Gavin Young
KU Office of Public Affairs

Roberts named dean of Graduate Studies

Wed, 12/11/2013

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas has named Michael C. Roberts, founding director of the university’s top-ranked clinical child psychology program, to be the new dean of Graduate Studies.

Roberts, who recently stepped down as director of clinical child psychology after 21 years, will assume leadership of Graduate Studies at the beginning of 2014. At the same time, the Office of Research & Graduate Studies will become the Office of Graduate Studies and the Office of Research. Vice Chancellor Steve Warren will continue to lead the Office of Research.

“I firmly believe that graduate research and education is fundamentally at the core of a public, international research university,” Roberts said. “I look forward to working closely with the College and the schools to enhance the quality of our numerous programs and raise the stature of graduate studies overall.”

Roberts joined KU in 1991 to establish a new interdepartmental program to provide education and training for clinical child psychology at the master’s and doctoral level. The program is now recognized as one of the best in the nation and is ranked sixth out of 216 clinical psychology programs in the 2014 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools.”

As dean of Graduate Studies, Roberts plans to bolster the office’s centralized support for the goals, benchmarks and assessment metrics established by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and professional schools for graduate education. In particular, he intends to continue to grow the use of data by the Office of Graduate Studies to enhance graduate recruitment as well as the preparation and placement of graduate students.

“Graduate programs and departments are in the best position to stay attuned to their disciplines and respond to a changing environment,” Roberts said. “As dean, I will enhance collaborations with our programs to enhance their work, and in particular to improve the visibility of our outstanding students and programs across the KU community and external constituencies.”

Roberts will succeed Thomas Heilke, who announced earlier this year he would be leaving KU to become associate dean of the College of Graduate Studies at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus. The newly independent Office of Graduate Studies will report to Sara Rosen, senior vice provost for academic affairs. The search committee for the position was led by Rodolfo Torres, associate vice chancellor for KU research and professor of mathematics.

“Michael will be a tremendous leader for Graduate Studies as we continue to implement the goals and strategies of Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan,” Rosen said. “He brings a strong commitment to KU and our overall goal of enhancing doctoral education. I’d like to thank the search committee and Rodolfo for their work, and I look forward to working closely with Michael.”

Roberts earned his master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Purdue University. Prior to joining KU in 1991, he was professor of psychology at the University of Alabama. His position in clinical child psychology includes appointments as professor in the departments of Psychology and the Applied Behavioral Science, and as courtesy professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine. In addition, he has been a licensed psychologist since 1980.

His honors at KU include the John C. Wright Graduate Mentor Award in 2013 and a Kemper Teaching Award in 2007. He is a past recipient of the Beverly Thorn Award for outstanding service as director of clinical training by the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology. In addition, the KU Clinical Child Psychology program was awarded the Suinn Minority Achievement Award by the American Psychological Association in 2009.

Happy Kansas Day, Kansans! We caught sunflowers standing tall at the Grinter Family Farms just outside Lawrence last fall. You may wonder how the sunflower came to be the State flower in 1903 and we found an excerpt from Kansas legislation: Whereas, Kansas has a native wild flower common throughout her borders, hardy and conspicuous, of definite, unvarying and striking shape, easily sketched, moulded, and carved, having armorial capacities, ideally adapted for artistic reproduction, with its strong, distinct disk and its golden circle of clear glowing rays -- a flower that a child can draw on a slate, a woman can work in silk, or a man can carve on stone or fashion in clay; and Whereas, This flower has to all Kansans a historic symbolism which speaks of frontier days, winding trails, pathless prairies, and is full of the life and glory of the past, the pride of the present, and richly emblematic of the majesty of a golden future, and is a flower which has given Kansas the world-wide name, "the sunflower state"... Be it enacted ... that the helianthus or wild native sunflower is ... designated ... the state flower and floral emblem of the state of Kansas.

Have family visiting Lawrence? #exploreKU and take them to the @KUnhm like @ChrisCanDesign did.
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (, associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times