Kitto Graduate Student Hub Grand Opening Celebration
Members of the WWU community gathered for the grand opening of the new Kitto Graduate Student Hub on Thursday, October 19, 2023. Supported by a generous foundational gift from Dean Emerita of the Graduate School Kathy Kitto and her husband Dennis Waller, the Kitto Graduate Student Hub is both a physical and virtual space that brings together programs and services designed specifically for graduate students.
Located in the Western Libraries on the second floor of Haggard, the new Grad Hub includes consultation rooms, flexible seating and study options, and technology to support both in-person and hybrid engagement. Workshops and events will offer professional development and community-building opportunities for graduate students, and the development of academic literacies toward holistic student success. Program partners include Western Libraries, the Graduate School, and other units from throughout the university.
“Our collaborative vision and goals and this exciting and welcoming new space allow us to bring together programming and resources that visibly and effectively provide support for graduate student recruitment, retention, degree attainment and success,” said Megan Spiegel, Acting Head of the Kitto Graduate Student Hub.
The Kitto Graduate Student Hub includes graduate TA’s, peer advisors, and permanent staff from both Western Libraries and from the Graduate School. During the Grad Hub’s service hours, graduate students will find at least one person from these groups on site and ready to answer questions or assist with navigating resources and using the space. There are also online options for students on Western’s other campuses or for those who cannot be in the Grad Hub’s physical space during open hours.
This special event marked the culmination of a project that began a number of years ago, originating from conversations with graduate students who have since completed their work at Western, but whose contributions to the creation of the Grad Hub will have long-standing impacts. Event attendees included students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters of graduate education who were excited to celebrate the completion of such a significant and important collaborative project.
During the grand opening celebration, Western’s President Sabah Randhawa spoke about the critical importance of graduate programs to Western, and noted how students can choose from over three dozen graduate and certificate programs in STEM, education, the arts and humanities, and social and health sciences. He pointed out the important role both place and space play for students who are choosing their educational institutions, noting that the Kitto Graduate Student Hub will help to address the unique needs of students who are working on advanced degrees while offering them a space that will enhance their student experience.
President Randhawa thanked Kathy and Dennis for their generosity and support in creating a resource that will improve the overall educational journey for a growing population of students. Provost Brad Johnson also spoke about Kathy’s dedication and commitment to Western and its students, touching on a variety of significant positive impacts she has made on the university over many years, while sharing stories that highlighted her considerable leadership and collaborative strengths.
Additional speakers included Dean of Western Libraries John Danneker, Dean of the Graduate School David Patrick, WWU’s Vice-President for Advancement Kim O’Neill, and Western Libraries Director of Teaching & Learning Shevell Thibou.
Western Libraries and the Graduate School extend our deepest appreciation to all of the partners and supporters who contributed to this project, and in particular would like to recognize some of the former graduate students who were part of the earliest conversations that led to the development of the Kitto Graduate Student Hub, including: Janine Blue, Ali Holmes, Patrick Kissinger, and Gerry Maxfield.