The Honors School welcomed Jennifer Ross as the program’s new Assistant Dean on Wednesday, Dec. 7, joining the administrative team of Nancy Mezey, Ph.D., Dean of the Honors School, and Doris Meyer, Assistant to the Dean.
“We are excited to have Dean Ross join the Honors School team. She brings holistic support advocating for students and supporting them as they navigate the many resources available to them,” said Meyer, who expressed excitement about Ross’s ability to contribute to the school’s high standard of honors education.
“Dean Ross comes with a lot of experience and a comfort level working with students. She was an obvious choice for this job,” said Mezey, citing Ross’s four year career at Union County College where she served as an advisor and administrator for the school’s honors program.
“I ended up here because I was looking to get a bit more program oversight and to move up. I ultimately wanted to be at a four year institution at a good, small college,” explained Ross, who pioneered a lot of her organizational and advising work at Union. “I know what practices worked well with those students, so hopefully it translates well with these students at Monmouth. I’m really hoping to do a lot of what I did with my prior school, just on a larger scale and over the course of four years instead of just the two.”
As the Assistant Dean of the Honors School, Ross is tasked with advising students around honors education and keeping track of their progress to ensure that they are on track for the program.
“One of the things that happened during the pandemic is that someone in a previous director’s position, Reenie Menditto, retired, and she was the person who kept track of our students’ progress and made sure that they were on track. When the pandemic hit, we had a series of tragedies in the Honors School and at a time where our honors students needed us the most, we were not able to provide,” explained Mezey.
Despite efforts to get back on track with the help of assistants, part-time roles, and temporary faculty, Mezey still felt that the Honors School was coming up short. “At the end of the day, I feel very strongly that we did not keep track of students the way we needed to, and I felt bad about that,” she said.
Now, with the addition of Dean Ross to the Honors School’s administrative team, Mezey hopes to increase the program’s retention rate and give students the tools they need to act as “beacon[s] of academic excellence.”
“The purpose of the Honors School is really to support our high-achieving, high-ability, highly motivated students in a way that gives them a living, learning community where they can have experiences both in and out of the classroom with other students who really want to focus on their academics in different ways than the average Monmouth student might,” described Mezey. “They take that community that they’ve built with each other and put it into other areas around the University. When you see some of the student leaders around campus, it’s not surprising to see that many of them are Honors Students.”
“I am looking forward to Dean Ross bringing fresh ideas to the table for how to improve the Honors program, whether it be through the curriculum or the events we hold,” said Mary Schuld, junior English and elementary education student. “Being a part of the Honors School provides me with the opportunity to meet students from various disciplines, engage in thought provoking discussions, and take a deep dive into research areas that I am passionate about.”
“I thrive on the energy in our office and love being a part of such a close-knit community. Our office is an inviting space for students to make connections with the Honors School administration as well as their peers. Every day you will find students, including non-honors students, in the office to connect, socialize, or just relax. The camaraderie and vibrant culture make the Honors School a special place to work,” described Meyer, adding that Dean Ross has already made her presence in the program known by establishing record-keeping processes, outreach efforts, and suggestions on honors courses and degree plans.
“I have had the pleasure of already working with Dean Ross, since I am a student worker in the Honors office, and I am confident that she is already an invaluable member of the team. She brings a warmth and compassionate nature to the office each day and continues to contribute to creating the best honors program possible. She may have just started working here, but she has already created a positive impact on me, and I know that will spread to the rest of the Honors community,” said Schuld.