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Year-End Message to the Graduate Community

July 10, 2017

Dear Members of the Graduate School Community,

As I conclude my first year as dean of the Graduate School, I write to provide an update on the progress that we’ve made, and to thank the faculty, students and staff who have collaborated so effectively to achieve these important milestones.

In particular, I am most proud of the investments we’ve made, the partnerships we’ve forged and the decision-making processes we’ve strengthened, engaging the Graduate Student Council and the various graduate student affinity groups more effectively to strengthen graduate education at Brown. Accordingly, the following accomplishments of the past year come as no surprise—they are the results of meaningful dialogue and partnerships between the Graduate School, students, faculty, staff and partners.

2016-17 Graduate Community Year-in-Review
In 2016, we made a series of enhancements to graduate student community that reflect an ongoing commitment to academic excellence, community-building and financial support. While not a comprehensive recount of the year, this list highlights the Graduate School’s focus on meeting the evolving needs of graduate students, and addressing challenges that arise in graduate education at Brown.

  • Enhanced Outreach and Communication:

This past year, the Graduate School increased outreach and communication venues and vehicles for students, strengthening our capacity to hear and address interests, ideas and concerns. Launched in fall 2016, the Dean’s Mobile Office Hours allowed me to hold office hours in the Rockefeller Library’s Wernig Reading Room, at the School of Public Health, and the Graduate Center Bar. Additionally, other Graduate School deans participated in division-wide meetings and site visits to graduate programs, and held satellite office hours – dedicating time to meet and listen to students from each academic division (i.e.: Humanities, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences). These outreach efforts affirm that graduate education takes place across campus in curricular, co-curricular, training and social spaces, and not simply in Horace Mann. In the fall, the Graduate School also launched the Graduate School newsletter to profile student accomplishments and share information on resources and opportunities tailored to graduate student needs and interests.

  • Increased Financial Support:

In collaboration with the Provost's Office, we were able to increase financial support provided to humanities and social sciences doctoral students this past year. This expanded funding resulted in the alignment of financial support levels across all disciplines, reflecting Brown’s expanded commitment to support all doctoral students equally. Master’s student support this past year included increased tuition scholarship and stipend support, and support to attend professional meetings. These efforts complement ongoing student support provided via programs such as interdisciplinary opportunities, Global Mobility fellowships, parental relief and childcare subsidy, and health and dental insurance. Brown was the first among peer institutions to offer the latter to graduate students.

  • Improved Mentoring and Advising Practices:

Graduate student academic support remains a high priority, and this year the Graduate School launched the plan for Improved Mentoring and Advising Practices. The Doctoral Advising Task Force, which will oversee improvement in mentoring and advising practices, began its work this past spring semester.

  • Expanded Student Support:

Graduate students face sudden and unanticipated needs that create hardships not addressed by our standard menu of resources. Increased support this past year included expanded Graduate Student Emergency (No-loan) Funding to meet bereavement travel needs, and losses due to fire. Expanded non-academic support services also included creating the new, full-time position of Associated Dean for Student Support & Deputy Title IX Coordinator.

  • Established Graduate Student Space:

The Vincent J. Wernig Reading Room, opened in November 2016, was established in the Rockefeller Library by Brown trustee Joan Sorenson and family as Dedicated Graduate Student Study Space. Establishing this room represents the first of many steps in our effort to create greater space for graduate students on campus.

  • Enriched Student Life:

The Graduate School continues to work in support of the full life experiences of graduate students on campus in other ways. This year, we reallocated resources to support Graduate Fellows placement in co-curricular life spaces such as the Brown Center for Students of Color, and the Sarah Doyle, LGTBQ and ‘FLi’ centers as a means to build community and expand peer-to-peer support and we launched the Community Fellows program. These enhanced student-to-student mentoring and social experiences create a greater sense of belonging and shared space for graduate students in the campus community.

  • Affirmed our Diverse and Inclusive Community:

Another priority this past year, driven by the blueprint of our Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, has been to ensure we preserve and expand our diverse and inclusive community. Last year, with the support of the Office of the Provost, we expanded the Initiative to Maximize Student Development (IMSD) to include the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics. The Graduate School worked with departments on their diversity and inclusion plans, recruitment, and trainings, and established a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board. These efforts and improvements in admissions and recruitment practices this past year, including new Diversity Fellowships, resulted in a significant increase in applications from historically underrepresented students. As a result,  the Graduate School has this year admitted its most diverse cohort of Ph.D. students. We have also reaffirmed our commitment to support international students.

The progress highlighted above represents a cross-section of improvements made in the last year and signals our commitment to improve the graduate student experience at Brown. For a more extensive list, please visit the Student Communication link on the Graduate School website. We plan to continue this work in the coming year by developing new best-practices materials on advising, introducing a new Title IX online training course for graduate students, continuing to strengthen student financial support, and improving spaces dedicated to graduate student use.

Again, many thanks to the concerted effort of so many that have helped achieve these and other enhancements. My hope for the coming year is that we can continue to work together to strengthen academic excellence and promote a strong and engaged community.

Sincerely,

Andrew G. Campbell
Dean of the Graduate School