Having trouble viewing this email? View as a webpage.

Graduate School E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

February 26, 2021

Dear Graduate School students,

The first six weeks in my new role as vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School have been busy and deeply gratifying. I am honored to serve the students and faculty in our collaborative community of world-class scholarship. A primary focus for me will be on the systems of support that will enable you to flourish.

I joined Vanderbilt’s Department of Sociology as a tenured associate professor in 2010 with a Ph.D. in sociology and social psychology, working on research topics around family, race, and mental health. Reflecting on my own time as a graduate student, I owe a large part of my success to the exceptional mentoring I received. My advisors provided not only careful and constant attention to the development of my research agenda, but ample support of my need to stay connected to my community and grow as an individual. In turn, I have made mentoring graduate students and investing in their mental health two of my top priorities.

As I continue the transition to leading the Graduate School, I am conducting a listening tour with important constituents and organizations, including key graduate student groups such as the Graduate School Council and the Organization of Black Graduate and Professional Students. By speaking with students and leaders across Vanderbilt’s schools and colleges, I hope to develop a deep sense of graduate students’ objectives and needs.

Beyond the unique challenges of this academic year, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in protecting our mental health. I urge all students to take advantage of the many resources available to you through the Graduate School and the university.

The role of the Graduate School’s Academic Life Coach (formerly referred to as Graduate Life Coach) is to assist in areas such as conflict management; mental, physical, and financial health; stress management; degree completion support; emotional intelligence; navigating advisor and department relationships; resilience; and managing work and life responsibilities. The life coach service is among the full list of mental health and wellness resources that can be found on the Graduate School website as well as FAQs.

Resources for your well-being can be accessed through the Office of Student Care Coordination, the Center for Student Wellbeing, Project SAFE, and the Student Health Center. Nevertheless, even with all these resources, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. The Academic Life Coach can help facilitate any of these connections to get you the care you need.

I am pleased to announce the hiring of an additional Academic Life Coach to augment this valuable student service. Having two coaches will provide greater support for graduate students. To book a coaching appointment, visit the Academic Life Coach webpage. You may also contact my office with questions about how to best navigate the university’s resources.

Finally, beginning Thursday, March 4, from 2 to 4 p.m., I will be holding open office hours for graduate students on a regular basis. Starting with monthly office hours, my plan is to assess how frequently students want to meet, and I will adjust accordingly (e.g., biweekly or weekly open office hours). I look forward to this opportunity for students to meet with me individually, which will broaden my awareness of areas of concern and growth opportunities across the entire student body. For now, all meetings will be held by Zoom. Depending on students’ specific needs, Associate Dean Bunmi Olatunji (academic affairs) and Assistant Dean Don Brunson (diversity initiatives) may also be available for appointments.

The Graduate School staff is here to help and a full list, including areas of expertise, can be found at this link.  Some of our most frequent inquiries can be answered by contacting the following:

  • La Tisha Moore, Executive Assistant to the Dean (scheduling appointments with me)
  • Gina Repas, Director of Graduate School Operations and COVID-19 testing program coordinator
  • Susan Hilderbrand, Program Coordinator for Academic Affairs (Graduate School deadlines and formatting theses/dissertations)

Of course, your adviser, director of graduate studies, and department chair can also serve as valuable sources of information. Please pay particular attention to any communications coming out of your individual departments and schools/colleges. These communications will provide specific information relevant to you and contact information needed to address questions or concerns.

Once again, thank you for welcoming me to the Graduate School and for your dedication to our community. It has been a pleasure to begin getting to know you, and I am eager to serve you and to advance our mission in the time ahead.


C. André Christie-Mizell
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate School
Director, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
Centennial Professor of Sociology

Need assistance?  Send us an email if you need support or would like guidance on identifying available university resources.

Visit the Graduate School website and follow us:


Stay informed:  visit the Return to Campus websiteFAQ page for graduate studentsResearch@Vanderbilt and the COVID-19 Dashboard for current updates on the Vanderbilt community. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19—learn more at Anchor Down, Step Up.

Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Vanderbilt®, Vanderbilt University®, V Oak Leaf Design®, Star V Design® and Anchor Down® are trademarks of The Vanderbilt University. ©2021 Vanderbilt University. All rights reserved.