Diversity in Graduate Education:
Looking at — and Beyond — Admissions

Recorded on November 8, 2018 - 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time


Programs seeking to improve student diversity are also seeking to understand how to recruit, evaluate, and support candidates from diverse social and educational backgrounds. Institutions take various approaches to this process. So, what are these approaches and what are the benefits and drawbacks associated with them? Is it possible to have a fair admissions process that is free from bias?

During this live discussion — moderated by Jamal Watson — Executive Editor at Diverse Issues In Higher Education — panelists will share their stories, experiences and expertise on this important topic.

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions, as well as glean new insights and ideas that may help inform practice and policy conversations on their own campuses.

Key Takeaways
  • Gain a greater awareness about the issues and challenges involved in increasing student diversity and inclusiveness in graduate programs.

  • Ponder some of the questions that are being discussed about bias in current admissions practices.

  • Hear specific examples of practices that can help nurture program diversity.


Jamal Eric Watson, Ph.D. , Executive Editor
Diverse: Issues In Higher Education

A native of Philadelphia, Watson earned his bachelor’s degree in English and Theology from Georgetown University, a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, a master’s degree in Education from the University of Delaware and a master’s and a Ph.D. in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His writings have appeared in numerous publications including The Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is the author of a forthcoming biography on the Reverend Al Sharpton.


Karen P. DePauw serves as Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education and holds academic appointments as tenured Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her major accomplishments include success in building a strong, diverse and inclusive graduate community; establishing the national award-winning innovative Graduate Life Center (GLC); and implementing the signature academic initiative known as Transformative Graduate Education (TGE), including the global perspectives and preparing the future professoriate programs.

Dr. DePauw has held several leadership roles in graduate education.  She was a founding member and Facilitator/Chair for the Virginia Council of Graduate School (VCGS), President of the Council of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) 2007-2008, Chair of the 2010 Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), and Chair of the GRE Board (2013-2014).   She has been a panelist, speaker and presenter at regional affiliates (CSGS, WAGS), national meetings and workshops (CGS, NSF IGERT, Advance/NSF), and international conferences (European University Association, Council of Doctoral Education).  In recognition of her leadership in graduate education, she was the recipient of the inaugural Debra W. Steward Award for Outstanding Leadership from the Council of Graduate Schools

Steve Matson has served as Dean of The Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2008. Prior appointments include chair of the Department of Biology and assistant dean for academic advising. As dean, Dr. Matson he has engaged the graduate community to envision, shape and support graduate education at UNC-CH and beyond by supporting the admission of a diverse, high quality graduate student body and supporting graduate students with academic and professional resources for degree completion and career success.

On the national level, Dr. Matson served on the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Board of Directors, the TOEFL Board and the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Board of Directors where he served as chair in 2016-17. Dr. Matson and his graduate dean colleagues across North Carolina implemented Graduate Education Day at the Capitol in 2011. He is the immediate past president of the North Carolina Council of Graduate Schools.

Dr. Matson earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Colgate University. His master’s and doctoral degrees are from the University of Rochester, both in biochemistry. His research focuses on DNA repair, conjugative DNA transfer and the enzymatic mechanisms and biological roles of DNA helicases.

Mark J. T. Smith received the B.S. degree from MIT and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology, all in electrical engineering. He joined the electrical and computer engineering (ECE) faculty at Georgia Tech in 1985, where he remained for the next 18 years. He spent several terms on the Institute’s European campus in Metz, France and served a four-year term as Executive Assistant to the President of Georgia Tech. In January, 2003, he joined the faculty at Purdue University as head of the ECE School and was actively engaged with the national ECE Department Heads Association, where he served as secretary/treasurer, vice president and president from 2005-2008.

In 2009, Smith was appointed Dean of the Purdue University Graduate School. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools and served as Chair in 2016. He is also a member of the GRE Board, a position he has held for the last three years, and will serve as chair of the Board in 2019. In August 2017, Smith joined the University of Texas at Austin as Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School.