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Cook named next UGA VP Student Affairs

Michelle Garfield Cook has been named UGA vice president for student affairs. (Photo by Development and Alumni Relations)
Michelle Garfield Cook has been named UGA vice president for student affairs. (Photo by Development and Alumni Relations)

Michelle Garfield Cook, the University of Georgia’s senior vice provost, has been named UGA’s next vice president for student affairs, President Jere W. Morehead announced Monday. Cook is a veteran UGA leader and student advocate who has introduced numerous institution-wide initiatives benefitting students. She will succeed Victor K. Wilson, who is retiring from the university on September 30.

“Dr. Michelle Cook is a widely respected leader on our campus who has played a critical role in enriching our learning environment and making the University of Georgia a pacesetter in student success,” said Morehead. “I could not be more excited about the continued success of our exceptional Division of Student Affairs under her thoughtful and visionary leadership.”

As senior vice provost, Cook plans, guides and implements strategic initiatives and programs spanning the University of Georgia while also leading the Office of Institutional Diversity. She co-chaired the development of the university’s 2025 Strategic Plan and recently chaired the Presidential Task Force on Student Services and Support, which recommended the creation of a one-stop shop for student services at UGA.

“I want to extend my deepest gratitude to President Morehead for this tremendous opportunity to continue serving the University of Georgia’s remarkable students,” said Cook. “Throughout my 25-year career at UGA, I have had the privilege of working with devoted colleagues and friends to help our students maximize their immense potential, and I look forward to continuing this vital work alongside the exceptional team in the Division of Student Affairs.”

Cook began her career at UGA in 1998 and quickly assumed leadership posts devoted to student affairs. From 1999 to 2011, she served as both assistant and associate dean for student affairs in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, where she was responsible for student orientation, academic advising, student academic awards and graduation, among other student services. During her time in the Franklin College, she established the Office of Transfer Student Services—the first of its kind at UGA—to support transfer students transitioning to UGA. She also chaired the Dean’s Student Advisory Board.

From 2001 to 2004, Cook served as the inaugural Franklin Residential College dean, residing in Rutherford Hall and working closely with University Housing to launch UGA’s first residential learning community. In addition, Cook served as an on-site faculty member for the UGA at Oxford Program, where she taught an upper-division history course and served as a faculty advisor to UGA students at Oxford University in England. She has served as a senior faculty fellow with the Morehead Honors College, and since 2006, as a member of the selection team for recipients of UGA’s highest academic scholarship, the Foundation Fellowship.

In 2011, Cook was named associate provost for institutional diversity and the university’s chief diversity officer. In 2017, she was promoted to vice provost, where she assumed responsibility for strategic university initiatives. Cook was elevated to senior vice provost in 2022. Through these positions, Cook has made significant contributions to elevating the recruitment, retention and success of students from underrepresented backgrounds.

In 2016, Cook helped launch the Road Dawgs Program in partnership with the Office of the President and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to expand UGA’s visibility in communities across Georgia. She leads the university’s Affordable Course Materials Grant program, which has saved UGA students over $1.5 million since 2019; the New Approaches to Diversity and Inclusion grant program; and the institution’s efforts to promote development of female leaders across campus.
Cook holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master’s degree from Yale University. She earned her Ph.D. from Duke University. In recognition of her wide-ranging and impactful service to UGA, Cook was selected to deliver the university’s graduate commencement address in fall 2021.

Cook will begin her duties as vice president for student affairs on October 1. Between July 1 and September 30, she and Wilson will work together closely to prepare for a seamless transition in leadership of the division.

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