Veteran FDU Faculty Member Hopes to Be Effective in University College Interim Dean Position
By Elizabeth White
Dr. Vicki Cohen, the current director of the Peter Sammartino School of Education, will be the interim University College Dean for the 2017-2018 academic school year.
She explained that her plans are to usher FDU through the changes that are coming in the future, including the possible restructuring of the university.
“My main purpose is to serve Fairleigh Dickinson University and to make us a better institution on all campuses, not just this one, which I think is really important because we are one university,” Cohen said.
Cohen hopes that she can hold things together and be as effective as she can be for a year.
“I’d like to see Fairleigh Dickinson University continue functioning as a very effective university for the students we serve,” she said.
Cohen explained that the position is one she never expected to get, and that she is both excited and nervous to be the next University College Dean. She feels the new position will have a steep learning curve, but she’s planning on taking the new role with stride.
“I like challenges a lot and I’m very good at problem solving,” Cohen said. “There are going to be a lot of problems to solve.”
“I hope that I’m a good leader and that I can be very fair and transparent to the faculty and the students,” Cohen said.
Cohen hopes that the students and faculty will think that she is a good fit for the role.
“I come from a good, broad background in terms of education which I hope I can apply to the university as a whole,” Cohen said.
Cohen has been at FDU for 25 years. She came to the university in 1991 as an assistant professor in education and worked her way up, becoming the assistant director to the school of education and then being promoted to her current position, director of the school of education.
“The best part of my job in any capacity is really working with the students because I think that the students at FDU are terrific on both campuses,” Cohen said. “We have excellent students. Our students are hardworking and serious and they’re really here to learn.”
Cohen also served on the Faculty Senate, including cochairing one of the committees Her area of specialty is literacy.
“I teach the beginning reading course for certification of elementary education teachers,” she said.
Cohen is also a published author. She uses her book “Literacy for Children in an Information Age: Teaching Reading, Writing, and Thinking” to teach her students.
“I respect the students a great deal and that’s really what pushes me forward,” Cohen said.
She said that the hardest part will be leaving her current position as director of the school of education.
“I don’t feel like I’m leaving, I’m just kind of having a sabbatical for a year and then coming back,” Cohen said. “But any problems that arise, guaranteed that I’ll be here to solve them.”
Cohen said that she will miss everything about the Sammartino school while she’s dean because she has been in the education department for 25 years and loves it.
“There are a lot of changes going down in terms of what you need to do to become a teacher, a lot of new regulations,” Cohen said. “We have a lot of challenges within the school of education that we need to face in the next couple of years, including accreditation.”
Cohen hopes to take the Sammartino School through all of these changes within the next few years.
Cohen will also place a strong emphasis on the interconnectedness of all of FDU’s campuses.
“It’s really important that all the disparate elements of the university are kind of pulled together so that we look upon each other and serve each other as one university,” Cohen said.