Academic Leader Robin Poston to Join SMU as Dean of Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Robin Poston

DALLAS (SMU) – Robin Suzanne Poston, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Memphis, has been named dean of SMU’s Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and associate provost for graduate education. She will assume her position at SMU on Monday, Aug. 15.

Poston has since 2018 led strategic initiatives at the University of Memphis to modernize academic, scholarly and international approaches that support enrollment growth, student success and timely graduation in its Graduate School. These initiatives serve Ph.D., professional and graduate certificate students across 161 graduate programs in 12 colleges and schools.

Poston also has served since 2015 as director of the Systems Testing Excellence Program (STEP) at the University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology. In that capacity she has supported interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students on government and industry-sponsored projects to build up research and curricular competencies, helping to promote STEP as an internationally recognized group of thought leaders in the science of systems testing. STEP researchers are currently working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Air Force Institute of Technology and in the past have performed projects for the Defense Information Systems Agency of the Department of Defense, FedEx Corporation and others.

“The Moody School for Graduate and Advanced Studies is focused on improving the quality and success of SMU’s graduate programs in concert with strategic investments in the research enterprise,” said Elizabeth G. Loboa, SMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Graduate education is an essential component of a university’s research ecosystem, and doctoral students, in particular, constitute important metrics in the Carnegie Classification, which is used to distinguish universities in terms of their research productivity.

“Dr. Poston is a proven leader with deep experience at the intersection of research and graduate education,” Loboa added. “She was the chief architect in the rise of University of Memphis from R2 to R1 in the Carnegie rankings, and we are excited that she is joining SMU’s leadership team at this time in our quest for even greater academic quality.”

SMU launched its eighth degree-granting school during the 2020–21 academic year after a landmark $100 million commitment from the Moody Foundation in November 2019. Before its establishment, all graduate programs at SMU were administered through individual schools, such as Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The investment in a more strategic approach to graduate-level education and research signaled the University’s determination to be a full partner in global and commercial problem-solving, and a pipeline for leaders to tackle those challenges.

“This is an exciting time to be at SMU, as we move forward with many new initiatives dedicated to improving our global outreach,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Dr. Poston will help us build our research and graduate education capabilities to meet needs that we don’t even know exist yet.”

SMU is committed to achieving Carnegie Classification R1 research status, directing increased resources toward research-driven problem-solving in North Texas and beyond, as well as growing the pipeline of SMU-educated Ph.D. professionals to teach and work at other universities and research laboratories and in industry. For example, SMU is hiring additional faculty to work in interdisciplinary groups focused on two areas for strategic research excellence in fall 2022 with plans for interdisciplinary hires in data science in fall 2023:

  • Earth hazards and national security.
  • 21st century technology and education.

Additionally, the University has created and expects to fill a new position – vice provost for research and chief innovation officer – in the next academic year.

“SMU has a unique opportunity to raise the bar for graduate education with the newly created Moody School,” Poston said. “I am honored to be able to join the University’s graduate leadership team in moving SMU to new heights of excellence.”
Poston follows distinguished geoscientist James Quick, who is stepping down after serving as inaugural dean of the Moody School from its inception and begins a sabbatical on June 1. Renee McDonald, Dedman College senior associate dean for research and academic affairs and professor of psychology, will serve as dean ad interim of the Moody School and associate provost for graduate education ad interim until Poston arrives on campus.

Poston received her B.A.S. in computer science at the University of Pennsylvania (1987), M.S. in accounting from the University of Central Florida (1992) and Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in management information systems from Michigan State University (2003).


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