Virginia Tech Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw has announced plans to retire later this year.

As dean of Graduate Education and a tenured professor in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, DePauw said she plans to retire in mid-August after an 18-year career at Virginia Tech. University administrators have said Virginia Tech will launch a national search for a new dean and have no plans to appoint an interim.

“It has been my pleasure to serve as vice president and dean for graduate education and especially to work with faculty, staff, and graduate students to create an affirming inclusive graduate community,” said DePauw. “Together we have transformed the graduate education experience at Virginia Tech.”    

“Dean DePauw’s influence on graduate education has been transformative for Virginia Tech, and the global higher education community,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “Her exemplary focus on the success and well-being of our graduate students, faculty, staff, and the broader community has been inspiring to me, and all those fortunate enough to work with her. I am truly grateful for her spirit of service and dedication.”

During her tenure at Virginia Tech, DePauw established the nationally recognized and award-winning Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown, and has focused on building an inclusive and diverse graduate community across the university’s campuses and programs.

“Karen has distinguished herself as a dedicated advocate for Virginia Tech graduate students in Blacksburg, Roanoke and northern Virginia," said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke. "Her vision for developing cross-cutting academic programs like the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Programs (IGEPs) and the Transformative Graduate Education initiative as well as her impact on graduate student growth and success will be felt on our campus for years to come. I wish to thank Karen for her invaluable contributions to Virginia Tech and congratulate her on an outstanding career in higher education.”

Through DePauw’s efforts, the Graduate School has worked to increase the number of first-generation and under-represented minority graduate students and to provide support and services for them. A staunch advocate for students, she has promoted work-life management programs, including a focus on child care needs of students and the work-life grant that provides paid leave for graduate students who are new parents.

DePauw’s signature effort has been the Transformative Graduate Education initiative, known as TGE, which has markedly changed graduate education and teaching at the university and has been a model for other universities across the nation and the globe. Elements of the initiative include the development and support of 14 unique IGEPs, and the innovative Individualized Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program; the Preparing the Future Professoriate certificate and courses; an extensive transdisciplinary training program for graduate teaching assistants, including the Academy for GTA Excellence; and the Global Perspectives Program in which scholars explore global higher education issues.

The Graduate School’s Diversity Scholars program, which provides resources and mentoring for students who want to develop and implement projects focused on inclusion and diversity in their programs, departments, colleges, and across the university; the Citizen Scholar program, which recognizes students’ efforts to connect their work with their communities; and the communicating science courses aimed at helping students share their work more effectively with a wide range of audiences, also are part of the TGE initiative. More than 1,600 graduate students participate in TGE-associated programs each year.

Prior to joining Virginia Tech, DePauw served 22 years on the faculty at Washington State University and held several administrative positions, including dean of the graduate school. She was also a founding member for the Virginia Council of Graduate Schools and has served as a chair of the board for the national Council of Graduate Schools. Additionally, she has been an invited speaker, presenter, and panelist at regional, national, international conferences, seminars, and other events on graduate education.

She has received numerous awards over the years, including the Council of Graduate Schools’ Debra W. Stewart Award for outstanding leadership in graduate education and the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education in the Southern Region.

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.