Dean Carlson Welcomes Incoming Class, Emphasizes Community

Author: Nora Kenney

New students pose on God Quad during Graduate Student OrientationNew students pose on God Quad during Graduate Student Orientation

With classes for the 2018-2019 academic year underway, Laura Carlson addressed this year’s incoming cohort of graduate students on August 13 as part of the two-day Graduate Orientation hosted by the Graduate School and the Division of Student Affairs. 


In her remarks, Carlson, who is dean of the Graduate School, associate provost, vice president, and professor of psychology, emphasized Notre Dame’s commitment to fostering an environment of well-being for graduate students. 


“One of the themes I really wanted to communicate to new students this year is that your research matters, and you matter,” Carlson said. “We are committed to helping students thrive—not just academically but holistically. I wanted to let students know of our commitment to their well-being from the first day of their graduate training.”


Carlson’s theme aligned with statistics about the incoming students, who overwhelmingly identified Notre Dame’s community as a factor that was either “very important” or “most important” to their decision to attend Notre Dame over other institutions. Other popular reasons for choosing Notre Dame included the school’s reputation and commitment to financial support.


During her address to the students, Carlson also shared other statistics about the incoming class: out of 5,261 applicants, only 1,015 were admitted, yielding a selectivity rate of 19%, which is on par with Notre Dame’s undergraduate admissions rate. Of the matriculants, 42% are women and 33% are international. Students come from 56 different countries and from 43 of the 50 states. And the incoming class represents one of the highest yields of underrepresented minorities, too.


Nyrée McDonald, Associate Dean of Graduate Enrollment Management, shared Carlson’s enthusiasm about the incoming class: “This year marked one of our largest applicant pools ever, and the quality of applications was consistently high. This is a talented group of incoming students and we’ve been looking forward to embracing them in the Notre Dame family.”

Incoming students participate in a campus scavenger huntIncoming students participate in a campus scavenger hunt


The Graduate School’s emphasis on building community perhaps accounts for its recent success conducting a large-scale federally-funded study. As part of the Council of Graduate School’s (CGS) PhD Career Pathways Project, the Graduate School is tasked with canvassing alumni to track the career paths of STEM and Humanities PhD alumni. Out of the 28 other institutions participating in the study, Notre Dame’s alumni yielded some of the highest survey response rates compared to the other institutions. 


“I was thrilled to attend the CGS conference this summer and discover that Notre Dame had one of the highest alumni response rates,” Carlson said.


“We’ve been putting forth so much effort to foster community, and these results suggest our alumni still feel connected to our community. I think that’s a testament to the positive and welcoming environment we’re creating here, where student research matters—both now, while students are on campus, and beyond, when they go into the world and mobilize their passions and expertise to be a force for good.”