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. Robin currently leads a research group at the Cumming School of Medicine in the field of immunology. In 2015, he 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.

Ingrid Hernandez, Executive Assistant to the Vice Provost and Dean

Associate Deans

Mary Grantham O'Brien

Dr. Mary Grantham O'Brien, PhD, Senior Associate Dean

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.

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.

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

Dr. Drefs is one of two Associate Deans assigned to the Students/Experience portfolio and works closely with the other AD Students (Dr. Cunningham), the FGS leadership team, and the Academic Specialists to support graduate students and faculty experiencing issues with supervision, research progress and extensions, misconduct, exams, and conflict. Dr. Drefs also reviews thesis exams, extensions, and leaves of absence. She also works with other University partners to ensure that graduate student success is supported through effective programming and referral services. Dr. Drefs is a Registered Psychologist and holds a PhD and MSc in Applied Psychology from the University of Calgary and a BA/BEd degree from the University of Lethbridge.


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.

Jing Wang, Administrative Assistant

Jing Wang 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 the Graduate Leaders’ Circle. She is a point-person for calendar requests and special requests specific to the Senior Director and Associate Deans.