Dr. Maureen Gillette
The new dean of the College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) had previously made her mark as a higher education leader in New Jersey during her tenure as associate dean for William Paterson University from 1999 to 2005. Although her next assignment would take her to the Midwest for the better part of a decade, Maureen Gillette, Ph.D., has returned to the Garden State once again to take the helm of one of Seton Hall University's largest and most diverse colleges—and it is the subject of diversity for which Dr. Gillette not only has a passion, but one she has influenced significantly throughout her career.
Dr. Gillette previously served as the dean of the College of Education at Northeastern Illinois University. She began her career as a classroom teacher, having spent 13 years teaching a variety of elementary and middle school grade levels before starting her career as a teacher educator at The College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, where she was Chair of the Department of Teacher Education. Upon earning her MS Ed. from Northern Illinois University, Dr. Gillette went on to complete a Ph.D. in the area of curriculum and instruction, with a minor in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds a certificate in Management and Leadership in Higher Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, along with other certificates including an ACE National Women's Leadership Forum certificate from the American Council on Education. In 2015, Mometrix Test Preparation named Dr. Gillette one of the 30 most influential deans of education in the United States.
She is co-author of Learning to Teach Everyone's Children: Equity, Empowerment, and Education that is Multicultural.
What attracted you to Seton Hall and drew you to apply for the position as dean of the College of Education and Human Services?
I knew of Seton Hall and its fine reputation from my days as associate dean of the College of Education at William Paterson University. I know a former Seton Hall dean and associate dean. Having been a Catholic school elementary and middle school teacher, and having started my career in higher education at an institution with a Catholic tradition, Seton Hall's mission and vision resonated with me.
Having previously worked for a state university in New Jersey, how would you compare that to working for a private one now?
This is not my first time working for a private institution, and I have had a career in both public and private P-12 and higher education institutions. I find that there are highly committed and talented faculty, students, and administrators in public and in private education.
The first 13 years of your academic career were spent as a middle and elementary school teacher. Do you ever miss that classroom environment?
I miss the classroom – both P-12 and the university classroom – every day. I am a teacher at heart. I always tell our prospective teachers that it is an honor and a privilege to teach young people.
Was there a teacher that inspired you? How did he/she do this?
I have been fortunate to have had many teachers who inspired me, but my desire to teach really was cultivated by my parents (neither of whom were teachers). Each in their own way, my dad as a little league coach, and my mom as a nurse, taught me to teach with high standards and an ethic of care.
What can students expect in CEHS under your leadership?
I value transparency and inclusivity. I hope that as I get to know our students, I can provide many opportunities for dialogue and professional growth. Our CEHS students are in our college because they desire to make a contribution to the betterment of society through their chosen profession; teachers, P-12 and higher education administrators, counselors, therapists, or police officers. I, along with our fabulous faculty, want to do everything we can to support them as they attain their goals.
Your work has had a significant focus on multiculturalism in education. Why were you drawn to this, and how would you like to influence that element in CEHS?
When I was teaching sixth grade in a Catholic school in my home town, about 30 percent of my students were African-American or Latino. Our society was struggling to implement the vision of Civil Rights reformers, but we were (and are) far from the ideals of equity and justice for all. I could see a microcosm of this struggle in the experiences and lived reality of the students in my classroom. I got into values-based education during my master's program, and reform-oriented, social justice education during my doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ensuring that each and every child, but especially those children who are learning in our nation's most challenged schools, get an education that will allow them to reach their goals in life, and positively contribute to society, is a passion of mine.
Throughout your career, you have been an advocate for values-based education. Your work has included publishing more than 20 journal articles and book chapters and presenting more than 35 scholarly papers. You have also done work with preparing first generation teacher candidates for urban schools. Of your many achievements, which are you most proud of and why?
I had a program at William Paterson University, Paterson Teachers for Tomorrow, and one in Chicago, Grow Your Own Teacher, that each recruited community-based teacher candidates who would go back into their home community to teach. I am extremely proud of both of these programs and the graduates who are now making a difference in classrooms of kids who are able to see themselves in their teacher.
Give us a glimpse of who Dean Gillette is outside the office. Where would people most likely find you when you're not at work?
I love to read, go to the theatre, and try new restaurants. Several years ago, after my brother-in-law passed away from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, my sister and I took up running with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Team-In-Training (TNT) program. I ran my first half-marathon in 2014 to benefit LLS at, let's just say, an age older than most people start running. I have kept it up, and although I am one of the slower runners on the course, I enjoy the challenge and the collegiality provided by TNT.
Why this is an exciting time to be a part of the College of Education and Human Services?
Our faculty are doing amazing research and publishing on important topics. Our students have the benefit of having scholar practitioners as their professors. However, the entire field of education is facing enormous challenges as enrollments decline and funding for higher education becomes more challenging. For CEHS, it is especially difficult because there are a lot of media and societal messages that discourage people from entering the fields that we value so highly (i.e., teaching, administration, policing, counseling, therapy). The faculty and my administrative team in the CEHS are facing these challenges head on with excellent curricular and extra-curricular programming, exciting teaching methodologies and integrated technologies. Our graduates are highly sought after and we hope to use their feedback and expertise to continue to move ahead in important directions.