Interim Dean of the Graduate School, Vice-Rector Graduate Studies appointed

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa .– Kathryn Drager, associate dean for research and higher education at the Penn State College of Health and Human Development, has been appointed interim dean of the Graduate School and vice-president for higher education, effective January 1, 2022.

Drager succeeds Regina Vasilatos-Younken, who will retire from Penn State on December 31 after more than 45 years at university. A nationwide search is underway to identify Vasilatos-Younken’s permanent successor.

“Kathy brings a wealth of knowledge in graduate program success through her work at our College of Health and Human Development as Associate Dean for Research and Higher Education,” said Penn State Executive Vice President and Rector Nick Jones. “Her years of leadership experience and a history of working directly with graduate students are invaluable to the role during this time of transition. “

The Penn State Graduate School is one of the largest in the country with more than 13,500 graduate students and more than 3,100 graduate faculty members in 197 graduate fields.

The person occupying this position heads one of the most advanced units within a highly interdisciplinary research university. The range of graduate programs includes 93 research doctorates, seven professional doctorates, 107 research masters and a growing portfolio of online professional masters delivered through the World Campus. To date, the Graduate School has awarded more than 120,000 graduate degrees.

As Acting Dean and Vice-Provost, Drager will support graduate teaching and learning at Penn State through a variety of initiatives, including the recruitment of graduate students and senior faculty; promote diversity, equity and inclusion programs; advancing financial support for graduate students; open up opportunities for career development and employment; and connect with graduate school alumni around the world. The dean and vice-provost also oversees a budget of approximately $ 21 million in general funds, an operating budget of $ 5 million and $ 15 million in student financial assistance, as well as a staff of approximately 50 full time equivalents.

“I look forward to working with the incredible team at The Graduate School and continuing in the tradition of supporting the highest quality higher education from our next interdisciplinary leaders,” said Drager. “The Graduate School provides key leadership to our graduate students and faculty in advancing their graduate degrees. We conduct incredible research on our campuses that enables both our faculty and graduate students to advance knowledge in their fields. I look forward to working with the students, faculty, staff and management of the University.

The Graduate School also oversees the Office of Graduate Education Equity Programs, the Summer Research Opportunities Program for Undergraduates, and the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Success Program, and collaborates with all colleges on various research-oriented programs and efforts and studies beyond the bachelor’s degree. .

Drager’s efforts at the College of Health and Human Development include facilitating higher education in the College’s eight units; collaborate with faculty unit heads and the Graduate Student Council; administer graduate funding programs and endowment funds; serve as a liaison between the Graduate School and the College; facilitate training grants and twinning; and assist in the development of new graduate programs.

Drager, who also holds the rank of Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, joined Penn State Faculty in 1998. She has been Associate Dean for Research and Higher Education at the College of Health and Human Development since 2013. She previously held the position on an interim basis. Dean of the College of Health and Human Development in 2018.

Drager received the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2003 and was a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s Academic Leadership Program from 2016 to 2017.

She holds a Doctorate and Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota.


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