The College of Liberal Arts' second annual Dean for a Day took place Thursday, Nov. 1. This year’s selection was Catherine Lenahan who took on Acting Dean Jonathan Mercantini’s responsibilities for a day while Mercantini attended her classes as a student.
The application process for this honor took place in late September. All interested students had to have at least one class and one school event scheduled for the day in order to be eligible. They also had to submit an essay regarding why they believed it would be valuable for Mercantini to go through one of their days as a student.
Lenahan is a senior psychology and pre-occupational therapy double major. She said she originally applied for the position to have a higher level of influence at the school, particularly regarding opportunities and conditions for commuter students at Kean.
“I was inspired to be dean for a day out of curiosity. I was interested in making my voice heard and making a difference for students at Kean. By applying, I hoped to achieve a connection with Kean University and its staff and faculty, as well as sharing my ideas with Acting Dean Mercantini regarding commuter students,” Lenahan said.
As Dean, Lenahan’s schedule was packed with a variety of events and meetings. Her day began with a visit to the occupational therapy clinic with Mercantini. This was followed by a meeting with Scott Snowden (Director of the Center for Leadership and Service), Carli Hench (Managing Assistant Director of the Office of Student Government), and a group of commuter students. Mercantini also sat in on this meeting as a student, where they examined some of the issues commuter students face and discussed changes that could be made to make the campus a more comfortable place for those who don’t live in the dorms, such as adding more microwaves, charging areas and stations for filling water bottles.
Lunch was followed with a meeting with Joy Moskowitz, the assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, and Jeffrey Toney, Ph.D., the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. There, Lenahan was able to further discuss the topics covered in the commuter student meeting, as well as learn about the Division of Academic Affairs and its role at Kean.
From there, Lenahan attended and led the first portion of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) leadership meeting, while CLA Acting Assistant Dean Deborah Skibitsky sat in on her class on community mental health with Norma Bowe, Ph.D. Alongside Mercantini, she closed out the day by going to her psychology of perception class, taught by Professor Andrew LeBlanc.
Lenahan said she was impressed by the degree to which Mercantini’s schedule engaged with students and their needs throughout the day.
“Every meeting and event has the students’ interests at heart and they take into account our ideas. As students, we don’t get to see behind the scenes. This opportunity proved to me that the main goal and mission of Kean University and more specifically the College of Liberal Arts is how we can better serve the students,” Lenahan said.
The opportunity also helped her to network and further her mission to make Kean as welcoming and valuable to commuter students as possible.
“As dean for a day, I was able to meet a lot of faculty that took the time to listen to my ideas for commuter students. I accomplished my goal of speaking on behalf of commuter students and hearing from other students on their ideas,” Lenahan said. “Overall, I gained insight into how the College of Liberal Arts functions and a better understanding of how students can come together to make Kean University more commuter-friendly."