Graduate School Dean Andrew Campbell will step down from his role after six years and return to the faculty as a professor of medical science on June 30, according to a March 11 press release.
During his term, Campbell worked to implement a strategic vision for the Grad School, focusing on increasing the school’s size and diversity, according to a March 11 Today@Brown announcement by Provost Richard Locke P’18.
According to the press release, enrollment of graduate students from historically underrepresented groups and overall enrollment levels reached record highs during Campbell’s tenure. The Grad School also achieved its 10-year goals for enrollment and student diversity within two years of establishing them, the press release said.
As dean, Campbell led efforts to eliminate the Graduate Records Examination test score requirement in admissions for 24 of the University’s PhD programs, introduce new programs to make the Grad School more inclusive — including an orientation program for students of color — and expand the Open Graduate Education program, which allows doctoral students to apply to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field, Locke wrote in the announcement.
Campbell also worked to directly connect with students by holding feedback sessions where the graduate student community could express concerns, The Herald previously reported.
Campbell said that his own experiences as a graduate student — he earned a PhD in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1987 — shaped his work as a dean.
“Becoming Graduate School dean was an opportunity for me to replicate the good experiences I had as a graduate student, and to make better the experiences that could have been better for me,” Campbell told The Herald. “That’s the reason I was really excited to become dean. All of my initiatives are really derivative of that lived experience.”
Campbell said his personal experience pushed him to focus on the daily needs of students, including by emphasizing financial support and community building for graduate students with children or relocation needs.
“Over the past six years, I have taken great pride in the work we have done to make graduate education accessible to all students,” Campbell said. “We have worked to help make sure that Brown is a welcoming place for all students, and to help all of our graduate students feel a sense of belonging.”
Beyond work at the University, Campbell served as the 2021 board chair of the Council of Graduate Schools and was named a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Society for Cell Biology during his deanship, according to the press release.
Now, Campbell will return to the faculty appointment he held from 1994 to 2016. Locke will lead a search committee to choose Campbell’s successor, according to the press release.
“Andrew has been a stalwart partner and a steadfast proponent for graduate students throughout his tenure,” Locke wrote. “While I will miss his vision and presence on the senior leadership team, I am happy he is continuing his research and teaching at Brown.”
Emphasizing his belief that “change is good,” Campbell said that he did not plan on remaining dean indefinitely.
“One of our former presidents, Vartan Gregorian, would often make these analogies that plants need to be repotted to thrive,” Campbell said. “I see this as an opportunity of replanting myself.”
“Being dean is not about me. It’s about the people I work with, who are faculty, staff and students. It’s about the people I work for. That’s what I want to be my primary focus, and I feel that I’ve done that well in six years,” he said. “I’m not sure that there’s much more that I can do in this role. I’ve learned a lot, and I hope to apply what I learned in other ways.”
Prioritizing student needs will continue to motivate Campbell once he returns to a faculty position, he said.
“I’m going to continue what I have been doing … caring about students and supporting students. It all falls under that broad umbrella, whether it’s teaching, research, what have you,” Campbell said.
Campbell’s research focuses on microbial diseases, particularly in neglected populations and regions, and he is currently principal investigator on two National Institute of Health grants, according to the press release.
One of those grants funds the Initiative to Maximize Student Development, which helps graduate students transition to biomedical and STEM research careers through professional development opportunities and academic support. Campbell listed continued involvement with the program among his future plans.
Campbell said that as a dean, he was able to collaborate with colleagues outside of his appointment in biomedical sciences and hopes to apply this experience to his future work.
“Knowing that I have closer colleagues … and understanding students in different disciplines is going to be helpful to me as I go back and work with graduate students,” he said.
In his final months as a dean, Campbell said he is looking forward to attending commencement.
“Six years is about the average time for a PhD degree,” Campbell said. “I would say the bulk of the students who I admitted when I started as dean will be graduating this year. We have the classes of 2022 and 2020 coming back, and I want to be able to wish some of them farewell.”
Caleb Lazar is the senior editor of data desk for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board.