September 22, 2017: Updates from Associate Dean Hoock

Dear Graduate Students,

My name is Holger Hoock, and I’m writing to introduce myself as the (relatively new) associate dean for graduate studies and research in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. I oversee the school’s graduate programs––from admissions to graduation, from diversity affairs to professional development––and help ensure that you receive state-of-the-art graduate education and training across the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. 

Since assuming this role in the summer, I’ve been meeting with the A&S GSO leadership and your departmental representatives to develop a fuller understanding of your concerns and needs and of the ways in which my team can best support you. From those conversations, a few topics have emerged as priorities, including:

  • promoting professional development and career diversity
  • improving communication with graduate students about resources and opportunities available in the school and university, and about issues that concern graduate students

Promoting Professional Development and Career Diversity

It is intrinsic to our mission that we prepare you for the diverse careers of tomorrow––in academia, government, non-profit, and industry/business. We want to foster a culture in which the value of diverse, excellent, high-impact careers—within and outside of the professoriate—is broadly embraced.

Competencies central to the success of PhD humanists, social scientists, and natural scientists who transition to careers beyond the academy closely map onto those most important in 21st-century academic careers: deep critical thinking; deployment of evidence and ability to deal with ambiguous information, cogent writing, compelling and accessible presentation of complex and nuanced problems and arguments, teamwork, intercultural cooperation, project management, quantitative and digital literacy, and intellectual confidence. 

As you pursue your professional aspirations across a wide range of possible academic and nonacademic careers, I want to partner with you and your faculty on strategies to:

  • define multiple possible definitions of career success across disciplines and domains;
  • map existing career development resources and best practices in departments, the Dietrich School, and the University of Pittsburgh;
  • integrate multiple career outcomes throughout graduate students’ experience, from recruitment, admission, and orientation to curricular and extra-curricular activities, and advising and mentoring;
  • develop smart interventions in curricula to allow for more versatile training in a manner integral to the intellectual rigor of programs and the deep and broad field preparation of doctoral study, yet without increasing course burden or lengthening TTD;
  • initiate partnerships across campus, and with nonacademic institutions beyond campus, to structure site visits, job shadowing, and possibly internships/externships, including in industry and commerce, policy-focused NGOs, cultural institutions, and community and municipal organizations;
  • establish an alumni mentoring program across employment sectors. 

Improving Communication

From talking with many of you over the past few months, I believe we can improve the ways in which we communicate with graduate students about the resources and opportunities available across the school and University about policies and programs as wellas  about issues that concern you in your various disciplines and departments.

In my monthly letters, I will be sharing information about key resources and activities. 


As we redesign the Office of Graduate Studies website, we’ll integrate a web portal to professional and career development resources. In the meantime, do click through to the recently added section on resources for your professional development.

Please also see the graduate resources website at


September 29, 12:00–1:00 p.m.: “Writing Effective Mellon & Other Fellowship Applications”

In early October, we’re hosting a pilot workshop on “Introduction to Professional Development” jointly with DPDC. Representatives from each of your PhD programs will be attending this interactive session with self-assessment exercises supporting for career exploration. We’ll report back on the event in due course.


Both the Peer Mentoring Program Guide and the revised Doctoral Dissertation Committee Policy were developed by the Dietrich School Graduate Council. This is the governance body composed of five students and six graduate faculty that advises me on graduate studies issues and reviews TA/TF training programs. This year, Graduate Council will also be working on professional development and career diversity.

Finally, in early October, I will be hosting the first in a series of Dean’s Hours—informal gatherings where you will have the opportunity to share input and suggestions to help shape the school’s responses to the evolving needs of our graduate student community. I welcome your thoughts about our priorities and any other topics of interest. We will be sending a separate invite for the first Dean’s Hour shortly, and I hope to see you there.

If, in the meantime, you wish to share any thoughts, concerns, or news, please e-mail me at

With best wishes for a productive term,

Holger Hoock
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research
J. Carroll Amundson Professor of British History
Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences