New deans hope to strengthen Rider

By Charles Cartagena

Area colleges’ losses are now Rider’s gains. The new dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Education and Sciences (CLAES), Dr. Patricia Mosto, comes from Rowan; her counterpart, Dr. Sharon J. Sherman, the new dean of the School of Education, comes from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). In addition, Dr. Jonathan Millen, continues to serve as chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism and was appointed the new assistant dean of Liberal Arts.

At Rowan, Mosto acted not only in an educational capacity teaching biology, but also in an administrative role, as associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Mosto admits she was not shopping around for a new home.

“I was not looking for the job when I was approached to interview for the position,” she said. “I admit I had wanted to be a dean for a long time. And there was just something attractive about Rider that was hard to put a finger on at the time.”

Mosto explained that the intangible quality that attracted her to the university was its strong belief in community.

“There was something more than just a position, there was a force drawing me to Rider,” she said.

That force was a sense of home and belonging on which Rider’s administration centers its academic philosophy, she said.

Mosto brings the concept of interdisciplinary governing to Rider from her time at Rowan. She wishes to strengthen the CLAES by instilling conversation and cooperation across departments, gathering different disciplines of study and knowledge to create a strong framework. Since starting July 1, Mosto has established a College Assembly, the goal of which is to introduce a strategic plan for the college.

“This plan will parallel the University Strategic Plan while serving to provide action plans to move forward,” she said.

Forward progress is something very important to the new dean. To make sure everyone is on the same page, Mosto has also set up monthly chair meetings among departments, a soon-to-be-established college newsletter and various fund-raising endeavors to strengthen the university’s presence and identity within the university culture. Mosto described a team mentality in which Sherman, herself, and her two assistant deans, Dr. Jonathan Yavelow and the newly appointed Millen, act as a cohesive group toward the same ultimate goal. The department heads and the faculty create another tier of this team framework. Mosto is also implementing professional development for the college faculty, seeking funds for conferences and training.

In her endeavors to strengthen the college’s identity, Mosto has an asset in Millen, whom she described as a man with “tremendous leadership potential.” Millen has been a part of the Rider community since 1991 and is currently setting up an advisory board for the College of Liberal Arts, as well as taking an active role in lifting the stature of the liberal arts program. A new emphasis on what employers want from liberal arts graduates is being accessed by the college’s administration, as well as new efforts in admissions to showcase what a liberal arts degree from Rider University can offer students. Millen also spoke of empowering department chairs, giving them a voice in decision making.

Millen oversees all the departments in liberal arts, and has been Chair of the Department of Communication and Journalism for the past five years. His new responsibilities as dean include, but are not limited to, overseeing use and allocation of space for Fine Arts, and being the point person for faculty, as well as working with students. Millen takes on an active role in helping students complete their schedules, and advises them on the development of their majors.

Millen has the utmost faith in liberal arts students, and wants to strengthen the identity of these students and improve recruitment of liberal arts-minded freshmen. He wants current liberal arts majors to know they “could not have chosen a more vibrant and active home for their academic pursuits.”

Forming the education head of this CLAES team is Sherman, the new Dean of Education. Starting one month after her colleague Mosto, Sherman was never very far away from the Rider community, coming from TCNJ. At her previous institution, Sherman was co-founder and director of the Center for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education. Before her stint at TCNJ, Sherman held educational and administrative roles at both Rutgers and Princeton University.

Like Mosto, Sherman was spirited away from her former institution by her experience with the university’s faculty and its community philosophy.

“By the time I finished my 75-minute interview I was sold,” she said. “Having worked in the area for so long, I already knew Rider was a high-quality institution, but this first inside experience impressed me, from the faculty, to the students, to the programs.”

Her first goal as the new dean of education is to preserve the College of Education’s National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation.

“We are the only private college in the state that is accredited by NCATE, and we want to maintain that very high-quality standard,” Sherman said.

The university is up for reaccreditation in 2012, and it is a long, difficult process that the dean is already focusing her energy on.

“To that end, we have developed a conceptual framework, consisting of the guiding principles for our students and our college,” Sherman said.

This framework encompasses the entire staff evaluating its current state and how it has fulfilled its goals since 2003, the last date the conceptual framework was looked at.

“You can think about what has happened in the world from 2003 to 2009,” Sherman said. “A lot has changed in the world, and we as a college must be prepared for that change, for now and [in] the future.”

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