encouraging advisers to provide the flexibility required to care for dependents at home. Please see our TGS Child and Family Resources webpage for information on support and services, including information on child and dependent care grants, as well as our TGS-Specific COVID-19 FAQs for information on degree progress and financial considerations.

Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Trainees Living Alone

I would like to acknowledge that there are many graduate students and postdoctoral trainees who are navigating this difficult time alone. In addition to your circle of family and friends, please reach out to your advisers and program colleagues for support. Many of our graduate programs are creating clever ways to stay engaged and other opportunities to connect, albeit virtually, across campus. The Northwestern community is here to lean on and support one another.

TGS Award Winners

Spring is also normally the time when the Graduate School hosts our annual Spring Recognition Reception. Even though the reception has been postponed, I would once again like to recognize and congratulate our recent award winners.
The Ver Steeg Awards recognize one outstanding graduate faculty member and one non-faculty staff member for excellence in encouraging the academic and professional development of graduate students:
  • Shirin Vossoughi, PhD, Assistant Professor, Learning Sciences
  • Bud Robinson, Graduate Program Assistant, Physics and Astronomy
The McBride Awards recognize one outstanding TGS student and one postdoctoral trainee who go above and beyond in the areas of diversity, service, and engagement:
  • Ivan Hernandez, PhD Candidate, Social Psychology
  • Anastasia Manesis, PhD, Postdoctoral Trainee, Chemistry
The Edward A. Bouchet Honor Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate:
  • Ariel Dotts, Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences
  • Maxwell Edmonds, Medical Scientist Training Program
  • Jabari Evans, Media, Technology, and Society
  • Nicolas Watkins, Chemistry
  • Antoineen White, Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Graduate Program
I also would like to congratulate the recent recipients of Ryan Graduate Fellowships. Ryan Fellows are graduate students dedicated to the exploration of fundamental nanoscale science geared toward practical applications that benefit society:
  • Youn Jue (Eunice) Bae, Chemistry
  • Alexandra Brumberg, Chemistry
  • Ho Fung (Edmund) Cheng, Chemistry
  • Sasha Ebrahimi, Chemical Engineering
  • Chamille Lescott, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Xiaotong Li, Chemistry
  • Kelly Parker, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Adam Silverman, Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Michael Strauss, Chemistry
  • Matthew Vasher, Biomedical Engineering
  • Matthew Coile, Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Christopher Hareland, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Adam Ladd, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Roxana Mitrut, Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Justin Qian, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Eric Riesel, Chemistry
  • Thomas Song, Materials Science and Engineering
  • Sanjana Subramaniam, Mechanical Engineering

These award and fellowship winners, along with all those who were nominated, represent a standard of excellence in our community when it comes to mentoring, diversity, service, and engagement. I look forward to when we can celebrate in person.

Finally, I know that there are challenges associated with pursuing an advanced degree or the additional training associated with a postdoctoral appointment. The COVID-19 pandemic and the radical changes that have been made to our lives is a further challenge. Thank you for your partnership as TGS and the University work in a collective way to stay connected and minimize the impact to you and your achievements. 
On behalf of the entire TGS faculty and staff, I wish you good health and well-being throughout the months ahead.
My best,

Teresa K. Woodruff ’89 PhD
Dean, The Graduate School and
Associate Provost for Graduate Education
Northwestern University
The Watkins Professor of 
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Feinberg School of Medicine

Categories: From the Dean