The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday May 20th

Return of former TCNJ president: Kathryn Foster to teach three courses in the fall

<p>(Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator)</p>

(Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator)

By Mike Sherr
Former Editor-in-Chief

Former President Kathryn Foster will soon join the faculty at the College at the end of her year-long sabbatical, returning as a professor of political science and will be teaching two undergraduate classes and one for the Masters of Public Policy program. 

Foster joined the College in 2018 after serving as president of the University of Maine at Farmington. She led the College through the COVID-19 pandemic, helped build the Division of Inclusive Excellence and attempted to get ahead of the coming college enrollment cliff through various initiatives.

In April 2023, Foster surprised the campus community and announced her resignation as president at the end of the academic year, citing her desire to return to a teaching position. 

Foster’s resignation soon raised questions, however, as the benefits provided to her were reflective of a termination without cause rather than a voluntary resignation, per her presidential contract. The full circumstances surrounding her resignation are still unknown. 

“After nearly 40 years in higher education, the last 11 of them as a president, I am motivated to return to the classroom and rejoin the ranks of faculty,” Foster said in her 2023 campus-wide email.  

In the same email, Foster wrote that she would be taking a year sabbatical, after which she would return to join the faculty. Foster received a masters in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in public and international affairs from Princeton University. 

With her sabbatical soon coming to a close, her name can be found on PAWS as a professor for three classes running in the fall. According to PAWS, Foster will be teaching FYS 161: Anatomy of Great Places, POL 316: Politics of Community Change and PUBG 670: Urban Planning and Governance. 

Each of her courses will focus on politics and a sense of place within local and urban communities, something the department has been lacking.

“While political science majors have expressed interest in realms such as community development and urban planning, until this upcoming semester when Dr. Foster begins teaching in the department, we didn’t have the expertise to offer classes in those topics,” Dr. Sarah Chartock, chair of the political science department, told The Signal via email. “We’re happy to have her expertise and enthusiasm.”

Foster declined to comment on her return. 

“I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but I have a feeling the dynamic might be atypical, especially when compared to the other political science courses I’ve taken so far,” said Amelia Laubsch, a junior political science major who is taking Foster’s Politics of Community Change class. “I’m looking forward to the content and the different perspective that I anticipate she will bring to the classroom.”

Presidents returning as faculty members is not a novel idea; former President Harold Eickhoff continued to teach at the College after his resignation. Similarly, Dr. Jeffrey Osborn, the former provost, will be returning to the College after a year-long sabbatical as a professor of biology. 

With years of experience, Foster’s return to a non-administrative position will raise questions about any prospective role in governance at the College. What is certain is the expansion of classes that will be available to students with Foster’s expertise. Future students will benefit from not only an expanded area of study, but with the former president as their professor. 


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