Biographical sketches of candidates for President-elect and the Executive Committee.


Kim LaScola Needy is Dean of the Graduate School and International Education at the University of Arkansas. Prior to this appointment she was Department Head and 21st Century Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Arkansas. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Wichita State University. Prior to her academic appointment, she gained industrial experience while working at PPG Industries and The Boeing Company. Her first faculty appointment was at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Needy is a Past President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (Fellow member), as well as holding membership in the American Society for Engineering Education (Fellow member), American Society for Engineering Management (Fellow member, Certified Professional Engineering Manager and with service on the board of directors for 14 years including as the President), American Production and Inventory Control Society (Certified at the Fellow Level in Production and Inventory Management) and Society of Women Engineers. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in Kansas. Dr. Needy served on the Conference of Southern Graduate School’s (CSGS) Faculty Awards Committee (2015-2017, Chair in 2016). She currently serves on the CSGS Executive Committee (2016-2019) and is the host committee co-chair for the CSGS 2018 conference. She serves on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for the Graduate Record Examination (2017-2020).


Ruth Bahr is the Associate Dean for the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of South Florida. She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia, her M.A. from Auburn University and her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Her academic career began at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst before moving to the University of South Carolina, Columbia and coming to the University of South Florida in 1995, where she became a Full Professor in 2009. At each of these universities, she was primarily responsible for teaching graduate students in a professional training program. She has been actively involved with mentoring graduate students in their research, completing 48 theses/dissertations and has served on the admissions committees and as the graduate program director for 16 years. Other service activities have included membership on the College Curriculum and Tenure and Promotion Committees and as the Chair of the Policy Committee for the Graduate Council. Currently, her administrative duties include oversight of policy and curriculum development, processing of petitions, handling grievances, maintenance of the graduate catalog, thesis/dissertation processing and membership on numerous University committees focusing on student success, conduct, mental health, program development, and automated systems.

Abhijit Bhattacharyya began his academic career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada in 1997. Since January 2002, he has been a faculty member at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, coordinator of the Applied Science graduate program (2006-2010), Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology from 2011 to June 2016 (except during Spring 2015 when he served as Associate Dean). Since July 1, 2016, he has been serving as the Interim Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate School. Since the beginning of his career, he has been involved in graduate education and has graduated seven PhD students and five MS students. His research is in the area of smart materials and thin films. He has been funded by the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA and NSF. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) recently recognized Dr. Bhattacharyya’s significant contributions to the mechanical engineering community when he was elected Fellow of ASME. He received his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Rutgers University, New Jersey.

Karen S. Coats, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School and professor of biology at The University of Southern Mississippi since August 2014, holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in microbiology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Ph.D. in Virology from Louisiana State University. Following postdoctoral training at Tulane Primate Research Center, she began her academic career as assistant professor of microbiology at Mississippi State University in 1990 where she established an externally-funded research program, taught microbiology courses, and mentored undergraduate and graduate microbiology students. Named associate dean of the Graduate School at MSU in 2011, she fostered graduate student professional development, including financial literacy, Three Minute Thesis, and Preparing Future Faculty. At Southern Miss she prioritizes high standards, recruitment, student success, and appreciation for diversity. Graduate professional development programs such as Professionals in Preparation and Three Minute Thesis enhance transferable skills; Graduate Competitive Travel Awards support professional conference travel; the Graduate Student Hall of Fame portrait gallery showcases outstanding students in their research/creative setting; the McNair Scholars Program prepares under-served undergraduate students for graduate school; and mentorship workshops strengthen faculty mentorship skills. Committed to becoming a better advocate for graduate education broadly, Coats participates in the CGS Advocacy Ambassador Network.

Desi S. Hacker received a B.A. in psychology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. She currently serves as Assistant Dean in the School of Graduate Studies and Research at Norfolk State University. In this role, she assists in policy development and implementation of graduate education, serves as co-chair of the Graduate Council and as chair of the Curriculum Subcommittee, and oversees the graduate admissions process for the Office of Graduate Studies. She also serves as the Associate Director of Clinical Training for the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology, a joint Ph.D. program with Old Dominion University and Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA. In this role, she works with the appointed Directors of the other institutions to administratively manage the program which includes ensuring compliance with its accrediting body, assisting in assessment and evaluation of the program, and advising and mentoring students. Additionally, she oversees the clinical placement of students in several agencies throughout the Hampton Roads community. She has been involved in graduate education and training for over 25 years and is committed to students and professionals in all disciplines.

Jeannine Rajewski Perry has served as Dean of Longwood University’s College of Graduate & Professional Studies since 2011.  In that role she worked with CGS to conduct a graduate college review as part of an internal, ongoing Graduate Studies Task Force designed to support the growth and sustainability of graduate programs at the university.  She has also developed new professional studies initiatives to bring live and revenue back to continuing and professional education through Longwood. Jeannine came to Longwood as faculty in the Department of Education and Special Education in the fall of 2003.  In the fall of 2004, she became the Graduate Program Coordinator for the Literacy and Culture program.  In 2009 Dr. Perry served part-time as an assistant dean in the College of Graduate and Professional Studies.   She has 15 year’s public school teaching experience, mostly at the elementary level, in the Shaker Heights City School district in northeast Ohio.  She has also taught university level courses and continuing education workshops for nearly thirty years.  Jeannine earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction: Reading & Language Arts from Kent State University and her Master of Science in English at and the same institution. Her Bachelor of Arts from Hiram College includes a major in English (with secondary teaching endorsement), a minor in Writing and a minor in Business Management. Jeannine has published in several professional journals on literacy education, presented on numerous literacy topics regionally and nationally, and has been active in several professional organizations.  Her areas of interest are program design and development for adult learners, nonfiction and content area literacy, comprehension instruction, writing instruction, and educational leadership.  She is currently ‘grand convener’ of the Virginia Council of Graduate Schools.

Troy M. Terry received his Ph.D. from Clemson University. He is the Executive Director of Graduate and Evening Studies in the Herring Center for Continuing, Graduate, and Professional Education at Furman University in Greenville, SC. Dr. Terry oversees all of the Graduate programs as well as the Undergraduate Evening Studies programs for non-traditional, adult learners.  He also serves as a professor of School Leadership in the Education Department. Currently, he is a co-principal investigator in the Project-based Learning initiative with Furman’s Riley Institute for Educational Policy and the SC Department of Education. Dr. Terry is a literacy and service-learning advocate and has authored or edited three publications on curriculum integration: ARISE – Integrating Service Learning into the Curriculum 9-12; ARISE: Service Learning at the Middle Level; and REACH: Integrating the Collaborative Humanities, and is currently working on a text on project-based learning. His continued research interests include Public School Administration and the Law, Project-Based Learning, and Literacy. Dr. Terry has served CSGS since 2006 as a member and former chair of the Membership Committee, as a member of the nominating committee, and as a member of the executive committee. He was also the special liaison to the Chair for the 2013 annual conference meeting in Greenville, SC.  He currently serves CGS as a member of the Master’s Degree Committee. He is one of the eight founding members of the SC Graduate Deans Association.