The Council of Graduate Schools’ Board of Directors honored Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw with the first Debra W. Stewart Award for outstanding leadership in graduate education.

DePauw received the award at a luncheon on Thursday during the Council’s 56th annual conference in Washington D.C.

In his nomination letter, Senior Vice President and Provost Thanassis Rikakis wrote, “Dean DePauw’s extensive contributions to graduate education, spanning state, regional, national, and international levels, cannot be overestimated. She works tirelessly and continuously to examine how graduate education should be changed and improved to prepare students to meet future challenges and exploit emerging opportunities.”

Alumni Distinguished Professor and associate dean of the Graduate School Rosemary Blieszner called DePauw “an extraordinary leader for innovative graduate education at Virginia Tech and around the globe.”

The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Board of Directors created the award to recognize outstanding leadership in graduate education, and particularly those leadership qualities exemplified by Stewart, the Council’s fifth President.

DePauw was chosen because of her strong reputation for ethics and integrity, her history of active participation in the graduate community, and her record of strategic vision and actions resulting in meaningful impacts. Additionally, she exemplified the selection committee’s desire to honor someone whose work included evidence-based innovation, program development, diversity and inclusion, student learning and career outcomes, personnel management, policy advocacy in support of graduate education and research, and fiscal responsibility.

“We applaud the Council of Graduate Schools’ recognition of Dr. DePauw’s many contributions to graduate education,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.  “Her work has significantly advanced the quality of our student’s experience, and her dedication to the wellbeing of our graduate community exemplifies the Virginia Tech spirit of service.”

The selection committee noted several key accomplishments: DePauw’s success in building a strong, diverse graduate community in multiple locations in Virginia; establishing the national award-winning Graduate Life Center; creating the innovative Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) initiative, supporting development of 14 unique interdisciplinary graduate education programs; and promoting work-life management programs to help students thrive, not merely strive, during their graduate education careers.

Rikakis and Blieszner said the TGE initiative and its programs have markedly changed graduate teaching at Virginia Tech.

“Through a series of graduate courses, workshops, seminars, and webinars initiated by Dean DePauw and the Graduate School staff, our graduate students have opportunities to learn about challenges they might face in their future careers, develop leadership skills, and explore a variety of pedagogies, research methodologies, and scholarly paradigms while completing their graduate degrees,” Rikakis wrote.

More than 1,500 graduate students participate in TGE courses, events and programs each year. Such initiatives include the Preparing the Future Professoriate certificate and courses, the Global Perspectives Program, exploring global higher education issues, and the university’s 14 Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Programs.

“Karen DePauw’s leadership has contributed greatly to the success of graduate students at her institution and to the enterprise of graduate education worldwide,” said M.J.T. Smith, dean of the Graduate School at Purdue University and chair of the Council’s Board of Directors.

The CGS award includes a $4,000 prize to support continuing innovations at the recipient’s institution. DePauw said the prize will be added to the Graduate School’s Dr. Karen P. DePauw Transformative Graduate Educational Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Tech Foundation.

DePauw has been Vice President and Dean of Graduate Education since 2002. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Whittier College, a master’s degree from California State University Long Beach, and a Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University.

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