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Graduate School Dean Karen P. DePauw wins outstanding contributions award

February 4, 2016

The Conference of Southern Graduate Schools selected Virginia Tech Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw to receive its award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education in the Southern Region.

The organization will present the award to DePauw, Virginia Tech Graduate School dean since 2002, during the conference’s annual meeting, Feb. 18-21 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

DePauw has developed and implemented several unique programs at Virginia Tech that have drawn the interest of graduate school administrators across the state, country and globe.

She was the force behind turning the Donaldson Brown Hotel and Conference center into the award-winning Graduate Life Center, which she has called a space and a place in which to build graduate community. Still the only complex of its kind in the nation, the Graduate Life Center provides residential, academic, meeting and social space to graduate students and programs, and houses the Graduate School offices.

North Carolina State University Graduate School Dean Maureen Grasso, one of several administrators who nominated DePauw for the award, wrote “Her role to transform the ‘hotel’ at Virginia Tech into an incredible Graduate Life Center on her campus was a huge influence on me.”

Provost Thanassis Rikakis, in his nomination letter, praised DePauw’s signature initiative to push graduate academic education beyond its traditional disciplinary focus: Transformative Graduate Education. As a foundation for “an innovative graduate experience,” Transformative Graduate Education relies on knowledge, leadership, scholarly inquiry, and social responsibility its four cornerstones, he wrote.

More than 1,500 graduate students participate in Transformative Graduate Education classes and programs each year.

Nominators also noted DePauw’s work promoting interdisciplinary graduate education, her advocacy related to work-life balance for graduate students, and for initiatives such as the Global Perspectives Program and international graduate education. She is recognized as a leader in inclusive graduate education who has worked at Virginia Tech and with colleagues across the nation to emphasize the added value that diversity and inclusion bring to a community, as well the individual learning of the person within the community.

Nominators also said they viewed DePauw as a leader in using social media and blogs to communicate with a larger audience.

“Dean DePauw’s extensive contributions to graduate education, spanning state, regional, national, and international levels, cannot be overstated,” Rikakis wrote. 

Florida State University Graduate School Dean Nancy Marcus agreed, writing, “She continues to challenge members of the graduate education community to be innovative and enhance the experience of graduate students.”

DePauw 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.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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