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Barbour Appointed Dean of The Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education

Suzanne Barbour, a biochemist and national leader in graduate education, has been appointed dean of The Graduate School and vice provost for graduate education, Provost Sally Kornbluth announced Monday. Barbour will also hold a faculty appointment in the Duke University School of Medicine.

Barbour will be responsible for ensuring the excellence of Duke’s graduate programs, leading long-term strategic planning for graduate studies, and managing The Graduate School’s work that supports students and faculty throughout the university.

The Graduate School oversees Duke’s 55 Ph.D. programs, 29 of the university’s master’s programs, and a number of graduate certificates and dual and joint degrees. It collaborates with Duke’s other schools, academic departments, and various campus services to support about 3,500 graduate students in areas such as academics, admissions, financial aid, professional development, and wellbeing.

Barbour will join Duke Sept. 15, succeeding Paula D. McClain, who has served as dean and vice provost for graduate education since 2012.

“Suzanne has a tremendous record of advancing graduate education and graduate student success, and I am delighted to welcome her to Duke,” Kornbluth said.

Suzanne Barbour

Barbour has been at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 2019, serving as dean of The Graduate School and professor of biochemistry and biophysics. At UNC, she has led efforts to increase student access and inclusion, foster experiential professional development opportunities for students pursuing non-academic career paths and improve mentoring for graduate students. Under her leadership, The Graduate School has surpassed its goal of raising $10 million as part of the Campaign for Carolina.

“In addition to serving students, faculty and staff on campus, Duke’s Graduate School has made many important contributions that have impacted graduate education at the national level,” Barbour said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to join the talented, innovative and committed team that has made this possible, and I look forward to collaborating with Duke’s faculty, staff and students to further this important work.”

Prior to her appointment at UNC, Barbour served as dean of the University of Georgia Graduate School for four years, overseeing 250 graduate programs. She has also held appointments as a program director at the National Science Foundation and as a faculty member and graduate program director at Virginia Commonwealth University. Barbour’s research in the field of lipid biochemistry has focused on the role of iPLA2b and lipids generated downstream of the enzyme in cellular signaling, in mammalian cell models.

“Suzanne has distinguished herself through her leadership of the graduate schools at UNC and the University of Georgia, and through her sustained commitment to excellence in all aspects of graduate education, including a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the graduate student population,” Kornbluth noted. “I look forward to working with her to support graduate education and graduate students.”  

Barbour’s appointment follows a national search chaired by Craig Henriquez, professor of biomedical engineering, and conducted by a committee of Duke faculty and representatives of the Graduate School Board of Visitors and graduate student body. 

“I am grateful to the search committee for their work throughout this process, as well as to Craig Henriquez for his service as chair,” Kornbluth said.

Barbour is active nationally as a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools, the National Science Foundation’s Committee for Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering and its Directorate for Biological Sciences Advisory Committee, the governing council of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Graduate Education Advisory Council of the Educational Testing Service. 

In 2021, she was selected in the first class of fellows of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Barbour earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University.