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The interim dean who has led sweeping improvements in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Graduate School has been named its dean.

Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, a history professor at the University, began the interim role in August 2013. The dean is the principal academic and administrative officer of the Graduate School.

Her appointment as dean is pending approval by the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System.

“The advancements that have been made with Dr. Farmer-Kaiser’s guidance have been impressive. Through collaborative relationships, the implementation of best practices, and hard work, she has helped position the Graduate School to meet the University’s goal of increasing its enrollment,” said UL Lafayette Provost Dr. James Henderson. “Her involvement with graduate studies here at UL Lafayette has given her not only a thorough understanding of the importance of having a robust Graduate School but the ability to make substantive changes in almost every aspect of its day-to-day operation.”

Farmer-Kaiser began her UL Lafayette career as an assistant professor of history and member of the graduate faculty in 2000. She became graduate coordinator of its Department of History and Geography in 2004 and was elected to the Graduate Council in 2011 by graduate faculty. The following year, Council members elected her chairperson.

As interim dean, Farmer-Kaiser led the University Task Force on Graduate Education Governance and presented its preliminary and final reports to the graduate faculty and provost. The final report is a plan for future governance of graduate education at the University.

She also:
• increased and improved communication with graduate coordinators, department heads and deans:
• procured funds to pay for half of the health insurance premiums for international graduate students;
• steered the transition to an electronic submission and review process for graduate faculty applications;
• reconstituted the Graduate Dean’s Student Advisory Council; and
• implemented enhanced programming and new-student orientation for graduate students.

Projects that are underway in the Graduate School include the implementation of technology to improve graduate recruitment and admissions, and a new online applications and communications system.

In a letter applying for the dean’s position, Farmer-Kaiser stressed the need for collaborative efforts. “Graduate education is a collective enterprise,” she noted.

Farmer-Kaiser said there is a need to increase Graduate School enrollment without compromising the integrity of existing graduate programs, provide better support and mentoring for graduate students, expand research opportunities for graduate students and build more partnerships with industry.

“Expanding opportunities and improving mentorship for graduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups too has to be central to our goals as we move forward,” she said.

Farmer-Kaiser is the James D. Wilson/BORSF Memorial Professor in Southern Studies. She received the 2009 Dr. Ray Authement Teaching Award presented by the UL Lafayette Foundation.

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