News and Announcements

Announcing a new vice-provost and dean of Graduate Studies at SFU

June 13, 2023

We are pleased to let you know that the new vice-provost and dean of Graduate Studies is Mary O’Brien, who currently serves as the Senior Associate Dean (Policy and Program Development) in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and as a professor of German in the Faculty of Arts, at the University of Calgary.

Mary tells us she was initially attracted to the role due to SFU’s reputation as a community that is open to new ideas and that does things differently. SFU, she says, is on an upward trajectory, and Graduate Studies is poised to play a central role in that future growth. She is excited about engaging with students, faculty, staff and the broader community to understand where Graduate Studies is and to help shape a meaningful future.

She obtained her PhD in German linguistics from the University of Wisconsin in 2003. She has spent her academic career at the University of Calgary. In her work in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, she has spearheaded the development of innovative transdisciplinary thesis- and course-based programs, and, in collaboration with the Graduate Students’ Association, has worked on minimum funding initiatives for all thesis-based MSc, MA and PhD students. She has worked closely with Indigenous students, faculty members and Elders to ensure meaningful incorporation of Indigenous practices and languages into graduate work. Her primary research interests include the perception and production of second language speech and how listeners react to it. Her recent highly collaborative work has focused on the real-world implications of speaking with an accent.

I want to thank Jeff Derksen, the current dean and associate provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, who will conclude his appointment when his term ends on June 30, 2023. Jeff has provided excellent leadership and advocacy for the needs of graduate students.

Mary will start in her new role on August 1, 2023.

Please join me in thanking Jeff for his service and welcoming Mary to SFU.

Yours truly,

Wade Parkhouse
Provost and Vice-President Academic, pro tem