In her previous role as dean of engineering and applied sciences at the University at Buffalo, Liesl Folks oversaw impressive growth, advocated for minorities and women in STEM, and worked to support graduate students through successful degree completion.
Now the University of Arizona's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Folks reaffirms her commitment to graduate education. In a recent discussion with the UArizona Graduate Center, she mentioned potential avenues for development in graduate curriculum, as well as areas meriting further attention – including improving recruitment and retention of international students, mentoring, and preparing students for diverse careers.
Folks' perspective on the job market is optimistic. “I push back against the idea that the preparation for an academic career is terribly different from the preparation for an industry or government career," she said. “The same features that help you excel in graduate school will propel you to success in any career: high executive function, good decision-making, strong critical reasoning, great communication, the ability to articulate complicated ideas succinctly, and so on.
“If you’re well-trained in graduate school, you’ll do well anywhere you choose to go.”