Dean's Message

We are interdependent

interdependence goal leadership Funding Martin Luther King Jr.
By Elizabeth Wentz on January 27, 2021

"No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent." Martin Luther King, Jr.

One day, back in graduate school, my advisor asked me to come into her office and share some of my research with a visitor, who was a well-known scholar in my field. I was nervous, but I managed to give him a demo of my work. He asked me questions and we had a nice exchange. The only time I thought about it was when I saw him at professional conferences and I found it easier to exchange pleasantries with him.

It was only later, when I entered the job market for the first time, that I learned that he had nominated me for my first position at Arizona State University.  


An ASU colleague of mine talks about the importance of “loose ties” in your social network and how some of us, especially women, focus more on building strong ties and often miss the benefits of loose ties. Loose ties are those people you meet, the paths you cross and the connections you make, but don’t sustain. You never know which loose tie might lead to an opportunity.

As graduate students, you depend on faculty advisors, on one another and on staff to support you through your academic journey but faculty, staff and other students also depend on you.  

Our lives are a network of interdependencies—with our families, our friends, our communities, our teachers, our students—and recent social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic have only reinforced our sense of interdependence.  

It’s in this spirit of interdependence - that students depend on the Graduate College and we depend on you - that I want to share the leadership goals for the Graduate College with you. 

Graduate College leadership goals 

1. Build relationships to increase affinity with the Graduate College.

Building a relationship – or establishing affinity – with the Graduate College creates an opportunity to expand your network by bridging across disciplines and create diverse, interdisciplinary relationships that strengthen a student’s ability to succeed.

  • Started the Graduate Student Advisory Group
  • Held the first virtual Graduate Student Town Hall to be continued annually
  • Launched CIRCLES, a new peer-to-peer mentoring program
  • Launched GRad15, a new professional development webinar series 

2. Increase funding for the Graduate College to support students and programmatic efforts.

The most visited pages on our website all relate to funding opportunities for students because the need is ever-present. We are pleased to have provided three new funding opportunities this academic year and are looking for more in the future.

3.  Grow enrollment in campus immersion and online graduate programs.

We are committed to design and deploy new programs, and increase the number of postdoctoral scholars.

  • Supporting the Graduate Assistantships for Underrepresented students and the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
  • Working with academic units to simplify the admissions process
  • Creating a closer partnership with Admissions and EOSS

4. Enhance the operational efficiency in the Graduate College

Making your graduate school experience as smooth as possible is one of the most important things we can do. As a result, out team is always looking for ways to improve our operations. 

  • Streamlined the training process for RAs and TAs
  • Launched the ability to conduct defenses online in response to COVID-19 closures
  • Looking at what we can learn from COVID-19