August 2021 Message from Dean Mayo
Dear Members of The Graduate School (TGS) Community,
I would like to welcome everyone as we approach the beginning of the 2021–22 academic year. The Graduate School is finalizing plans to support an on-campus experience this fall while closely monitoring public health guidelines. Today we are launching a virtual orientation for new TGS students, and we plan to host an in-person resource fair with our campus partners and graduate student organizations on Monday, September 13.
As we begin the new academic year, I am pivoting from quarterly to monthly messages to better inform you of our strategic priorities, resources, and initiatives. My intention is to address emerging topics more immediately and strengthen our communication. The Graduate School team and I are here to support your needs and enrich the graduate and postdoctoral experiences, and we welcome your input.
This month I would like to address our ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. This past year has been incredibly challenging for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees, even more so for those from marginalized communities. Longstanding issues of inequity and social injustice won’t simply vanish at the start of a new academic year. The Graduate School remains committed to fostering a welcoming environment and being an impetus for progress and change.
One of the ways we are doing this is by listening and learning. Over the past year, TGS Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion Damon Williams and I have met with graduate students, postdoctoral trainees, and various campus partners to hear their concerns and to discuss our priorities. Our TGS Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) has done tremendous work in introducing an array of new programming to engender a greater sense of belonging and community, as a result. Today I wish to share with you our 2020–21 Recent Progress and Planned Initiatives narrative, which outlines major themes we heard and what we are doing in response to address the DEI needs of our community. While much work remains, this narrative is meant to serve as a path forward together.
I also ask that you keep DEI top of mind when welcoming our newest TGS students this fall. Of our incoming PhD students alone, 35% are international, 51% identify as women, 29% are domestic underrepresented minorities (URM), 17% identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and 22% are first-generation college students. Our graduate population continues to progress toward the diverse and representative community of scholars to which we aspire. To assist in these efforts, TGS provided a 20% increase in application fee waivers to targeted underrepresented students this year. Overall, we continue to make an $8 million annual investment in diversity recruitment, retention, and student funding initiatives. We do not, and cannot, do this alone, and I want to recognize our many excellent partnerships across the University who support our DEI initiatives.
Our ODI team will be hosting a virtual interactive mentoring training experience for all new and current TGS students with Theater Delta on Wednesday, September 8. ODI also invites all new and continuing graduate students and postdoctoral trainees from underrepresented and marginalized populations to a fall welcome reception on Monday, September 13. We hope many of you are able to attend these events. I welcome all of you, new and returning members of our community, back to campus this fall.
Associate Dean Williams and I look forward to our continued partnership and dialogue with you regarding DEI-related concerns and priorities. Together with the University's broader community of support, we will work to ensure that our graduate students and postdoctoral trainees thrive during their time at Northwestern. Please know our doors are always open, so do not hesitate to reach out to TGS.
Kelly E. Mayo
Walter and Jennie Bayne Professor of Molecular Biosciences
Dean of The Graduate School and
Associate Provost for Graduate Education
Dean's Monthly Recognition
As we begin this new messaging format, I would like to recognize an individual or group each month who represents excellence in supporting the graduate and postdoctoral experience at Northwestern.
This month, I am pleased to recognize Bruce Lindvall, assistant dean for graduate studies in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. Bruce is a longtime champion of DEI and a member of our TGS Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council. He works closely with the National GEM Consortium, whose mission is to increase the participation of underrepresented groups at the master’s and doctoral levels in engineering and science. Of the 385 GEM Fellows selected nationally this year, 20 will enroll at Northwestern. Thanks to Bruce and his colleagues, McCormick achieved a new record in Fall 2020 with 104 underrepresented minority PhD students and is on target to surpass this total this fall. We are truly grateful to Bruce for his leadership in fostering and creating an inclusive academic environment at Northwestern.
Categories: From the Dean