November 2023 Message from Dean Mayo
Dear members of The Graduate School (TGS) community,
As we enter this season of gratitude and giving thanks, I would like to express my admiration to you all for continuing to debate and discuss geo-political issues and societal concerns with civility and calm. This is a challenging time for many in our community and around the world, and I appreciate the grace and space you are granting one another as we work toward greater compassion and peace.
At TGS, our focus this time of the year is threefold: beginning to plan for the next academic cycle; evaluating and supporting the needs of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; and initiating preliminary planning for end-of-year events and activities.
When it comes to recruitment, we remain committed to supporting a diverse community of students and scholars and are proud of the vibrancy of ideas and exchanges that emerge as a result. Our Fall 2023 PhD cohort is comprised of 29% domestic underrepresented minority (URM) students and 42% international students. The number of first-generation PhD students also remains strong at 21%. We experienced similar diversity among this year’s master’s students with 25% URM students and 36% international scholars.
For 2024 our Office of Diversity and Inclusion is expanding its recruitment efforts beyond traditional conferences and layering in monthly virtual recruitment sessions. The team has identified 198 colleges and universities in rural areas where students cannot easily access in-person recruitment events as well as 21 institutions that predominantly serve Native American and Indigenous students. They are also refreshing and adding to their contact list of nearly 200 McNair Scholars Program directors and leaders throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
The goal is to increase the diversity of applicants and ensure underrepresented students have the opportunity to apply to graduate school at Northwestern. These new recruitment efforts will continue to be coupled with cornerstone programs, such as the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP), Introduction to Graduate Education at Northwestern (IGEN), and Navigating Northwestern. So many faculty, staff, and students in our community contribute to these recruitment efforts, and for this I am extremely grateful.
For current students and postdocs, we continue to pilot additional career and professional development opportunities that facilitate success at Northwestern and beyond. One example is a new Designing Your Life: PhD Edition course that will be offered in Winter Quarter. It is open to post-candidacy PhD students in all disciplines and teaches Design Thinking principles that apply to all areas of life. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) is also piloting a grant program to help support postdoc conference travel through a limited number of grants each quarter. Fall grant recipients will be notified in the coming days. Those interested in applying for the Winter Quarter may email the OPA for more information.
For our union-represented graduate students, the University and union bargaining committees have made significant progress over the past six months toward an initial collective bargaining agreement. The University is presently reviewing the union’s recent economic proposals and looks forward to an active dialogue over these topics as negotiations continue.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that our annual PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony will take place on Friday, June 7, 2024. This is always an exciting event as we celebrate our graduates and welcome them to the academy. Ceremony eligibility and other details may be found on our TGS website along with a link to the Graduation Weekend 2024 website for a full roster of events.
I am continually grateful to be a part of such a caring and compassionate educational community, and I wish you all the best during Thanksgiving weekend.
Kelly E. Mayo
Walter and Jennie Bayne Professor of Molecular Biosciences
Dean of The Graduate School and
Associate Provost for Graduate Education
Categories: From the Dean