CORVALLIS, Ore. - Brenda C. McComb, a professor and head of the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, has been named dean of the OSU Graduate School.

McComb assumes leadership of a program that works with the university's academic colleges to provide graduate-level education and degrees. More than 3,600 graduate students are enrolled at OSU, with most pursuing Ph.D.s (1,260) or master's (1,806) degrees. A number of other students (657) are taking graduate classes without seeking a degree.

Oregon State has been seeking to strengthen existing graduate programs and develop targeted new programs to advance the three signature areas of the strategic plan, according to Sabah Randhawa, OSU provost and executive vice president.

"One focus of the university's strategic plan is to boost graduate student enrollment and attract more high-achieving students into our master's and doctoral programs," Randhawa said. "It also reflects our commitment to educate and train the next generation of educators, researchers and scientists. Brenda McComb's experience and vision will help us achieve those goals."

McComb first joined the OSU faculty in 1987, with dual appointments in the departments of forest science and fisheries and wildlife. In 1996, McComb left Oregon State and went to the University of Massachusetts, where she headed the Department of Natural Resources Conservation and later became associate dean for research in the College of Natural Resources and the Environment.

An expert in the relationships between wildlife and forest habitats, McComb has led or participated in several major research efforts at OSU and other universities, and mentored numerous graduate students.

McComb said her vision for the Graduate School is to increase its visibility and effectiveness and align it more closely with the university's strategic plan. In addition to exploring new interdisciplinary degree programs both on campus and through Ecampus, McComb will focus on the success and welfare of the graduate students and their advisers at OSU.

"We have a huge opportunity to advance online degree opportunities for people around the world," McComb said. "And with the growing INTO OSU program, we have the opportunity to align attractive graduate programs with students from around the world."

OSU offers more than 70 master's degree programs, three professional master's degrees, and 54 doctoral programs.

McComb, who takes over as dean of the Graduate School on April 18, succeeds Sally Francis, who recently retired.

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Sabah Randhawa, 541-737-2111