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Graduate College Deans


Wojtek chodzko-zajko

ojtek-Chodzko-ZajkoWojtek Chodzko Zajko is the Shahid and Ann Carlson Khan Endowed Professor of Applied Health Sciences and 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 on the Executive Committee of the AAU Association of Graduate Schools and on the Board of Directors of the GRE. 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. 


Executive Associate Dean

John C. Hart

John C. Hart is a professor in the Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering, where he studies computer graphics. His work on computer graphics over the past 25 years has been supported by Adobe, AT&T, DARPA, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Nokia, NVIDIA and the NSF. He has also worked with graphics hardware manufacturers, defense contractors, visual effects studios, game developers and a medical imaging startup. He is the graphics area editor for ACM Books, a past Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Graphics, a past member of the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee, a co-author of “Real-Time Shading,” a contributing author to “Texturing and Modeling: A Procedural Approach,” and an executive producer of the documentary “The Story of Computer Graphics.”

Prof. Hart is the designer and Director of the Master of Computer Science in Data Science (MCS-DS) program, which delivers a professional masters degree in computer science specializing in data science using the Coursera MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) platform. This scalable online platform allows the University of Illinois to better fulfill its land-grant public educational mission by offering an affordable masters degree education (total tuition is under $20,000) to a broader student body through the Coursera MOOC platform, in one of the highest demand job sectors of the past decade.

Prof. Hart has also contributed to the oversight of campus IT infrastructure through various committees including chairing the Senate IT Committee and the campus Stewarding Excellence Committee on IT. He has also served in the Computer Science department as Director of Graduate Studies and Area Chair of HCI, Graphics and Visualization, and for the College of Engineering as Chair of its Promotion and Tenure Committee and Vice-Chair (Dean is Chair) of its Executive Committee. He was also a Fellow of the 2017 Big 10 Academic Leadership Program.

Areas within the Graduate College:

  • Academic Programs and Policies
  • Illinois Professional Science Masters (PSM)
  • Graduate College representative on the Senate Education Policy Committee
  • Graduate College Operations


Assistant Deans

Elizabeth (Beth) Spark

Elizabeth SparkElizabeth Spark is the Assistant Dean for Admissions, Registration, and Enrollment Services. In this role, she oversees domestic and international graduate admissions, the issuance of visa eligibility documents to all incoming and returning graduate students, enrollment management reporting, and registration services. She is responsible for researching international higher education trends, staying informed of federal regulations that govern international student visa policies, and collaborating with our peer institutions to determine best practices for admissions policies and procedures. She is committed to providing guidance and training to graduate department contacts and faculty regarding recruitment, admissions, and registration policies. Her unit also assists students requesting exceptions to registration policies, changing academic program, and returning to the Graduate College after a leave of absence. She represents the Graduate College at annual recruiting events and serves on a number of campus committees regarding student data management.  
At Illinois, Spark completed her B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Organizational Administration in 2003, her Ed.M. degree in Education, Organization, and Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Administration in 2008, and her Ph.D. in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with a concentration in Global Studies in Education in 2017. She began her career as the Assistant to the Director for the Graduate and Professional Admissions and Academic Support Unit in the Office of the Registrar in 2004, and assisted with the transition of the unit to the Graduate College in 2005. Since joining the Graduate College, she has served as the Assistant Director and the Director of the Graduate and Professional Admissions unit. 

Alexis Thompson

Alexis Thompson is Assistant 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.