Her sense of equity and fairness — this is a quality that immediately comes to mind when former students and colleagues alike are asked what Susan Cozzens’ greatest contribution to Georgia Tech has been.
“My favorite characteristic of Susan’s is her commitment to fairness,” says Kamau Bobb, a former Ph.D. student who worked with Cozzens and is now a program officer for the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation. “She has been able, across a long career, to keep fairness at the center not just of her person, but at the center of her research agenda. Her research portfolio is not pursuing knowledge for knowledge sake, but in the service of fairness.”
After 19 years of service to Tech, Cozzens, vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development (VPGEFD), will retire on June 30. She has been awarded Professor Emerita of Public Policy.
“I’m really looking forward to going back to just research and writing,” Cozzens said. “My field is innovation studies, and it seems like a good moment to focus in on studying how innovation in affluent economies can produce good jobs for individuals.”
Cozzens started her career at Tech as chair of Public Policy, which she points out is “the best science and technology policy program in the country.” In 2012, Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, selected Cozzens to be Tech’s first VPGEFD.
“Susan was a proven advocate and steady voice for faculty and graduate students long before she became the vice provost,” Bras said. “As a long-time member of the faculty and doctoral student advisor, she understood their unique concerns and saw the great potential for growth in graduate education. She has also always been steadfast in her commitment to fairness and diversity. Those qualities made her the best fit for the vice provost role — and she has done a phenomenal job.”
Leslie N. Sharp, associate vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development, first crossed paths with Cozzens in 1999, when she was a doctoral student.
“I don’t think I could have asked for a better mentor to work with over the last several years,” Sharp said. “I have so many memories of Susan going out of her way to stand up for what’s right and fair. She constantly inspires me to be the same way in my own life.”
Paul Goldbart, dean of the College of Sciences, has always appreciated Cozzens’ commitment to both faculty and and graduate students, and her recognition that postdocs are more likely to thrive in a community of peers.
“I’ve also benefited from her encouragement,” he said. “She has heard many of my attempts to explain — using everyday language — the marvelous research accomplishments of our scientists and mathematicians. She has often told me how much she appreciates these vignettes, and I thank her for that!”
When it comes to what Cozzens has enjoyed most during her time at Tech, she mentions the leadership teams she’s been part of, working with two deans, Bras, and President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, and having an impact on graduate students.
“My favorite memories are of putting all of the hoods on my Ph.D. students,” she said. “I love the hooding ceremony so much.”
By the end of the year, Cozzens and her husband plan to relocate to the Seattle area to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law, and four grandchildren.
“I’m going to miss everyone on campus very much,” Cozzens said. “So, please friend me on Facebook, so we can share updates — especially since I’ll finally have time to share my own after June 30.”