Letter from Dean F. Jon Kull

Republished from the Graduate Student Forum

Dear Graduate Community,

Greetings from Hanover!

I have had a really fantastic year in my role as Dean of Graduate Studies. It has been extremely rewarding to be able to work with the Trustees, President Hanlon, Dean of the Faculty Mike Mastanduno, and the other senior leaders on a regular basis. As you no doubt have heard, one of President Hanlon’s aspirational goals is to set up a freestanding Graduate School. I feel that creating a Graduate School will be a clear signal that Dartmouth is committed not only to maintaining its excellence in undergraduate education, but also to supporting and expanding the research and scholarship of its graduate students and faculty. A Graduate School is a way to acknowledge the essential and distinctive role of graduate students within the broader Dartmouth community, and it will definitely strengthen Dartmouth’s national and international reputation.

I envision a Dartmouth Graduate School whose programs will not only train graduate students deeply in their chosen areas of research, but will also draw from Dartmouth’s strength in the liberal arts to offer a well-rounded graduate education, enabling our graduates to become leaders in their chosen fields. This will give a Dartmouth graduate education a distinctive advantage and help make all our graduate students compelling speakers, strong writers, and excellent mentors.

I am convinced that stronger graduate programs will lead to a stronger Dartmouth in every respect; for example, I want to expand the role of graduate students within the broader Dartmouth community, especially when it comes to working with undergraduates. They already work together in many research laboratories, as well as in science class laboratories where graduate students are teaching assistants. I am also working with the Dean of the College to get a number of trained graduate students to live in dormitories with undergraduates where they can act as older (and perhaps wiser) peer mentors, giving advice and support on the rigors of surviving and thriving in science classes.

It has also been a busy year in terms of new programs and initiatives. Some highlights are below:

  • In collaboration with the provost and the theater department, we launched a graduate course in communicating science modeled after similar offerings by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Mr. Alda recently came to Dartmouth to speak about the critical importance of scientists being able to effectively communicate with non-scientists, and we are hoping to establish a more formal relationship with his Center moving forward.
  • In collaboration with the provost, we created the McCulloch Graduate Fellows program in recognition of Norman E. McCulloch, Jr., ’50 and his many contributions to the Dickey Center for International Understanding and its Institute of Arctic Studies. The McCulloch fellowships are motivated by our NSF IGERT graduate program on polar environmental change, and they continue Dartmouth’s commitment to interdisciplinary graduate training to understand rapid environmental change and its effects on society.
  • This fall we formalized a way for our graduate students to get credit for the various professional development and leadership workshops they participate in while at Dartmouth. The idea is for our students to not only be trained deeply in their primary fields of study, but also taught skills that might be useful to them in their eventual jobs, whether in academia or elsewhere. Offering these workshop opportunities for credit to graduate students helps to provide them with education and training aside from and in addition to the excellent research skills they are already receiving in their core areas of study.

All of these initiatives and more are described in detail on the Graduate Forum. I highly recommend checking it out! I hope you will regularly visit the Graduate Forum in order to keep up on all of the news from Dartmouth Graduate Studies.

Finally, I want to say a heartfelt thanks to the graduate alumni who continue to support graduate student scholarship and research by donating to the Dartmouth Graduate Studies Alumni Fund. Each year contributions made by graduate alumni go to fund research grants for current students. This year a number of talented students received this award, enabling them to do all kinds of great work that you can read about on the Graduate Forum. Your continued support is greatly appreciated. Thank you! I am really excited to see what our students will achieve during the coming year.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and all the best for 2014!


F. Jon Kull
Dean of Graduate Studies at Dartmouth