April 11, 2013

Dean Knuth Took ‘Different Path’ to Cornell

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Barbara Knuth, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, said when she began her college career as a pre-medical student at the Miami University of Ohio, she had no idea what the future had in store for her.

Growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Knuth’s interest in the outdoors led her to want to study the sciences — an interest she said she believed would take her to medical school.  Instead, she earned degrees in zoology, philosophy and environmental science and pursued research in natural resources.

“When I was in high school applying to college, I believed that I was going to be pre-med, just like everybody else,” Knuth said. “Then I had some experiences working for the U.S. Forest Service and for the National Parks Service, and so I came to understand the draw of natural resources and natural resource management, so that set me on a different path.”

Knuth, who said she likes to hike and canoe in her free time, described Ithaca as a dream come true.

Before becoming vice provost and dean of the Graduate school, Knuth came to Cornell as an assistant professor of natural resources after receiving her Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  She was promoted to associate and full-time professor, and later became the chair of the department and the senior associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Since becoming dean in 2010, Knuth has started a number of initiatives to serve graduate students, including the Office of Inclusion and Professional Development, which offers programs that teaches students life skills such as personal financial management, how to cultivate positive relationships with faculty and how to raise awareness about job opportunities, according to Knuth.

“Our goal is to support graduate students as whole people,” Knuth said.  “We want to consider all the aspects they need for academic success, personal and social success and have a range of programs and opportunities to help support them in different aspects of their lives.”

Knuth’s said her goal for the University is for every entering doctoral student be provided with a fellowship.

Original Author: Elizabeth Kussman