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Fall Quarter Letter to Students from the Dean of The Graduate School

September 22, 2016

Dear TGS Students,

I’m pleased to be starting what will be my 7th year as Dean of The Graduate School and Associate Provost for Graduate Education at Northwestern, and, following a year’s research sabbatical to finish my next book, I have had the opportunity to look back at TGS’s many accomplishments in our role as advocate for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Northwestern.

Some of the things I am proudest of include: raising the base stipend rate for graduate students in fall 2015, matriculating over the last two years two of the most racially diverse entering PhD cohorts in Northwestern’s history, improving common areas for student gatherings and group meetings on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses, and establishing a task force on graduate students with children, the findings of which you’ve heard about in recent days. These are but a small sampling of the great things we’ve accomplished for graduate students, and I’m excited about our plans for the year ahead.

Here at TGS, we like to say that community does not happen by accident. The Graduate School works to provide opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to meet one another outside of their program or lab and get to know new members of their community. I encourage you to become involved with your student community in a new way this year, because our offerings are extensive, and they are designed to benefit your overall experience at Northwestern.

This year, we are turning our attention to professional development programming. We have a number of programs already available for students, designed to help you to become a better teacher, mentor/mentee, leader, writer, and presenter. We will be improving upon existing programming and expanding it in strategic areas, providing you with the resources you need to be successful on the job market in whatever career path you pursue once you complete your degree.

In addition to our professional development activities, we support community building grantsgraduate student associations, and TGS’s signature events, including Drinks with the Dean, Awards and Recognition, Diversity Celebrations, Holiday Parties, and TGS Days and Nights Out. I hope that you will keep an eye out for invitations to these events and more, which appear in TGS’s Wire, our weekly newsletter to students, or on our social networking pages.

There are forums for formal and informal interaction with students: TGS believes strongly in shared governance, and our Student Affairs council and Funding council, both recently formed advisory bodies, have student representation. The Graduate Leadership and Advocacy Council is another way students may interact with TGS, as this body provides critical recommendations and feedback to TGS about our programs and services offered to graduate students.

I would like to remind you that we offer a number of fellowships and grants that you may take advantage of as they are relevant to your needs and area of study. You may find the list of fellowships and grants we administer here along with a variety ofinternal grants and fellowships designed to meet a variety of student needs. And be sure to check TGS’s Wire for emerging opportunities.

Finally, it is no secret that the National Labor Relations Board released a ruling in late August that “student assistants working at private colleges and universities are statutory employees covered by the National Labor Relations Act” and may, therefore petition to unionize. It is our intention to hold dialogues with our students, answering questions they may have on what this means for them at Northwestern. I will hold town hall meetings for graduate students on September 27 in Evanston from 3-5 PM at 2122 Sheridan Road, Room 140 and September 28 in Chicago from 6-8 PM in the Daniel Hale Williams Auditorium in McGaw Pavilion at 240 E. Huron St. Meanwhile, I urge you to educate yourselves thoughtfully about the NLRB ruling, how the NLRB decision is different in important ways from state laws that govern unions at public universities, and about the workings and institutional records of specific unions from whom you may be hearing.

I very much look forward to what we will continue to achieve together in the year to come. And I wish you all a very productive and happy fall quarter.


Dwight A. McBride, PhD
Associate Provost & Dean of The Graduate School