September 2021 Message from Dean Mayo
Dear Members of The Graduate School (TGS) Community,
Welcome to the start of a new academic year. I hope you enjoy being on campus and in the classroom this fall, and I want to particularly welcome those of you who will be joining us as new graduate students this year.
I look forward to meeting many of our new TGS students at today’s resource fair, which will take place from 1:00–3:00 PM this afternoon on the second floor of Norris University Center. This will be followed by a welcome reception this evening hosted by our Office of Diversity and Inclusion for new and continuing graduate students and postdoctoral trainees from underrepresented and marginalized populations. We also look forward to celebrating our postdoctoral community during National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week (NPAW) starting on Monday, September 20.
As we recently announced, The Graduate School is pleased to welcome Miriam Petty as our new associate dean for academic programs. Miriam is an associate professor in the School of Communication and will oversee the academic aspects of all TGS programs. I hope you will join me in welcoming Miriam to The Graduate School.
The Graduate School believes teaching and instruction are an essential part of a doctoral student’s training. As you eventually complete your graduate training and move on to independent careers, some of you will remain in the academy, while many of you will pursue a variety of professions appropriate to your discipline. No matter where you go, or what you do, the time you spend teaching at Northwestern will help develop your critical thinking skills, communication abilities, and personal management attributes that will serve you well in the future. Your service as a teaching assistant (TA) is an obligation within your program and a requirement by TGS. But I hope you also realize it is an important responsibility and a tremendous opportunity. It is perhaps a cliché, but teaching others really is the very best way to learn.
It is important for graduate students to learn how to teach and use equitable and accessible modes of instruction. To assist in this endeavor, The Graduate School launched a working group this past year in partnership with the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. This group collected extensive data to understand how students teach, the scope of their responsibilities, and how they are trained for these duties. This group also conducted focus groups with directors of graduate studies, associated faculty, and graduate student leaders to better understand current training and resource needs and identify how TGS and Searle can best partner to provide support.
As a result, TGS has compiled a set of teaching resources and best practices for doctoral and MFA students through a new perennial Canvas site called Information for TAs and Graduate Student Instructors. This website was created to prepare students with basic information needed to teach including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title IX, unconscious bias and harassment training, and links to safe campus and mental health resources and other services and resources of interest. The goal is to collate and create materials and trainings that further enhance a student’s TA experience and overall professional development. This will be paired with Searle’s pedagogical focus on preparing students to be TAs and instructors, including their Graduate Student Teaching Conference, which will take place this Thursday and Friday, September 16-17.
Thoughtful teaching and mentoring leads to meaningful and impactful experiences, in classrooms, studios, field studies, laboratories, and daily life. I look forward to our continued efforts and dialogue to ensure our graduate TAs and instructors have the resources needed to succeed and promote a spirit of academic excellence. As always, we value your input, so please reach out with comments, questions, or concerns. I wish you all a healthy and productive fall quarter.
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
I would like to continue 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 Nancy Ruggeri, director of graduate and postdoctoral programs for the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. Nancy has been a key partner to TGS in our mentored teaching working group. She and her team are dedicated to graduate student and postdoctoral scholar development. They offer assistance in preparing for teaching responsibilities and course development, creating engaging learning environments for students in the classroom, and developing materials and preparing for the job market. Nancy provides key consultations on graduate pedagogy training. She worked with Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in 2019–20 and with McCormick School of Engineering in 2020–21 to analyze data and provide recommendations for advancing teaching training for doctoral students in our partner schools. We are grateful to Nancy for her leadership in enhancing learning and teaching at Northwestern.
Categories: From the Dean