The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences announces the retirement of Brenda Gaughan, program manager in the Office of Academic Affairs. Brenda has worked for the Graduate School and UTHealth for more than 36 years. Her last day will be in December and a virtual event celebrating her tenure will be announced soon.
Brenda started her career at UTHealth in 1974 as the secretary to the GSBS registrar Mary Archer. During that time, the school was under the leadership of Alfred G. Knudson, Jr., MD, PhD, and the school's administrative offices were located in the parking garage of the Hermann Professional Building. From 1974 to 1995, Brenda's responsibilities at the Graduate School encompassed admissions, academic standards, curriculum, student affairs, registration, and alumni - but her priority was always the "care and feeding" of graduate students, as she puts it.
In 1996, Brenda moved to Connecticut, but returned to Texas and the GSBS in 2005 to work in faculty affairs with then-Dean George M. Stancel, PhD. She administered faculty membership, program reviews, and the committees for the program directors, faculty executive, and faculty membership.
In 2012, the year that Michelle C. Barton, PhD, and Michael R. Blackburn, PhD, took the helm of the school, Brenda was tapped to work directly with graduate students again in the Office of Academic Affairs under the leadership of Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Education Bill Mattox, PhD, and still holds that position today.
In this role, Brenda advises PhD students, including guiding first-year PhD students as they conduct rotations and choose advisors; and co-organizes many annual events such as the GSBS Student Research Day, Lab Coat Ceremony, and commencement exercises. She also serves as the administrator for PhD program reviews, and the program directors committee.
"It has been so wonderful to work with Brenda," said Dean Blackburn. "Her dedication and commitment to students and faculty is contagious and raises us all up. She has helped to shape this school into the quality institution that it is and we will miss her tremendously; especially her great sense of humor and deep compassion for others."
"For longer than I can remember Brenda has been the true heart of the GSBS," said Senior Associate Dean Mattox. "She's at the center of what we do and personally cares about each student's happiness and success from the first moment they walk in the door."
When asked about her time at the Graduate School, Brenda said, "The GSBS and I grew up together - the school was 11 and I was 20 when I came to work here. I didn't plan to stay for long but I'm so glad I did. I'm the luckiest person in the world to have worked at the GSBS all these years. Our students and faculty are the best in all ways, and the funny, amazing staff is truly like a family. When someone asks me what I do, I'm always so proud to tell them about the GSBS. I cannot lie: I'm beyond excited and grateful to make it out alive, but I know that I will miss this wonderful place and love it for the rest of my days."