By Tom Ballard
Future historians, criminologists, philosophers and political scientists here at the College now have a new dean.
In an email from Thursday, Dec. 3, Jacqueline Taylor, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, informed the campus community that Jane Wong will serve as the new dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS).
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Wong to (the College),” the email reads. “She brings a distinguished level of administrative experience, a rich knowledge of the challenges facing higher education in general and the humanities and social sciences in particular.”
Wong is currently the interim dean of the College of Science and Technology, as well as head of the psychology department at Armstrong State University (ASU) in Savannah, Ga., according to the email.
“I have served as Interim Dean (at ASU) twice,” Wong told The Signal. “The two experiences were quite different in terms of the salient demands and issues.”
Wong said that her time at ASU is marked by multiple successes by developing and growing new programs.
“I have facilitated successfully the development and implementation of interdisciplinary programs across the humanities, social sciences and sciences. I have experience with strategic planning, curriculum development and modification, faculty recruitment and retention, student recruitment and success, conflict resolution, facilitating faculty and staff in developing and working toward their aspirations, growing programs (and friendraising),” Wong said.
Wong, who received her Ph.D in clinical psychology from Northern Illinois University, according to her ASU biography, was interested in the position of dean of the School of HSS after learning about the College’s reputation.
“After learning that I had been nominated for the position, I reviewed (the College’s) website and found amazing stories of student success,” Wong said. “The faculty and the institution truly are committed to engaging their students through transformative educational experiences like undergraduate research, study abroad (and) community engagement… The quality of the faculty and the success of the students really attracted me to (the College).”
Once dean, Wong said that she would be interested in creating new opportunities to inform more college-seeking students about the programs that the College offers.
“I would like to create new opportunities for the regional, national (or) international community to interact with, or at least learn about, (the College). More people outside of (New Jersey) should know about how great an institution (the College) is. Similarly, I would also like to create more opportunities to recognize student achievement and success throughout their years at (the College),” Wong said, noting that she would also like to have students feel that they are highly-connected to the programs that the College offers.
“Overall, (I view the current programs in the School of HSS as) excellent in terms of student retention and success and unique educational experiences offered,” Wong said. “I am eager to learn more about the faculty’s, students’ and staff’s assessments of their programs and to work toward their continued development and success.”
According to an article that appeared on TCNJ Today on Thursday, Dec. 3, Wong currently oversees a program at ASU that includes 1,600 students, 90 full-time faculty members, 20 staff members, six academic programs and one interdisciplinary center. She will now oversee the School of HSS, which is home to 2,000 students, 100 faculty members and 14 majors in 10 departments, according to the school’s website.
Wong said that she will work with members of the HSS community in order to accomplish goals and solve problems.
“Effective leadership entails the flexibility to play different roles, depending on the context, people and issues at hand, and the wisdom to know what might be needed in a given situation,” Wong said. “In general, I like to be as collaborative as possible so that all parties assume ownership as appropriate. I see myself as a servant leader. I am willing to work hard to make things happen, to facilitate the success of the team or the group.”
However, Wong said that in certain situations, the dean must make unpopular decisions and promise to be upfront and honest when those decisions have to be made.
“I also appreciate that sometimes leaders must make decisions, and some unpleasant ones,” Wong said. “When that happens, I like to be as forthright as possible about the reasons for my decision and to be seen as someone with whom those who dissent could have an honest conversation.”
Carole Keener, dean of the School of Nursing, Health and Exercise Science and the chair of the search committee that reviewed the candidates for the position, said that Wong impressed the committee with her skill as a caring communicator.
“Dr. Wong is very bright and articulate,” Keener said. “She is a strategic thinker (who is) very knowledgeable about higher education issues. She is very interested in the opinions of students, faculty and staff (and is) committed to inclusivity.”
According to Keener, the committee was looking for a dean who possessed strong leadership, the ability to work in the strong shared governance model structure of the College and someone committed to student engagement.
“Dr. Wong is very aware of the needs of HSS and will be a good advocate for the many departments within HSS. She has experience as a dean and brings a breadth of experiences in higher education to (the College),” Keener said. “Her ability to listen and to articulate in her visit to campus that she had already thought of how she fit within the institution demonstrates how she will seek to integrate and learn about the vast array of programs offered through HSS.”
Prior to her service at ASU, Wong served as a member of the psychology department at the University of Northern Iowa, where she ran graduate studies in psychology. She has authored or co-authored more than 25 articles in peer reviewed journals about clinical psychology, according to the same TCNJ Today article.
Last month, The Signal reported on Wong’s visit to the College where she held an open forum attended by members of the campus community. During that visit, she was also interviewed by Provost Taylor and President R. Barbara Gitenstein.
Wong will officially begin her position as dean of HSS on July 1, 2016, taking it over from the current interim dean, John Sisko.