Our leadership team

The Associate Deans and leaders of the faculty embody the innovative and creative qualities of research and teaching at the University of Calgary.

Robin Yates, PhD

Vice Provost and Dean, Graduate Studies

Office of the Dean

Robin Yates

Dr. Robin Yates, PhD, Vice Provost and Dean

After practicing as a veterinarian in Australia, Robin completed his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in Biomedical Science at Cornell University, USA. He became faculty at the University of Calgary in 2008 with a joint appointment to Veterinary Medicine and Medicine where he currently leads a research group in the field of immunology. In 2015, Robin completed a Master of Tertiary Education Management from the University of Melbourne and took on the role of Associate Dean (Student), and later the Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Studies where he led a team focused on graduate student affairs. In February of 2020, he was appointed as Dean and Vice-Provost of Graduate Studies.

Humaira Waqar, Executive Assistant to the Vice Provost and Dean

Associate deans


Dr. Jalel Azaiez, PhD, Senior Associate Dean

As Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Azaiez helps in the transition of the Leadership Team, coordinates administrative workloads of the Associate Deans at FGS and ensures consistency in decisions, evaluations, and approvals made by the Associate Deans.  He offers advice and assistance to all members of the Dean’s office, including the Associate Deans, Senior Director, and the Dean. Dr. Azaiez works closely with the Associate Dean Policy and Program Development to assist in the initiation of changes to FGS Academic Regulations, Policies, and Procedures, the development of new programs, and the interpretation and clear communication of relevant policies and procedures to Graduate Program Directors, students and supervisors. In consultation with the other Associate Deans at FGS and on behalf of the Dean, he makes decisions on failed candidacy and thesis examinations. Dr. Azaiez chairs the Calendar Group Committee and serves on FGS Policy Committee. He is a member of the Graduate Academic Programs Standing Committee, FGS Council and the FGS Council Executive Committee, and consults with and stand-in for the Dean, as required.

Donna-Marie McCafferty

Dr. Donna-Marie McCafferty, PhD, Associate Dean (Scholarships)

Dr. McCafferty is responsible for awards and scholarships made available to graduate students through the Faculty of Graduate Studies. These include the Killam and Vanier awards, and Tri-Council scholarships offered through the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Graduate Awards Competition. Dr. McCafferty is the FGS representative on the Associate Deans Research Committee, and serves as the liaison with the Vice President Research office and relevant University ethics committees. Dr. McCafferty also works with the Associate Dean (Students) on student-related issues.


Dr. Clifton Cunningham, PhD, Associate Dean (Students)

Dr. Cunningham works closely with Dr. Robin Yates, Vice Provost and Dean and the Faculty of Graduate Studies Academic Specialists. This group supports graduate students and faculty experiencing issues with supervision, research progress and extensions, misconduct, exams and conflict. Dr. Cunningham collaborates with partners across campus including the International Student Services, the Student Success Centre, The Wellness Centre and others to ensure that graduate student success is supported through effective programming and referral services. Dr. Cunningham also reviews thesis exams, extensions and leaves of absence.

Mary Grantham O'Brien

Dr. Mary Grantham O'Brien, PhD, Associate Dean (Policy)

Dr. O’Brien chairs the Faculty of Graduate Studies Policy Committee, which oversees the review, approval and implementation of changes to FGS policy, regulations and procedures. She works on the development, approval and initiation of new graduate programs and credentials. Dr. O’Brien also works on international program development and is responsible for the management of graduate degree-related agreements between institutions. Additionally, she sits on the Associate Deans International Committee. Other responsibilities include the renewal of supervisory privileges and approval of new supervisors and external examiners for thesis examinations.


Catherine McLeod, Senior Director, Strategic Operations

Catherine McLeod has strategic oversight for all FGS business operations, and works closely with FGS managers and team members in Admission and Records, Scholarships and Awards, My GradSkills, and Communications. She is a member of the FGS Leadership and Executive committees and represents FGS on numerous committees across campus. Catherine troubleshoots complex and escalated matters related to graduate students and is a great resource for consultation and planning.

Kim Suvan, Administrative Assistant

Kim Suvan provides administrative support to the Senior Director and Associate Deans. She coordinates student and faculty events, new supervisor workshops, some graduate level appeals, and acts as departmental liaison/coordinator for Let’s Talk Science and the Graduate Leaders’ Circle. She publishes the GRADvisor and GRADpost newsletters, co-chairs the Safety Committee, and sits on the FGS United Way Committee. She is a point-person for calendar requests and special requests specific to the Senior Director and Associate Deans.