Graduate school accepts new director

By Elizabeth zinchuk

The new graduate school director said she plans to increase marketing efforts and communications.

Susan Ford started her duties as associate dean and graduate school director Nov. 19. The position had been vacant since August. Ford was an anthropology department chair and professor after she joined the university’s faculty in 1979.

“I am very excited and pleased


about my position,” she said. “It was a position I have always thought was interesting and challenging, but also allowed you to make a difference.”

Ford said the graduate school director’s duties encompass the entire graduate student process, from answering students’ questions about graduate education to the their requests for degree clearance. The graduate office is often busy, she said.

Ford said she plans to use her position to make and maintain graduate program improvements, and one change is increased marketing efforts.

The university has not marketed it’s graduate programs well, she said.

“People have told me in the past that they do not realize how much SIU has to offer through graduate school options,” she said.

Ford said she wants the graduate school office to be the central place students can go if they have graduate education issues such as questions about graduate degree requirements.

She said wants to connect departmental graduate programs


to the office so the graduate school administrators can work together.

Ford said her time spent at SIU helped her get appointed to her new position.

“I believe in the quality of an SIU education,” she said. “I love SIU, and have devoted my professional career here.”

She said her graduate council and department chair duties have made her familiar with graduate education issues, policies and regulations.

Ford said during her position’s vacancy, Ratna Sinha, the graduate school associate director, helped out. Sinha said she has known Ford for 12 years.

“We have a wonderful staff here who kept things from falling through the cracks until the vacancy was

filled,” Sinha said.

When Ford was a department chair

and the graduate school had to contact her, she was always helpful, Sinha said, and she was impressed with Ford’s graduate knowledge.

She said Ford’s goals are to increase enrollment and recruitment.

“We are doing many new things under her direction,” she said.

Sinha said the graduate school has already increased college fair contact and recruitment opportunities.

Anthony Webster, associate professor in anthropology, said he has worked closely with Ford and has known her for the past seven years.

“She was a good mentor to me when I was first hired,” Webster said. “I thought she was good as a chair

and did an excellent job.”

Webster said Ford’s appointment to

director is a positive sign for graduate students, and her position will bring leadership to the graduate school.

“She cares about graduate students and her priority is for them to succeed,” Webster said. “She is willing to look at obstacles for graduate students and not seeing them as immutable.”

John Koropchak, vice chancellor for research and graduate dean, said Ford moved to the top in the search for a new director.

“We hope to rise to an even higher level of excellence in the future especially now through Susan’s experience,” he said.

Ford was originally a visiting instructor in 1979 until she was hired on as an assistant professor from 1980 to 1986. She was an associate professor from 1986 to 2012, and became a professor earlier this year. She was the anthropology department chair from 2005 to 2011.

The SIU Board of Trustees approved Ford’s $126,660 salary at Thursday’s meeting.