Dean Robin Garrell to become President of CUNY’s Graduate Center

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Chemistry professor Robin Garrell, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate Division, to serve as new President of the CUNY Graduate Center. 

Garrell will be leaving UCLA as of July 31, 2020, to become president of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. She has served UCLA as vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate Division since July 2011. 

Garrell joined the department in 1991, where she is currently professor. She has held a joint appointment in Bioengineering since 2013. An award-winning teacher and scientist, and a recognized national leader in higher education, Garrell is known for initiatives that have advanced the mission of public universities, including increasing diversity, and supporting the success of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars throughout their degree programs and as they progress in their careers.

Garrell received her B.S. degree in Biochemistry with Honors and Distinction from Cornell University in 1978 and Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1984. Before joining the UCLA faculty, she was an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. 

From Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emily Carter’s March 30, 2020, e-mail announcement:

I am writing to share that Robin L. Garrell will be leaving UCLA as of July 31 to become president of the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. She has served UCLA as vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate Division since July 2011. During her tenure in these roles, Robin has worked tirelessly to support, champion, and elevate graduate education within UCLA and the University of California, and beyond.

As vice provost and dean, Robin has championed diversity and inclusive success in graduate education. During her tenure, applications to UCLA graduate and professional degree programs from students identifying as members of historically underrepresented groups increased by 23 percent. New enrollments among underrepresented groups increased by 40 percent and now comprise 21 percent of the entering class. This year, 26 percent of new UCLA graduate students are first in their families to attend graduate school. Robin also served as principal investigator on NSF Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate projects and grants from the Andrew G. Mellon Foundation to implement holistic graduate admissions practices. She advanced UCLA’s success with the UC–Historically Black Colleges and Universities initiative, expanded access to the Competitive Edge summer bridge program for incoming doctoral students, and established the UCLA chapter of the Edwin G. Bouchet graduate honor society.

Robin also significantly expanded professional and career development opportunities for graduate students and postdocs, launching the Grad Slam competition and founding the UCLA Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning, a hub of the national network that provides future faculty training in instructional technology and inclusive pedagogy.

During her tenure, Robin introduced many innovations to support students, staff, and faculty, including implementing systems for online admissions, recommendation letters, and thesis and dissertation filing, while transitioning most forms from paper to digital. Her team developed data dashboards that provide ready access to campus-wide data on graduate admissions, enrollment, student funding, time-to-degree, and degree outcomes. Robin also made strategic changes in how student support funds are allocated, revising the block grant allocations to increase equity, establishing matching fund mechanisms for training grants and graduate student extramural fellowships, and providing travel grants to every doctoral student. Through her regional and national leadership roles, Robin has positioned UCLA at the forefront of graduate education. She helped shape UC policies, chaired the AAAS Committee on Opportunities in Science and TOEFL Governing Board, and serves as an elected commissioner on the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

To ensure a smooth transition, I expect to announce a process for selecting an interim leader shortly. I will keep you informed as we initiate the search for Robin’s successor.

Chancellor Block and I are exceptionally grateful for Robin’s leadership as vice provost and dean and for the many transformative and impactful initiatives that she led during her time at UCLA. We wish her every success in her new leadership role at the CUNY Graduate Center.


Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,