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Spring 2021 Message from Interim Dean Mayo

Dear Members of The Graduate School Community,
The start of the Spring Quarter is a time of renewal and the ushering in of brighter days. This year, it also contains the promise of transitioning to our “new normal.” With vaccine availability and eligibility increasing, the hope is to be able to once again gather in person as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
I would like to commend our graduate community for the utmost professionalism and commitment to safety you have shown and continue to demonstrate during the pandemic. The number of positive COVID-19 cases among our graduate students and postdoctoral trainees has been very low. It is clear that you have taken the policies that have been enacted seriously and remain responsible in your behavior. Thank you for your continued partnership in protecting the health and safety of our community and for looking out for your colleagues.
Reflection on the past year comes with the recognition of the collective trauma we have endured. This stems not only from the pandemic and what it has meant for us and our families, but also the broader trauma that has occurred due to acts of violence and aggression against those who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), including Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), as well as the LGBTQ+ community. Hate or violence is unacceptable. As a school, we pledge to continue working toward a more just and equitable vision of inclusive excellence.
It is important to continue to practice self-care as we mentally prepare for the still-uncertain path of the pandemic. Please reach out to The Graduate School team and me with any questions or concerns. Additional well-being support is available through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for graduate students and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty, staff, and postdoctoral trainees.
Below are some additional announcements and reminders as we begin the Spring Quarter:

Graduate Student Appreciation Week 2021

Today kicks off the official start to Graduate Student Appreciation Week (GSAW). This week (April 5-9) is full of events, programming, and activities to celebrate our graduate community. Please visit our TGS website or download this PDF for a comprehensive list of GSAW 2021 events and giveaways.

In the spirit of GSAW 2021, I would like to express my gratitude to all our graduate students. Your dedication this past year has been exemplary. My goal is to ensure Northwestern remains a top institution when it comes to the comprehensive and holistic support we provide to our students. Thank you for your contributions to our community; I hope you will be able to enjoy some of the festivities that have been planned for this week.

I also would like to thank the Graduate Student Association (GSA), the Chicago Graduate Student Association (CGSA), and members of The Graduate School staff for leading the planning efforts, along with the many campus partners who are providing a week of robust and engaging virtual programming.

Spring Recognition

Spring is normally the season in which we recognize members of our community through in-person ceremonies. Using a virtual format this year, I was pleased to recently acknowledge our newest Ryan Fellows, as well as announce this year’s Ver Steeg and McBride award winners. The Graduate School’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion recently announced the 2021 Northwestern University inductees for the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, and later this quarter, we will induct the newest Presidential Fellows. The Presidential Fellowship is the most prestigious fellowship awarded to graduate students by Northwestern University. As a reminder, most doctoral degree-seeking students have the opportunity to earn fellowships as a part of their overall funding package. You can learn about the many internal and external fellowship and grant opportunities on our TGS website.

Vaccination and Testing Reminders

As a reminder from the March 25 Student Vaccination Updates, graduate students who are currently teaching assistants or research assistants in Evanston or Chicago are now eligible to be vaccinated. If you have questions about eligibility, please visit the Cook County or City of Chicago websites. On Monday, April 12, the State of Illinois will extend eligibility to all individuals age 16 years and older. (It is currently estimated that the City of Chicago will follow suit on Saturday, May 1.) All faculty, staff, and postdoctoral trainees also are currently eligible, and the message outlines a number of ways to be vaccinated.
As mentioned in the University’s March 30 Welcome to Spring Quarter message, Northwestern is encouraging students, faculty, and staff to voluntarily disclose when they receive a vaccination to assist with planning purposes. All students—including those who have been vaccinated—are required to comply with COVID-19 testing expectationsthroughout the Spring Quarter. Testing requirements for graduate students vary based on program and the amount of time you spend interacting with the Northwestern community. Your individual testing frequency is based on how you answered the Community Interaction Plans questionnaire in CAESAR.
COVID-19 testing also is available for postdoctoral trainees on a walk-in basis. Postdoctoral trainees working on campus are encouraged to follow University guidelines on testing; please see the University's COVID-19 testing page for details.

PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony

The University is closely monitoring the latest developments to the current public health guidelines and the impact they may have on graduation ceremonies in June. There are active and ongoing discussions underway, and we expect to share more information shortly. We recognize this is an important moment for our PhD and MFA graduates, and we appreciate your inquiries. Please stay tuned for updates on this topic in the weeks ahead.
I wish you an exceptional start to the Spring Quarter and look forward to the opportunity to connect in person one day soon. I also 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 quarterly Casual Conversations with TGS Leadership event at 10:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, April 21. This virtual drop-in is an opportunity to ask questions, engage with TGS leaders, and share anything on your mind.
Until then, please reach out to The Graduate School team or me at any time; my “virtual” door is always open.
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