From Terry Magnuson, Vice Dean for Research:
After a productive and successful tenure as Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Graduate Education (OGE), Dr. Virginia Miller has elected to step down to devote her full effort to her research program in the Departments of Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology. Virginia was recruited to UNC in 2008 from Washington University in part to unify admissions and first year training of PhD students across 14 different PhD programs by directing the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). In the past 5 years more than 500 students have begun graduate training at UNC through the BBSP portal. Professors throughout the nation point their undergraduate students to the BBSP and the UNC OGE is widely viewed among top universities as a model of excellence in graduate training.
Through her direction of the OGE, Virginia demonstrated commitment to every student’s success, and she was a leader in making graduate training accessible to all qualified and passionate students whatever their background. Under Virginia’s leadership the OGE has been awarded more than 5.3 million dollars in grants from NIH, HHMI, the Burroughs Welcome Fund, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and other granting agencies for innovative graduate training proposals and outreach initiatives that prepare UNC PhD students for successful careers. Importantly, the OGE has developed nationally recognized diversity pipeline summer and post-baccalaureate research programs that feed into our graduate level IMSD (Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity) program. The OGE has forged strategic partnerships with many of the best local and regional minority serving institutions. Prior to 2008 the percentage of students from under represented groups (URM) in the biomedical PhD programs at UNC was ~ 6%. In the last 5 years the number of newly recruited URM students has increased to an average of over 17% per year.
Virginia’s vision for graduate education at UNC extended beyond just recruiting the best students. She helped nurture the fledgling TIBBS program into a nationally recognized professional development program and has positioned UNC as a model for the future of graduate education. The incredible success of the BBSP and the OGE have united bioscience programs across campus, bringing together students and faculty from the College, the School of Pharmacy, the Dental School, the School of Public Health and RTP. The entire UNC biomedical research community has benefitted from and is grateful for Virginia’s leadership, vision, and commitment to graduate training and education.
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to a reception celebrating the successes of the BBSP and OGE under Virginia’s leadership. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream will be served on the lawn of the MBRB on Friday July 12th from 12-1.