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Dean's Corner

Karen P. DePauw, Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education speaks on October 15, during a dinner at the Virginia Tech Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Serving Institutions Research Summit. Virginia Tech hosted the inaugural campus-wide 2017 two day Summit. The Office for Inclusion and Diversity, the Graduate School, and the Office of Research and Innovation hosted more than 200 faculty members and students to meet and network with Virginia Tech faculty, researchers, students, and administrators. Keynote speakers included Theresa Mayer, Vice-President for Research and Innovation, and Sylvester Johnson, Assistant Vice-Provost for the Humanities. The summit was an opportunity to advance shared goals for accelerating access and opportunities for historically underrepresented populations. 

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw
Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw

Karen P. DePauw serves as Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education and holds academic appointments as tenured Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Since her arrival at Virginia Tech, 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. She also has been recognized nationally as a leader in the innovative use of technology in graduate education.

As an academic administrator, she has been a strong advocate for diversity and equity in higher education and has spoken at national conferences on changing roles and responsibilities of faculty, preparing the future professoriate and change facing the 21st century University.  In 2016, the Council of Graduate Schools’ (CGS) Board of Directors honored Dr. DePauw with the first Debra W. Stewart Award for outstanding leadership in graduate education. The CGS Board created the award to recognize outstanding leadership in graduate education, and particularly those leadership qualities exemplified by Stewart, the Council’s fifth President. Dr. DePauw was chosen because of her strong reputation for ethics and integrity, her history of active participation in the graduate community, and her record of strategic vision and actions resulting in meaningful impacts.

In 2016, she also received the Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Education award in the Southern Region award from CSGS. In 2015 she received Virginia Tech’s Presidential Principles of Community Award in recognition of her international leadership in inclusive graduate education.

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), served as President of the Council of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) 2007-2008, served as Chair of the 2010 Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), and served as 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). She served as the Principal Investigator for a planning grant from NSF/AGEP to develop a model for the Virginia Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate.  She served as principal investigator when the Graduate School was selected as research partner in the CGS initiative, “Modeling Effective Research Ethics Education in Graduate International Collaborations” (2012-2014).  

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Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw at commencement

Dr. DePauw is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of adapted physical activity, disability sport and disability studies.  She has published extensively, presented keynote and scholar lectures (more than 150) around the world.  Her scholarship has focused on inclusion, equity issues, social construction of disability, and sociology of the body.  In recognition of her scholarly contributions, she was elected as a member of the American Academy for Kinesiology in 1997.  Throughout her academic career, she has served in leadership positions for national and international associations, received numerous honors and awards and has worked extensively with the United States Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the Olympic & Paralympic Congresses since 1984.
Dr. DePauw earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Whittier College, a master’s degree in Special Education from California State University, Long Beach, and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Texas Woman’s University.  In the 1970s, she taught with the Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County Schools and California State University – Los Angeles before moving to Washington State University, where she served for 22 years on the faculty and as an administrator.

You can reach Dean DePauw at

Dean DePauw's essay in the April 2017 Council of Graduate School's GradEdge newsletter: "From Teacher to Graduate Dean: An Unexpected Journey."

Dea DePauw smiling on a HokieBird plane headed to the National Capital Region