August Updates from Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Holger Hoock

August 27, 2018

Dear Graduate Students,

Welcome to a new academic year! And to all newly arrived graduate students: welcome to the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

As Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, my role is to help ensure that the Dietrich School is an outstanding place for you to train, research, and prepare for your future careers. This year, we will be paying continued attention to priority areas such as professional development as well as launching new initiatives, including as part of the Year of PittGlobal.


The professional development and career preparation of all graduate students remains a top priority for me. Whether you aspire to careers in academia, government/public sector, industry, and/or the nonprofit world, we want to ensure that your graduate studies at Pitt equip you with deep disciplinary training, broad and versatile competencies, and the habits of mind that will help set you on a path toward future success and lives of impact.

As a starting point, I encourage each of you — ideally in collaboration with your advisor — to use an Individual Development Plan (IDP) to help you be intentional about setting academic and professional goals. An IDP can also support you in assessing individual skill sets relative to career goals and documenting progress in acquiring both depth of research and breadth of other skills sought by employers. Please check out this link for domain-appropriate IDPs.

The Humanities Division will be launching its NEH grant to rethink doctoral training across Humanities this year, with PhD students playing central roles alongside graduate faculty, alumni, and others. I am equally eager to work with our Social and Natural Sciences programs on next steps in professional development.

Please take advantage of the opportunities for career exploration, professional development, and leadership practice that your programs, the Dietrich School, and the wider university offer throughout the year.

Mental Health

As we focus on graduate training and enhance professional development, I also recognize that the graduate life experience is not solely academic and professional. And I know — and well remember from my own experiences — graduate school can be stressful. Recent studies have highlighted the mental health challenges of graduate students, as featured, e.g., in Science Magazine. The Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies has compiled information about physical and mental wellness programs available to Pitt’s graduate and professional students in a brochure and associated website. I encourage you to take a look. We’ll be following up with information about additional programs to support graduate student wellness in the fall.

Year of PittGlobal

The University of Pittsburgh has designated this academic year as the Year of PittGlobal to celebrate Pitt being at home in the world and to promote the University as a convening point for people and ideas from across the globe.

The Dietrich School is a cosmopolitan community of research and learning committed to an environment of inclusion that fosters global understanding and open exchange of intercultural thought. Almost 40 percent of all graduate students in the Dietrich School come from countries outside the United States.

Recently, I had the privilege and pleasure to help welcome more than 300 of the University’s 700 new international graduate and professional students to Pitt and Pittsburgh on a Gateway Clipper Cruise. As your graduate dean, and as a former international graduate student and now an international faculty member, I am committed to enhancing services for our international students, expanding international educational opportunities for all graduate students, and fostering spaces where graduate students from all backgrounds connect and enrich each other’s perspectives.

Communication, Resources

Over the summer, my office launched a new website with significantly enhanced content and improved navigability. Please check it out and send us your feedback to help us build out the site so that it best serves your needs.

In addition to working closely with graduate students in the school’s shared governance structures such as Graduate Council, I greatly value opportunities to hear directly from all of you about your experiences and to learn how we might further improve our support systems for graduate students.

This year, I’ll be hosting monthly Lunches with the Dean. Like last year’s Dean’s Hours, these will be informal occasions for us to chat about graduate studies issues that concern you, and for you to connect with fellow graduate students from across the Dietrich School.

The term’s first Lunch with the Dean will be on September 11, 12:00–1:00 p.m., in 5601 Sennott Square (corner of Forbes and S. Bouquet; Panera is on the ground floor). I’ll provide pizza and would ask that you RSVP to Gloria Mou so we know how much to order.

Finally, here’s a reminder of some key resources:

If you have any questions or wish to discuss issues related to graduate studies in the Dietrich School, please drop me a line at (Since some of you asked before: I do read each email and respond in person).

With best wishes for a productive and enjoyable fall term,

Holger Hoock
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences