- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 11 November 2015
- Written by CLARE MAURER | STAFF WRITER
Dr. Kenneth Womack, Dean of the Wayne D. Murray School of Humanities and Social Sciences, has been cited as bringing leadership experience and creativity to his new position at Monmouth University.
Provost Laura Moriarty participated in the search to find the new dean, and feels confident in the committee’s decision, saying, “Dr. Womack has a wealth of experience serving in various administrative appointments at Penn State. He is a distinguished scholar and teacher…He is a transformative leader who will move the school forward.”
The former dean, Dr. Stanton Green, was not part of the search for Dean Womack. “My reason for stepping down was personal, and confidential,” Green explained.
Womack’s new position follows a long administrative career, featuring positions like senior associate dean for Academic Affairs and head of the Division of Arts and Humanities at Penn State.
Dean Womack arrives at what he believes is a time of change at the University. “We are sitting at the crux of a key moment of change,” Womack explained, referencing that Monmouth has a recently minted president, a new provost, and two new deans. “There’s a lot of flux right now in the University.”
One thing that will be implemented under Womack is the strategic plan, titled “The Monmouth Plan”. “[Womack] understands the strategic plan and has great ideas about implementing it,” Moriarty believes.
Womack explained, “We have a great strategic plan that highlights learning outcomes, immersive study, life after Monmouth; all of these important initiatives. I think our challenge is to take all of the wonderful aspects that already exist at the University and grow them during this period of change.”
Dr. Nancy Mezey, Associate Dean for the School of Humanities and Social Science, foresees ‘The Monmouth Plan’ being carried out well under Womack’s leadership. “I see us carrying out the strategic plan in meaningful ways. I see Dean Womack supporting the programs that really need to be supported, across the board.”
Mezey has enjoyed her time so far working with Womack, believing that he has wonderful ideas about process, fairness, and equity. “Working with the new dean, it’s been really energizing,” Mezey said. “He delivers challenging news, as well as the good news, with a smile on his face.”
When asked about any changes he would like to make, Womack did not state any plans for implementing changes. But, a challenge that Womack noted was the issue of space. “Monmouth has so many wonderful attributes, but one of the challenges is… dealing with our beautiful space and trying to make the best decisions we can,” he said, after discussing the commuter parking lot and the construction going on.
As a previous English professor and a published fiction writer, Womack brings a fresh creativity into his administrative roll. Womack is the author of the award-winning novel John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel, as well as the author and editor of a few books dedicated to the Beatles, including Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four.
Womack feels his creative background is essential to his position. “For me, it’s important that I maintain my writerly self, that… I continue to try to develop my own reputation which can help the university, but which also can model the importance of scholarship and creative activity,” he said.
When asked if being dean is different than his previous roles, Womack responded with a careful pause. “I don’t want to diminish any job,” Womack said deliberately. “But really administration, if you’re doing it right, is a variation on a similar theme. I try to value all of my leadership experiences, but at a certain point it’s about creating positive change.”
Positive change is somethng Womack has already brought to the table, with faculty excited to work with him and learn from him.
“I am just overwhelmed by how talented and brilliant our faculty are,” Womack said with a smile. “I’m absolutely committed to telling their story as far and widely as possible….That’s my mission right there. If we’re telling that story, we’re serving Monmouth well and our students well.”
PHOTO TAKEN by Clare Maurer