Aimée Surprenant appointed dean of Virginia Tech’s Graduate School

Aimée Surprenant
Aimée Surprenant will lead and advance the Graduate School’s budgetary, admissions and program development operations, and will serve as a member of the executive vice president and provost’s leadership team as well as an advisor to graduate student organizations. Photo courtesy of Aimée Surprenant

Aimée Surprenant, associate vice president and dean of the School of Graduate Studies for Memorial University of Newfoundland, will serve as the new dean of Virginia Tech’s Graduate School, effective Sept. 1.

Following an international search, Surprenant has been appointed by Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke to succeed Karen DePauw, who announced her retirement in January 2020 after a distinguished 18-year career at Virginia Tech. Surprenant will lead and advance the Graduate School’s budgetary, admissions, and program development operations and will serve as a member of the executive vice president and provost’s leadership team as well as an advisor to graduate student organizations.

“I’m excited to join the team in the Graduate School to continue and advance the great work that is already underway at Virginia Tech,” said Surprenant. “I’m eagerly looking forward to working with students, faculty, and staff to support an equitable and just graduate community that nurtures practitioners, scholars, and researchers, and prepares them to be future leaders on the national and global stage. The recent upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing social injustices, and climate change have created daunting challenges, but I am confident that in working together, we can find innovative solutions to create transformative change.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to take on this position and offer my deepest thanks to outgoing Dean Karen DePauw.”

Surprenant brings a wealth of leadership experience to Virginia Tech and a distinguished record of accomplishment as an academician, researcher, and administrator.

As associate vice president and dean at Memorial University, Surprenant successfully led a program portfolio of more than 120 graduate diploma, master’s, and doctoral degree programs for over 4,000 graduate students, and guided the university’s strategic graduate enrolment management planning and recruitment processes. She also was responsible for the leadership and growth of graduate student funding and partnered with Memorial’s Graduate Council to advance policies and curricula to promote continuing improvement of and innovation in graduate programs.

“Aimée’s strength of leadership and scholarship, and her commitment to collaboration with faculty and students comes at a critical time for our Graduate School and university,” said Clarke. “I look forward to working closely with her to develop and implement strategies for growth of graduate education in support of our commitment to impactful scholarship.

“I want to thank Dean DePauw for her years of service and invaluable contributions to Virginia Tech,” Clarke continued. “Karen has been a dedicated advocate for graduate students and her impact on the university will be felt for years to come. I wish her all the best in her retirement.”

Surprenant is a respected expert in the field of psychology and research in the intersection of auditory perception and memory. She has co-authored two books, “Human Memory: An Introduction to Research, Data, and Theory” and “Principles of Memory,” and authored, edited, and contributed to numerous book chapters, papers, publications, and other scholarly articles. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies and the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools. She has also served as chair of the Scientific Affairs Committee for the Canadian Psychological Association and is active in Science Atlantic and the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science.

During her tenure at Memorial University, Surprenant was honored with The Glenn Roy Blundon Award Leadership in Institutional Change (with School of Graduate Studies) for contributions to the ongoing development of equitable and accessible learning and living environments for students at Memorial. She also earned the Richard C. Tees Distinguished Leadership Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science, and the Dean of Science Distinguished Scholar Medal.

Surprenant is a Fellow of the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science for her distinguished, sustained, and exceptional contributions to the society and to the advancement of the field of brain, behavior, and cognitive science. She is also a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association and the Psychonomic Society.

Surprenant holds a Ph.D., Master of Philosophy, and Master of Science degrees in psychology from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from New York University.


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