A GSBS Leadership Announcement: Farewell to Dr. Nicquet Blake
It is with a sincere appreciation and the best possible wishes that I announce that Dr. Nicquet Blake, Senior Associate Dean of Students Affairs and Admissions in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, will be leaving UT Health San Antonio in October after 14 years of transformational work. In addition to being a fierce and tireless advocate for our students, faculty, and staff, her list of accomplishments is long. Among her most notable contributions are in the recruiting and mentoring space where she conceived, created, and flourished a series of cutting-edge, funded training programs resourced by over $6M in grants from the NIH. These include:
- the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) grant, where Nicquet developed a series of interventions that increased the underrepresented (UR) population within the IBMS program from 12% to about 30% in just 4 short years and has maintained this level of access over the last decade. UR students comprised at least 30% of the domestic students for the incoming IBMS class in each of the last five years. The interventions deployed also eliminated first year attrition (down from 40%), improved the academic success of UR students, and improved graduation rates where IMSD students now graduate at about the same rate as their non-IMSD peers. 80% of the IMSD graduates applied for at least one fellowship (internal or external) with a 70% success rate and more than 85% identified a position prior to graduation.
- a PREP program which helps ready recent graduates for Graduate School. Currently in its second year, 100% of the PREP trainees are now in graduate programs including right here at UT Health San Antonio.
- a Bridges grant to transition MS students into PhD programs has placed students from the Biochemistry program at Texas State to graduate programs across the country including here at UT Health San Antonio, Duke, Yale, UNC and UT Southwestern and Baylor to name a few.
- More recently, Nicquet assumed co-PI on the national Understanding Interventions in the Biomedical Workforce program which is focused on developing scholarship related to interventions that broaden participation in STEM higher education and promoting diversity in the biomedical workforce.
These programs, in addition to increasing diversity in our graduate student population, developed strategies and initiatives that have enabled a remarkable student success for ALL students within the GSBS programs and in their career path beyond graduate school. For her outstanding work Nicquet has garnered recognition and leadership on the national stage at venues such as the AAMC/Great Group, SACNAS, and ABRCMS.
In all other areas within her portfolio that included recruitment and admissions to name just two, she was strategic and contemporary in her approach. Dr. Blake developed a series of processes and policies that optimized operations and ensured robust admission processes across the twenty graduate programs in the GSBS. She spent much of the recruitment season on the road, visiting institutions throughout the nation, forming pipelines that feed high caliber students into our GSBS programs. And in her unwavering support of students, she was available 24/7, providing sage guidance to students for their personal and professional journeys. As an example, during the initial COVID surges, it was not uncommon to find her on the weekends delivering essentials to students in need.
On a personal note, Dr. Blake was a confidante to me, and others in the institution, and I will greatly miss her advice, support, and frequent outbursts in song. She is well-rounded and firmly grounded with clear conviction in her views and demonstrable compassion for all.
Given her many great accomplishments and national notoriety, it comes as no surprise that she has accepted the wonderful opportunity to be the Dean of the Graduate Division (30 programs with >1000 students) and Vice Provost of Student Academic Affairs at the University of California, San Francisco. Overseeing some 120 employees, Dr. Blake serves as the chief academic, administrative, and research officer for their Graduate Division and will provide overall administrative supervision for postdoctoral scholar programs (≈1100 postdoc), all matters pertaining to graduate programs, admissions, and student support. As Vice Provost, Nicquet will provide leadership, direction, strategic planning, and management of key, campus-wide student academic affairs activities. This opportunity stands as testament to her great work here and in her leadership prowess.
Please join me in thanking Dr. Blake for all she has done on behalf of our students and institution and also join me in wishing her great success at UCSF where she will certainly continue to push the boundaries of graduate education.
David S. Weiss, Ph.D.
Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences