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An engineering management expert has been named leader of graduate programs at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, school officials said Monday.

Kim LaScola Needy takes over after serving as interim dean of graduate school and international education. She replaced Todd Shields, who in March became dean of UA's Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

"What my focus is going to be on is to grow our graduate programs, not only in quantity, but -- first and foremost -- in quality of graduate students," Needy said.

Needy, who previously led UA's department of industrial engineering, becomes the first woman to lead UA's graduate school and international education programs. Her office serves both undergraduate and graduate foreign students as well as graduate students, except for those enrolled in the Walton College Graduate School of Business and the School of Law.

Needy will earn $245,000 in salary as dean -- a large increase from the $176,752 earned by Shields. Needy earned $209,048 as an engineering professor.

"Her experience and ability to move programs forward will be helpful to the Graduate School and International Education in their current period of growth," Sharon Gaber, UA's provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, said in a statement.

Overall graduate student enrollment, not including the law school, increased by more than 1,000 students over the past 10 years, with 3,942 graduate students enrolled in the fall of last year. In the most recent academic year that ended in May, UA awarded 1,088 master's degrees and 280 doctoral degrees.

Needy said growth will help UA achieve its goal of becoming a top 50 public university.

"The top 50 ranking looks very specifically at quality of students and number of Ph.D.'s granted," Needy said, adding that the university will look to increase enrollment in science, technology and engineering graduate programs.

Another goal is to improve rankings of individual graduate programs, she said. The university in March noted a dramatic rise in the ranking by U.S. News and World Report of UA's graduate education program, up to 86th nationally from 132nd a year earlier.

"At the University of Arkansas, students who come to study here are going to get a lot of contact time and personal attention from their Ph.D. advisors, from their graduate advisors," Needy said.

"Along with growing our graduate programs at the U of A, certainly we're going to have to address the services that we provide for the graduate students," Needy said.

As part of her role overseeing foreign students, Needy said she will look to expand opportunities for undergraduates to study in another country, as well as to recruit top foreign students.

NW News on 07/29/2014

Print Headline: Woman to lead UA grad program

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