By Nicholas Steinhauser
This academic year, all of the deans in the College’s academic departments are women, a major advancement for the College’s promotion of diversity that signifies a new era for academic growth.
The deans for this year consist of Dr. Lorna Johnson Frizell of (interim) Arts and Communication, Dr. Andrea Welker of Engineering, Dr. Carole Kenner of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. Sunita Gupta Kramer of Science, Dr. Suzanne McCotter of Education (Dr. Tabitha Dell'Angelo as Interim Dean for Spring 2023), Dr. Kathryn Jervis of Business and Dr. Jane Wong of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The Signal conducted interviews with six of the seven deans regarding this milestone and their plans for the upcoming semester.
How do you feel about being a Dean here at the College?
Welker: I love being here at TCNJ. This place is a great place to be. The size is great, as it is small enough for close connections, but also large enough to the point where it does not feel condensed. Lots of people care deeply for the school and are a joy to work with.
Kenner: I like it here! There are a lot of opportunities to be creative, and all of us deans work well together.
Kramer: I feel like there’s a really nice community here. Students and other faculty constantly say hello to me, and this environment is very welcoming. Everyone around me wants to help me succeed.
McCotter: Being a dean is an extremely fresh experience because no two days are ever the same. One day we may testify to the state legislature about teacher shortage, and another we may be having important conferences with teachers or other departments. I always have something to do.
Jervis: I like working with the other deans here, as we work quite well together. I also enjoy collaborating with the faculty. The staff here is wonderful, and I see the students all the time.
Wong: The students are great with good internships, present presentations well, are interested in learning, and the faculty try their best — especially during the Covid experience.
What are your thoughts on the fact that all of the College’s deans this year are women?
Welker: Everyone here is super collaborative, and events like the council of deans meetings are great for us to get together and talk about business. We are also very friendly with each other, which helps us work well together.
Kenner: We work well together and bring a different voice to the TCNJ community. It is great to have women deans in positions that do not normally have women deans, like Engineering and Business.
Kramer: It is very exciting and not something that I see often. It is great that nobody feels like the odd one out, and it provides a more comforting community. It has been amazing working with them. Everyone in that group wants to help me succeed, and I want the same for them. We were also all on a women’s leadership panel on Nov. 29, which helped us to connect and learn more about effectively leading the school.
McCotter: I’m happy to be a part of it. This reminds me of the time when Ruth Bater Ginsberg was asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court, and she replied, “when there are nine.” I love being a trailblazer for young women. The council of deans has also always been one of the best parts of the job for me, as it is a very supportive, collegial and collaborative group.
Jervis: I am honored to be a part of this fabulous group. We take care of one another and get to manage the school as a team. We also participated in a Women’s Professional Network, where we were asked to come and speak to women about effective management and leadership.
Wong: I couldn’t have imagined this happening when I first graduated college. In society, women have come a long way in the workforce, and the inequality of opportunities in other countries makes me and the other deans want to work harder. We are a really great bunch of women who work well together.
What is your favorite part about working at the College?
Welker: The people are just great. The colleagues are great to work with, and I love working with the student leaders and senators. I enjoy trying to use these student organizations to the best of my ability as a way to learn about the student body.
Kenner: The collaborative and colloquial atmosphere is my favorite part about the school, as I am always working closely with someone.
Kramer: The people. I thought it was going to be really hard to start fresh at a new school, but it took a lot less time than I expected to make this place feel at home. The potential of TCNJ is another aspect that is not discussed enough, and I really want to make this school more recognized throughout the country.
McCotter: The community is my favorite part here. The colleagues I have are outstanding, and as soon as I got here, it felt like I was a part of TCNJ. I also love interacting with students and enjoy every time I get to work with them.
Jervis: The people and the relationships are amazing, as my leadership position as the dean is mainly about relationships with colleagues and students.
Wong: I personally love my department’s Fall Academic Achievement Awards and Commencements, where I get to celebrate my students’ achievements and work with the student senators.
What are your plans going forward for your academic department?
Welker: I plan on taking a harder look at my department’s curriculum and what should be changed. I also want to alter the mission’s statement into something more engaging. In terms of programs, I am hoping to launch a master’s program in civil engineering and a robotics concentration in engineering.
Kenner: We just changed our department’s name to Kinesiology and Health Sciences to emphasize our strength in science. For the future, I plan on strengthening our programs, such as the 4+1, graduate, and certificate programs.
Kramer: TCNJ is not as well recognized outside the East coast, yet we have amazing facilities and great faculty. Not enough people know about this school, and one of my main goals is to be a liaison to the outside world. I wish to make more people interested in the school. Apart from that, I also want to create more partnerships with graduate schools and more direct relationships with other institutions.
McCotter: This January, I am going to start a new position as the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education. Dr. Tabitha Dell'Angelo will step in as my interim dean. I am very excited for this new opportunity and am ready to take on new challenges and things, such as working closer with all graduate programs.
Jervis: We are working on graduate programs for a bunch of majors in management and accounting. We are also planning a collaboration with the Nursing and Health Sciences Department.
Wong: We recently got approval to offer the Masters in Public Policy Program. I am working hard at recruiting this program’s first class to come in next fall. Besides that, I hope to launch new undergraduate Environmental Studies majors in the near future.