Skip to main content

Winter 2021 Message from Interim Dean Mayo

As we begin the new year, the pandemic, myriad societal issues, and the transition to a new U.S. presidential administration remain top of mind, but I am optimistic that we will make great strides together in 2021.”

Kelly Mayo
Interim Dean of The Graduate School and Interim Associate Provost for Graduate Education

Dear Members of The Graduate School Community,
 
Welcome to the start of a new year and the Winter academic quarter. As we begin the new year, the pandemic, myriad societal issues, and the transition to a new U.S. presidential administration remain top of mind, but I am optimistic that we will make great strides together in 2021.
 
The Graduate School team and I are here to support you as we continue to embrace our substantially remote environment and plan for a transition toward normality. Additional support is available through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for graduate students and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty, staff, and postdoctoral trainees. In the meantime, below are a few updates and reminders that I would like to share as we begin the Winter Quarter:
 

125 Years of PhD Degrees

2021 marks the 125th anniversary of the awarding of the first PhD degree by Northwestern University in 1896. This year also marks 130 years since a modern structure for graduate education was formalized at Northwestern in 1891, and 110 years since The Graduate School was first created in 1911. In this report prepared for the Board of Trustees in 1927, the special committee of the Board of Graduate Studies wrote, “There is now a general understanding among universities that the real reputation of a university, in last analysis, is based on the standing of its Graduate School…In other words, no university is fulfilling its highest purpose which does not extend the boundaries of human knowledge.” Our graduate community was and remains an integral part of the world-class reputation of Northwestern University, and we will provide moments of recognition throughout the coming year to celebrate this important milestone. It also is interesting to note that many of the themes summarized in this report continue to resonate nearly 100 years later, such as an emphasis on diversity, career outcomes, peer comparisons, and rankings.
 

COVID-19 Testing and Reporting Compliance Concerns

As a reminder from this December 9 University message, most graduate students should plan to complete their initial COVID-19 testing this week. Students who plan to come to campus for in-person classes or other activities are required to have a negative COVID-19 test during the Wildcat Wellness period. Most graduate students will be tested weekly or every other week throughout the Winter Quarter depending on the amount of time you plan to spend on campus or interact with the campus community in person. Your testing frequency will be based on how you answered the Community Action Plans questionnaire in CAESAR. Postdoctoral trainees who plan to work regularly onsite have the option to sign up for the Recurring Surveillance Program, as outlined in this December 17University message to faculty and staff. Please email any questions about COVID-19 testing to nu-covid@northwestern.edu.
 
Graduate students and postdoctoral trainees should report any COVID-19 compliance concerns by emailing covid19compliance@northwestern.edu. In addition, a hotline is available for faculty, staff, postdoctoral trainees, and students to report concerns by calling 312.503.3437 (Chicago campus) or 847.467.8840 (Evanston campus).
 

2021 Dream Week and New Chief Diversity Officer

In January 2013, Northwestern designated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official University-recognized annual holiday for students, faculty, and staff. The University is proud to support a week of programming to inspire reflection on Dr. King’s life and legacy. The 2021 Dream Week is anchored by a keynote address delivered by abolitionist organizer and activist Mariame Kaba on Wednesday, January 13 at 4:00 PM CST. I hope you will mark your calendars for this important event.
 
In addition, The Graduate School is pleased to help welcome Robin Means Coleman, who will begin her role as Northwestern’s vice president and associate provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer on Monday, February 1. We look forward to partnering with Dr. Coleman and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion team to further advance The Graduate School’s diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives and priorities.
 

Casual Conversations with TGS Leadership

I would like to invite all TGS students and postdoctoral trainees to meet with members of our dean’s leadership team and me at our next Casual Conversations event on Wednesday, February 3 from 10:30 - 11:30 AM CST. This virtual drop-in event is an opportunity for you to ask questions, engage with TGS leaders, and share anything that is on your mind. These quarterly opportunities are in addition to regular meetings my team and I have with organization and coalition leaders, as well as individual graduate students and postdoctoral trainees, to address the needs of our TGS community. Please know we are listening to you to ensure we provide the best possible experience for our graduate students and postdoctoral trainees. I look forward to the opportunity to meet some of you during our next virtual engagement.
 
I wish you all a happy and healthy new year and a promising start to 2021. Please reach out to The Graduate School team or me at any time; my “virtual” door is always open.
 
Sincerely,
Kelly
 
Kelly E. Mayo
Walter and Jennie Bayne Professor of Molecular Biosciences
Interim Dean of The Graduate School and
Interim Associate Provost for Graduate Education
Northwestern University

Categories: From the Dean