Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw has said she firmly believes graduate students should be able to thrive, not just survive, during their education experience at Virginia Tech.

Since her arrival at Virginia Tech in 2002, she has developed programs and opportunities that have gained international recognition, as well as the award-winning Graduate Life Center, to support that goal.

On June 12-14, graduate education and graduate student services leaders from across the nation will convene at the Graduate Life Center for “Creating a Place and a Space for Graduate Education,” a conference focused on the places, spaces, services, and collaborations it takes to support the unique and wide-ranging needs of graduate students.

“We are delighted to welcome colleagues working within the graduate education community to Virginia Tech for the conference,” said DePauw. “I look forward to engaging with and learning from them so that we can create affirming and inclusive communities for graduate students.”

Assistant Dean and Director of Student Service Monika Gibson said the conference’s target audience includes graduate school administrators, student services and student affairs professionals who work with graduate students, and other interested members of the academy.

“Providing relevant services to our graduate students in the right places and at the right times takes creative thinking, commitment, and collaboration among many offices on a campus.” Gibson said. “We hope to bring together many providers who contribute or are in a coordinating role in a graduate school, so we can learn from one another and be inspired.”

The conference conversations draw on the university-wide Transformative Graduate Education initiative DePauw created as the foundation and frame for Virginia Tech’s widely recognized groundbreaking work. DePauw said the initiative, known as TGE, pushes beyond traditional single-discipline-focused academic education and aims to change how graduate students prepare for their lives and work after Virginia Tech. To that end, she has developed programs to train future professors, to support interdisciplinary education and research, to help students communicate with a range of audiences, and to provide professional development for those who will work outside the academy.

The conference will touch on many of these programs and also will explore such topics as services and programming, actual spaces and amenities graduate students require, accessibility, and inclusion and diversity.

The conference convenes on June 12 with a unique keynote experience: graduate students giving lightning round presentations about their experiences. June 13 offers a day of breakout sessions concentrating on specific topics, including such issues as building resiliency and effective communication skills, supporting a variety of career pathways with professional development programs, disrupting academic bullying, building community, and holistic admissions. The conference wraps up on June 14 with additional sessions and opportunities to network.

For more information about the conference, and to register, please visit the Conference webpage