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PYSK: George Justice

George Justice

Title and company/organization

Vice provost for advanced studies and dean of the Graduate School, University of Missouri



I work to enhance graduate education for MU’s 6,500 master’s, educational specialist and Ph.D. students and for the graduate faculty across the institution who mentor those students.Job description

Years lived in Columbia


Original hometown



B.A., English, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn.; M.A., English, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Community involvement

Active parent at Grant Elementary School, Heart of Missouri United Way

Professional background

I worked at Harper & Row Publishers before and during graduate school, then taught at Marquette University and Louisiana State University before coming to MU. After directing the graduate programs in English at MU, I came to work in the Graduate School (2006) and became dean in 2010 after a national search.

A favorite recent project

I have two: first, editing the Norton Critical Edition of Jane Austen’s great novel Emma; and second, co-PI and part of the leadership team of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, an NSF-sponsored initiative designed to prepare our graduate students to be great science teachers during their long careers as professors. The goal is that future undergraduate students will become science majors and help the country and the economy thrive. CIRTL is a 25-university network made up of some of the best universities nationally. I’m helping to lead an online curriculum offered by all 25 universities for their Ph.D. students to learn the skills they will need to become great professors in the future.

A Columbia businessperson I admire and why

Scott Southwick, owner of Sparky’s Ice Cream. Scott has found a great niche and has carved out a national reputation for the taste of his ice cream and the décor of his shop. Sparky’s is a great place to take my kids to reward them for a job well done.

Why I’m passionate about my job

There can be nothing more important in life than helping people fulfill their intellectual and professional potential, and my job allows me to do this at the 40,000-foot level of concepts as well as the ground level of individual students, who bring such energy, passion and brilliance to their work at the university.

If I weren’t doing this for a living, I would

Biggest career obstacle I’ve overcome and howBe teaching Jane Austen in college or high school English classes.

Much of the money and prestige in graduate education is (rightly) in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. As an English professor, earning the trust of scientists was necessary for me to be effective in my position. This has involved a lot of listening, mutual exchange and hard work on my part, but I believe I have succeeded.

What people should know about this profession

The university is an incredibly complex place made up of brilliant people who have a diversity of points of view but who largely believe their own point of view is the right one. Negotiating among the complex intellectual and financial aspects of the university to serve students is difficult, but it’s what we are all committed to, even when we disagree on particulars.

What I do for fun

I hang out with my family, go for long walks, play the piano, read Jane Austen and cheer for the MU Tigers and the CoMo Derby Dames. (My wife has skated for the local roller derby team under the pseudonym Stone Cold Jane Austen.)


Wife, Devoney Looser, Catherine Paine Middlebush professor of English at MU and fellow Jane Austen scholar; and children: Carl, 8, and Lowell, 6, both students at Grant Elementary School.

Favorite place in Columbia

Francis Quadrangle, especially where I can view Jesse Hall through the Columns.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of

Helping many students at MU, both undergraduate and graduate, develop their intellects, graduate from the university and excel in many different walks of life.

Most people don’t know that I

Live and die with the Philadelphia Phillies. During the course of my life, it has mostly been “die,” though there have been a few great years.

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