Skip to main content

Graduate College Deans


Wojtek chodzko-zajko

ojtek-Chodzko-ZajkoWojtek Chodzko Zajko (he/him) is the Dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois.

In his role as Dean of the Graduate College, Chodzko-Zajko leads campus efforts in setting policies, defining standards, and enabling excellence in graduate programs, graduate research, and graduate student life. With graduate programs in more than 100 disciplinary areas, the Graduate College at the University of Illinois fosters a vibrant campus community of scholars. Graduate students and faculty at Illinois enjoy an intellectual environment that reaches across the Arts, Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Engineering to create, challenge, and transform knowledge.

In his professional life, Chodzko Zajko remains active in the dissemination of information about healthy aging through his work on several major professional advisory boards.  He served on the World Health Organization committee that developed the WHO Guidelines for Physical Activity among Older Persons. Chodzko-Zajko was the Principal Investigator for a series of projects charged with developing a national strategy for promoting healthy aging in the USA. He currently serves as chair of the Executive Committee of the AAU Association of Graduate Schools and is chair of the ETS Graduate Education Advisory Council. Chodzko-Zajko was the founding Editor of the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity from 1992-2002. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Exercise and is a Past-President of the American Kinesiology Association. Prior to assuming his current position, Chodzko-Zajko served for many years as the head of the department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Associate Dean

Zeynep Madak-Erdogan

Zeynep Madak-ErdoganZeynep Madak-Erdogan (she, her) is a Sylvia D. Stroup Scholar of Cancer and Nutrition and an associate professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, whose research and career have focused on improving the quality of life and outcomes for cancer patients. Director of the Women’s Health and Metabolism Laboratory, her research combines the study of endocrinology and metabolism with molecular and cellular biology to understand how health and nutrition impact the cause, progression, and treatment of breast cancer. Since joining the University of Illinois, she has directed her research efforts on health disparities in cancer and other diseases.

During her career, she has mentored both undergraduate and graduate students, and participated in several graduate training programs designed to introduce students and postdoctoral researchers to cancer research careers. A former member of the Graduate College Executive Committee, she joined the Graduate College as a Faculty Fellow in Fall 2022 to serve as part of the dean’s leadership team and to advise the dean broadly on topics related to graduate education.

As associate dean, Madak-Erdogan will continue to collaborate with the Graduate College on projects related to graduate student success and resilience. Further, her portfolio will include initiatives to support best practices and resources for mentoring.


Alexis Thompson

Alexis Thompson (she/her) is Associate Dean for Graduate Student Success. In this role, she oversees the Graduate College Career Development Office, Thesis Office and Postdoctoral Affairs Office. She assists students and departments with effective problem solving. She is committed to providing resources and support to help graduate students and postdocs excel in their current roles and throughout their careers. She also plays an active role in many Graduate College events, including the annual mentoring workshop for faculty, the Graduate College Symposium and Commencement. She is currently serving as president of the Graduate Career Consortium, a national organization of people providing career and professional development for doctoral and postdoctoral scholars.

Thompson completed bachelor of science degrees in Chemistry and Physics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She joined the Graduate College in 2008 and previously served as the Assistant Director of Career Development and the Director of the Postdoctoral Affairs Office.


Assistant Deans

Lisa abston

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Derek Attig

Career and Professional Development

Charlotte Bauer

Communications and Strategic Planning

Allison McKinney

Academic Affairs

Catherine Ocen

Administration and Budget

Elizabeth Spark

Admissions and Enrollment