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

Humaira Waqar provides senior administrative and advisory support to the Vice Provost and Dean. This involves administrative responsibilities and management of processes, reporting and data needs. Her work requires an in depth understanding of university-wide practice, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the Vice Provost and Dean’s priorities, portfolio, commitments and key performance indicators. She is the point person for the FGS Council, FGSC Executive Committee, FGS Policy Committee, FGS Grad College Oversight Committee and the FGS ii' taa'poh'to'p Working Group. She also chairs the FGS United Way working committee and represents FGS at the university-wide United Way Cabinet. Humaira is a UCalgary alum with a MSc in Sustainable Energy Development and also holds an MBA.

Associate Deans

Dr. Michelle Drefs, PhD, Associate Dean (Student Life)

Dr. Michelle Drefs has been with the University of Calgary for fifteen years, where she has served as both the Director of Training and Academic Coordinator for Werklund’s School and Applied Child Psychology program. Dr. Drefs is a Registered Psychologist and holds a BA/BEd degree from the University of Lethbridge, and an MSc and PhD in Applied Psychology from the University of Calgary. Prior to her academic career, she held positions as both a K-12 teacher in northern Alberta and a school psychologist with Golden Hills School Division. 

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.