College of Education and Human Services interim dean reflects on new responsibilities

By Hailey Hensley

After serving 10 years as Dean of the College of Education and Human Services (CEHS), Sharon Sherman chose to step down from her position and return to a teaching role in the university, according to a January 2020 announcement.

Upon her departure, former Associate Dean Jason Barr was appointed to serve as dean in the interim period, before a formal search for Sherman’s replacement is conducted.

Barr eagerly described the importance of the College of Education and Human Services, smiling brightly as he enumerated the values the college seeks to instill in the future educators of New Jersey.

“We primarily teach teachers. We teach them how to become excellent public and private school teachers. We teach counselors and school psychologists, kind of all those professionals that were there when you were going through grade school,” Barr said. “Our goal is to create a well-rounded teacher or professional once they leave the university.”

Junior elementary education major Kayla Williams clarified that she had yet to really meet her new dean, but that so far her experience with him so far has been “pretty good.”

Barr explained a major hurdle he feels is facing the college imminently: accreditation. Barr stated that early in his higher education career he found an interest in the facts and figures behind college and program-specific accreditation, which eventually led to him taking on administrative roles.

“I think that our biggest challenge, moving forward as a college is the level of accreditation for all our programs. In the next few years, a lot of our programs are coming up for accreditation… We have a brand new nursing program we’re starting that needs to be accredited. So we’re going to have a lot of external evaluation of what we do here,” Barr said.

Barr also delved into some personal challenges he has faced in his new role as interim dean, the predominant one, he said, there are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything he would like to do.

“The personal challenge is really trying to be available to so many people. I recently got an email from a student asking me to participate in ‘Faculty Family Feud’ for Relay for Life and unfortunately, I can’t make it, I have a family obligation,” Barr said. “But it’s all those little things. I want to meet with students, I want to talk to faculty and staff, I want to represent the college… so I’m always being pulled in all these different directions.”

Barr then took the time to elaborate on the meaning and responsibilities of his new role as well as why he feels good administrators are imperative for student success.

“While I interact now less with students directly, I’m not teaching classes and I don’t grade papers. I don’t see students in that way, but I see this job as a way I can help professors and make things easier for them in some ways. In that way, I impact a much larger group,” Barr said. “So in my role, I can affect all students in the college. I might not talk to every single one of them, and I might not know every single one of them, but I have the opportunity to really move the college in a way that’s going to help all the students.”

According to Barr, he is unaware of the timeline for the selection of a permanent dean but says Rider administration wants to “get through this semester” first.

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