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Professor Joshua Barker is new dean of the School of Graduate Studies

Associate Professor Joshua Barker will be the new dean of the School of Graduate Studies (photo by Johnny Guatto)

Associate Professor Joshua Barker has been appointed dean of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and vice-provost of graduate research and education. 

The five-year term begins July 1, as he transitions into the role from his current position as vice-dean, graduate education in the Faculty of Arts & Science. He will be taking over from Professor Locke Rowe.

“As outgoing vice-dean of graduate studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science, Joshua brings a great depth of experience and understanding to this important role,” said Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr. “The School of Graduate Studies provides crucial professional and personal opportunities for our graduate students. 

“I’m looking forward to Joshua’s leadership in supporting our students and helping them flourish.” 

As vice-dean, Barker was known for consulting widely with students and faculty. He developed a student-centric strategy to improve graduate student experience by increasing graduate student funding over three years and establishing the Milestones and Pathways Program, which provides support for discipline-specific graduate student professional development.

Barker said he sees SGS as having three main functions: acting as a service provider for grad students, a resource for key information for all graduate activities at the university, and an innovation hub for graduate student experiences.

“U of T is a large place and although there are a lot of activities graduate students can get involved with, it can be challenging to find one’s way,” said Barker. “The School of Graduate Studies plays an important role in helping our students to thrive. I’m extremely excited to take on this new role.” 

Barker said it will be important to involve students in developing and planning new SGS initiatives.

“I always begin any new graduate initiative by really looking at student experiences and listening to students’ concerns, pain points, and aspirations,” he said. “I’d like to continue to work closely with the Graduate Students’ Union so that together we can develop approaches that better serve our students.”

Barker has an extensive research background in urban anthropology, science and technology studies, and political anthropology. His research focuses primarily on Indonesia, where he has conducted ethnographic field research on a range of groups, including: the police and civilian guards, information technology engineers and entrepreneurs, and city-level journalists. 

“I’m looking forward to working with the vice-president of research and innovation, Vivek Goel, who has been developing an analysis of U of T’s place within the broader research and innovation ecosystem,” he said. “I’m really interested in understanding the role graduate student researchers will play in this ecosystem, and how we can create more linkages between our students and those outside the university who have needs for research talent.”

As for advice on the new role, Barker said dean Rowe has been a valued resource. 

“Locke has been tremendously helpful in informing me about how SGS works and the various challenges we face in graduate education more broadly,” said Barker. “He has done a fantastic job of establishing SGS as a hub for innovation and has offered pointers on how I can continue to develop this.”