When Andrea Welker was named dean of The College of New Jersey School of Engineering this summer, she came with the perfect resume: Ph.D. from the University of Texas in civil engineering, two decades of leadership at Villanova University, where she most recently served as an associate dean and helped start a diversity, equity & inclusion committee — and she was a New Jersey native.
That she also was a woman wasn’t a huge variable in the process. But it did follow a trend at the school. With her hire — and the hiring of Sunita Gupta Kramer for the School of Science just a few weeks before — all seven academic deans at TCNJ are now women.
TCNJ President Kathryn Foster explained the process.
“We had five women deans already in their roles with openings for two deans, one for engineering and one for science,” she said. “These fields are less likely to have women in leadership, so we were thrilled that the best people for these key roles turned out to be women.”
It’s a noteworthy factoid in a higher education sector that has been slow to offer leadership opportunities to women and those from underserved communities.
It’s unclear how many — if any — other schools share this distinction. (And it certainly is a good bet to assume there are colleges with all-male deans.) TCNJ is showing that the depth of qualified candidates to be deans is large.
Foster takes pride in the moment; she understands its significance.
“We are thrilled to have achieved this rare distinction in higher education in New Jersey and nationwide,” she said.
“Academic deans support their faculty in shaping the programs and culture of the college experience. These seven accomplished leaders are nationally recognized scholars, educators and experts in their fields. They are also exceptional role models for inclusive excellence and the future of higher education.
“The College of New Jersey gains from their wisdom and contributions and takes immense pride in advancing gender equity in higher education.”
Women are in leadership throughout the campus. Jordan Draper is the dean of students and Amanda DeMartino is the athletic director, among others.
The school has a 57-43 female-male ratio, which is slightly below the national line — as women make up nearly 60% of all college students.
Here’s a look at the seven deans, listed alphabetically:
Sunita Gupta Kramer
Dean, TCNJ School of Science
Prior to joining TCNJ this summer, Kramer served as a faculty member and administrator at Rutgers University-New Brunswick for almost 20 years, where she created new undergraduate courses and programs designed to cultivate creative and innovative mindsets.
Dean, TCNJ School of Business
Among Jervis’ research interests are hospital and municipal financial reporting and its impact on users’ decisions in the public interest. She has several publications in scholarly accounting and health care journals that include Accounting and the Public Interest and Journal of Health Care Finance.
Interim dean, TCNJ School of Arts and Communication
Johnson‐Frizell joined the college in 2001 as a faculty member within the Radio/Television/Film concentration of her department. She has held leadership positions across the college during her tenure at TCNJ.
Dean, TCNJ School of Nursing and Health Sciences
She specialized in neonatal/perinatal nursing for her master’s and obtained a minor in higher education for her doctorate. She has over 30 years’ experience in teaching, with 20 of those years in higher education administration.
Dean, TCNJ School of Education
She came to the school in 2017. Under her leadership, school initiatives include diversifying the teacher workforce, environmental sustainability education, working with urban middle schools and the establishment of the N.J. Summer Tutoring Corps. During her time in the School of Education, she has brought a renewed focus on data-driven decisions, assessment, and accreditation.
Dean, TCNJ School of Engineering
Welker begins her first year at TCNJ in 2022. She comes to the college from Villanova University, where she began her faculty career in 1999. She most recently served as associate dean for academic affairs for the College of Engineering there.
Dean, TCNJ School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Wong has authored or co-authored over 25 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented or co-presented a similar number of papers at professional conferences. Throughout her career, she has participated actively in service activities as a way to impact, more globally, her institution’s culture and environment.