CORVALLIS, Ore. – Jennifer Dennis, who came to Oregon State University last summer as associate dean of the OSU Graduate School, has been named vice provost and dean of the graduate school. Her appointment is effective Monday, April 25.
Before coming to OSU, she was on the Purdue University faculty for 11 years with a joint appointment in the departments of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and Agricultural Economics, with an emphasis in specialty crops and consumer behavior.
Dennis succeeds Brenda McComb, dean of the graduate school since 2011, who in January was named senior vice provost for Academic Affairs at OSU. “Dr. Dennis is an innovative leader, with a natural ability to build alliances and advance the goals of the Graduate School,” said McComb, who recruited Dennis to Oregon State. “She is exactly the correct person to lead our efforts to ensure that every graduate student has the opportunity to succeed.”
As vice provost and dean of the Oregon State Graduate School, Dennis will provide leadership for graduate education and serve as an advocate for graduate students. She was active at Purdue in mentoring graduate students, as well as post-doctoral researchers, junior faculty and students of color. She was an adviser to the Black Student Union and the Black Graduate Student Union at Purdue and is the adviser for the Black Graduate Student Association at Oregon State.
“In the few months she has been here, Dr. Dennis has shown a wonderful balance of leadership, advocacy and passion for graduate student education,” said Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president. “She brings a strong commitment to our institutional values of collaboration, shared governance, diversity and inclusivity.
“She will help Oregon State University continue to advance interdisciplinary graduate education and develop and foster our graduate student community.”
Dennis has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in horticulture from Michigan State University with a minor in marketing and consumer behavior.
Oregon State University has more than 4,500 graduate students, comprising nearly 15 percent of the overall student body. About 30 percent of the graduate students at OSU are international students. The university conferred nearly 1,100 graduate degrees and 82 graduate certificates at its 2015 commencement ceremony.
Graduate education and research are among the university’s foremost missions, Randhawa said. The university offers 77 majors at the master’s level, 57 majors at the doctoral level, 84 graduate minors, and 12 graduate certificates across its 11 colleges.
Randhawa said graduate students “are critical to the success of OSU’s research enterprise,” which last year brought in $308 million.