Following an international search, Aimée Surprenant, the associate vice president (academic) and dean of the School of Graduate Studies for Memorial University of Newfoundland, has been appointed as the new dean of Virginia Tech’s graduate school, effective Sept. 1.
Surprenant will succeed Karen DePauw, who announced her retirement in January 2020 after an 18-year career at VT. Surprenant will lead the graduate school’s budgetary, admissions, and program development operations and will serve as a member of the executive vice president and provost’s leadership team as well as an advisor to graduate student organizations.
“I’m excited to join the team in the graduate school to continue and advance the great work that is already underway at Virginia Tech,” said Surprenant. “I’m looking forward to working with students, faculty, and staff to support an equitable and just graduate community that nurtures practitioners, scholars, and researchers, and prepares them to be future leaders on the national and global stage.
“The recent upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, continuing social injustices, and climate change have created daunting challenges, but I am confident that in working together, we can find innovative solutions to create transformative change,” Surprenant said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to take on this position and offer my deepest thanks to outgoing Dean Karen DePauw.”
Surprenant brings a wealth of leadership experience and a distinguished record of accomplishment as an academician, researcher, and administrator to Virginia Tech.
As associate vice president and dean at Memorial University, she successfully led a program portfolio of more than 120 graduate diploma, master’s, and doctoral degree programs for over 4,000 graduate students, and guided the university’s strategic graduate enrollment management planning and recruitment processes.
She also was responsible for the leadership and growth of graduate student funding and partnered with Memorial’s graduate council to advance policies and curricula to promote continuing improvement of and innovation in graduate programs.
“Aimée’s strength of leadership and scholarship, and her commitment to collaboration with faculty and students comes at a critical time for our Graduate School and university,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke, who appointed Surprenant. “I look forward to working closely with her to develop and implement strategies for growth of graduate education in support of our commitment to impactful scholarship.
Surprenant is a respected expert in the field of psychology and research in the intersection of auditory perception and memory. She has co-authored two books, “Human Memory: An Introduction to Research, Data, and Theory” and “Principles of Memory,” and authored, edited, and contributed to numerous book chapters, papers, publications, and other scholarly articles. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies and the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools. She has also served as chair of the Scientific Affairs Committee for the Canadian Psychological Association and is active in Science Atlantic and the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science.
During her tenure at Memorial University, Surprenant was honored with The Glenn Roy Blundon Award Leadership in Institutional Change for contributions to the ongoing development of equitable and accessible learning and living environments for students at Memorial. She also earned the Richard C. Tees Distinguished Leadership Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science, and the Dean of Science Distinguished Scholar Medal.
Surprenant holds a Ph.D. and Master of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in psychology from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from New York University.