Former grad school dean

Nichol Nelson

Former Graduate School dean Mark Brenner was given a major national honor for his 29 years of University service on the eve of his departure from the school.
Brenner begins a new position as vice chancellor for research and graduate education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis this week. University President Mark Yudof replaced Brenner last year after instigating a national search that resulted in the hire of Christine Maziar as Graduate School dean.
The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students awarded Brenner the Friend of Graduate/Professional Students award on Thursday. The award is given annually to an administrator or faculty member for outstanding contributions to graduate students.
Graduate students at the University nominated Brenner for the award, writing in a nomination letter, “We are sorry to see him go.”
Bryan Hennegan, president of the national graduate organization, said the past two winners were Washington leaders working on macro-education issues. Brenner was chosen for the award because of his contributions on the campus level, he said.
“Brenner had a great amount of impact as an adviser and administrator for student leaders,” Hennegan said.
Brenner had a major influence on the Graduate School during his term. He created the nation’s largest graduate student mentorship program and successfully kept the school from decentralizing in 1995.
“I was told I better defend the existence of the Graduate School,” Brenner said. “I know I was very successful in communicating the value of the school.”
In 1997, Yudof began a nationwide search for a new dean of the Graduate School. Brenner reapplied for the position, and although he was one of the final four candidates for the job, Christine Maziar was eventually selected.
Brenner said Thursday the decision to search for a new dean was “clearly the right of the president.”
Last year during the search, Yudof told The Minnesota Daily that although he thought highly of Brenner, it was important to choose the person most compatible to the president.
“You need to find the right person to get your agenda done,” Yudof said in October 1997.
Maziar had a close-working relationship with Yudof while both were at the University of Texas-Austin.
Maziar said Brenner was extremely helpful in her transition to the University.
“Although I only had a brief opportunity to work with Mark Brenner, I quickly grew to appreciate and admire his deep affection for the University and his commitment to its students and faculty,” she said.
Brenner said he is excited about heading the research grants office in Indiana. He plans to promote inter-disciplinary programs and lead the urban campus to serve the needs of the community at large.
“I want to understand the community and ensure a quality student experience,” he said.