Meet Dr. Susan Porter, the new president of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies for the 2017-2018 term. As the Dean and Vice-Provost of graduate and postdoctoral studies at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Porter’s major focuses have included promoting excellence in graduate supervision and graduate student development, and helping students prepare for their lives as scholars after graduation.

Her work over her 14-year career in graduate administration has helped direct recent attention towards the PhD degree, and the ways in which a breadth of career-relevant scholarship might be integrated in its core elements.

A molecular biologist by trade, Dr. Porter is also a clinical professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UBC.

President’s Message

As the new president of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies, I look forward to facilitating dialogue among Canada’s 58 graduate schools and stakeholders. Together we will share research, solutions and best practices for navigating the rapidly changing landscape of graduate education in the 21st century.

The growing conversation around broadening the conception of a PhD is one I’m really excited to be part of. It has been thrilling to engage in deep dialogue about the purposes and structures of PhD education in light of the sea changes that have occurred in society and in knowledge generation and mobilization over the last decades. The majority of our graduates are now entering careers outside the academy, and are contributing their critical thinking and creativity in innumerable ways to address society’s most challenging problems, to fuel innovation and economic competitiveness, and to make invaluable contributions to arts and culture.

In the years to come, I believe we will see deepening connections of universities with the public and private spheres, while different forms of learning, including experiential and hybrid learning, continue to expand. Given the diversity of masters and doctoral career paths, Canadian universities are also implementing a wide range of professional development initiatives, and more fundamentally, are revisiting the nature, content, and purpose of thesis research. Through CAGS, I am co-leading a national consultation on the future of the doctoral dissertation, with an aim to help us all work through the potential opportunities, barriers, and ways forward in reimagining doctoral research and its dissemination for this century.

In all my work with stakeholders toward common goals, I’ve witnessed first-hand the importance of doing solid groundwork, listening, and being creative in working through possible pathways. I’m very proud of the evolution of graduate studies thus far, and tremendously excited about the possibilities the future holds. I look forward to the year ahead as we build key relationships with one another for the benefit of communities and societies.