Robin L. Garrell became president of the CUNY Graduate Center on August 1, 2020. A distinguished scientist and academic leader committed to public higher education, Garrell continues the line from the Graduate Center’s first president, Mina Rees, another renowned STEM scholar.
Garrell came to the Graduate Center after nine years as vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate Division of UCLA, where she had campus-wide responsibility for nearly 12,000 academic and professional graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. She has been noted throughout her career for advancing diversity, and during her appointment as vice provost and dean, enrollment in UCLA’s graduate and professional degree programs by members of historically underrepresented groups increased 40 percent.
Garrell has served as UCLA’s principal investigator on NSF Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate projects to advance the careers of STEM graduate students and postdocs, and on grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement holistic graduate admissions practices in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. She served as chair of the Faculty Executive Committee of the UCLA College and of the campus Academic Senate. As a professor of chemistry and bioengineering, Garrell led the NSF Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Materials Training Program. She is a member of the California NanoSystems Institute and serves as an elected commissioner on the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission, and on the Educational Testing Service’s Graduate Record Exam and Test of English as a Foreign Language advisory boards. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.
Garrell was born in Detroit, Michigan, and received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry with honors and distinction from Cornell University in 1978. She earned her Ph.D. in macromolecular science and engineering from the University of Michigan in 1984. She previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, where she was the first female faculty member in the Department of Chemistry.