BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Lori McMahon has been named dean of the Graduate School at the University of Alabama at Birmingham following a national search guided by a 13-member committee made up of students, faculty and staff, and chaired by UAB Vice President for Research and Economic Development Richard Marchase.
Marchase said the search committee was pleased with the size and strength of the applicant pool, especially candidates from within UAB, and that the committee is pleased McMahon will serve as UAB’s Graduate School dean.
“There were several candidates who really stood out, and among those Lori was a clear choice of the committee,” he said. “Her extensive experience in graduate education, her innovative approaches to how graduate education can be improved, and her enthusiastic ability to interface with both prospective and current students were distinguishing factors.”
McMahon will strive to enrich excellence and innovation in graduate education through professional and career-development initiatives and lead collaborative efforts for recruitment and outreach with academic units to attract highly qualified students. She also will monitor the academic status of students and provide support and oversight for administrative functions within the Graduate School. McMahon will report directly to the provost and will work closely with deans in all academic areas.
“Her extensive experience in graduate education, her innovative approaches to how graduate education can be improved, and her enthusiastic ability to interface with both prospective and current students were distinguishing factors,” Marchase said.
“Dr. McMahon has a reputation for working well with faculty across our very broad and diverse enterprise, and she has a real passion for mentoring doctoral students,” UAB Provost Linda Lucas said. “She always has doctoral students in her lab. She will bring an energy and dedication to this position that will have far-reaching benefits for students, faculty and staff.”
A current UAB professor of cell, developmental and integrative biology, McMahon is also the Jarman F. Lowder Professor of Neuroscience and director of the UAB Comprehensive Neuroscience Center. She is associate director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Institute, is associate director for the Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, and also holds appointments in the Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Civitan International Research Center and the Center for Exercise Medicine.
“I have been fortunate since joining UAB in 1998 to work in a tremendously collaborative environment among outstanding faculty committed to developing highly educated trainees with the knowledge and integrity to go out and change the world,” McMahon said. “I am honored and humbled to be the dean of the Graduate School and look forward to working with faculty and students from disciplines across campus to build upon our growing prominence as a world-renowned research university.”
McMahon — who earned her doctorate in neuropharmacology from Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center — joined the faculty at UAB in 1998 as an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics after completing her postdoctoral training at Duke University Medical Center. She is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, American Physiological Society and International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment.
“I would like to thank the search committee for their commitment to identifying an exceptional candidate for this job,” UAB President Ray L. Watts said. “Thanks to the time and thoughtful consideration of many students, faculty, staff and supporters over many months, UAB has welcomed terrific new leadership in many areas across campus, and I am pleased Dr. McMahon will take on this important role as we strive to maximize the reach and effectiveness of UAB’s world-class graduate education opportunities.”
Associate Dean Jeffrey Engler has been interim dean of the Graduate School at UAB during the search for a permanent candidate to fill the vacancy created by the Dec. 31, 2014, retirement of Bryan Noe, who was UAB’s first full-time Graduate School dean from 2005 to 2014.
UAB’s graduate enrollment, up 43 percent in the past decade, is the highest among Alabama universities, at 5,937 in fall 2014. The diverse group, which is two-thirds female and nearly 30 percent minority, is pursuing degrees in 50 master’s programs, 37 doctoral programs and eight education specialist programs.
McMahon’s first day as dean will be Oct. 1.
McMahon is the daughter of Duane and Yvonne Mossman of Alton. She graduated from St. Ambrose Catholic School in Godfrey, Marquette Catholic High School in Alton and received her bachelor of science degree from SIUE. Lori resides with her husband, Dr. John Wakefield, in Birmingham, and has three sons, Patrick McMahon, Michael McMahon and Collin McMahon.