Suzanne Barbour, a former graduate program director at Virginia Commonwealth University who is currently a National Science Foundation program director, has been named dean of the Graduate School at UGA.
Barbour is a professor in the VCU School of Medicine’s biochemistry and molecular biology department, where she directed the graduate program for a decade. She has served as a program director in the NSF’s Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences since 2013, and she currently is leading the division’s cluster focused on cellular dynamics and function. Her appointment at UGA is effective July 13.
“Dr. Barbour’s academic background makes her ideally suited for this critical position at the University of Georgia,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “She has a strong vision for enhancing graduate education that will further elevate UGA’s national and international reputation as a leading research university.”
Barbour has held a number of positions that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of her research and her interest in preparing students for a diverse array of post-graduate career options. She holds affiliate appointments in VCU’s departments of African-American studies, biology, and microbiology and immunology.
“Dr. Barbour possesses the experience and skill set to meet the University of Georgia’s ambitious agenda to elevate graduate education to new heights. Under her leadership, UGA will significantly enhance its graduate programs for the benefit of students and for the economic and scholarly competitiveness of our state and nation,” said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “She brings a commitment to attracting the most promising graduate students to UGA and to increasing the number of career paths that our graduate programs prepare them for.”
Barbour has served as the director of research training at the VCU Center on Health Disparities, on the coordinating committee for a graduate education initiative known as the NSF Research Traineeship Program and as a faculty coach for the NIH-funded Academy for Future Science Faculty. She has received a number of honors over the course of her career, including VCU’s Women in Science, Dentistry and Medicine Professional Achievement Award and its Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment. She received VCU’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005 and has received an Outstanding Teacher Award nearly every year since 1999.
Barbour said she looks forward to working with colleagues across campus to develop strategies to attract and retain the most talented and diverse graduate students to UGA; enable graduate students to select the career path(s) that best suit their interests, skill sets and values; ensure that graduate students have access to information and develop skill sets necessary to pursue those paths; offer graduate programs that are well-aligned with both research and scholarship strengths of the institution and needs of the workforce; assess and refine graduate programs to ensure they maintain quality and retain those alignments; and track outcomes to ensure that graduate programs lead to productive careers and job satisfaction.
“I share the university’s goal of tailoring its graduate programs to ‘meet increasingly complex societal needs with cutting-edge, interdisciplinary offerings, strong support systems, and new approaches to program delivery that extend beyond the boundaries of the Athens campus,’ ” Barbour said, quoting UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan. “The University of Georgia has a strong foundation to build on, and I’m looking forward to working with faculty, staff, students, alumni and administrators to enhance graduate education even further.”