Dean of Students candidate visits campus: Meg Nowak

By Bailey Morrison, Associate Editor

By Jillian Poland, News Editor

A candidate for the Dean of Students position answered questions from the FSU community in two open forums held on Oct. 27 in the Alumni Room.

The candidate, Meg Nowak, has been the vice president for student affairs at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York since 2008.

Prior to working at Hartwick College, Nowak was the assistant dean for student services at Ithaca College School of Business from 2006 to 2008, the assistant dean of students at Cornell University from 2000 to 2002 and director of orientation and first year programs here at Framingham State from 1997 to 2000.

Nowak said growing up, she knew her family couldn’t afford to send her to a four-year college and her mother told her to choose a two-year institution. “Little did she know, I would be in college for 12 years and receive a Ph.D. But that was what I could aspire to at the time, so that’s what I did.”

Nowak said she had an aunt who wanted her to go to college, “not work and go to college.” Her aunt helped fund her education and Nowak received degrees in psychology and business.

In 2004, she received a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College.

A meeting geared toward students was held at 9:30 a.m. Six students attended and sat in a circle to ask questions and discuss Nowak’s qualifications.   

One student asked Nowak what experience she has had dealing with hate crimes and how she addressed it at the previous institutions she worked at. She said the first and most important thing to do is to document the incident.

Nowak said, “Nowadays, it’s very easy to take a picture. If there is a clearly identified victim, work with the victim to understand how they are feeling, what they’re doing.”

She added, “I think there are times when we can make it public, but there are times we need to respect their wishes” to keep the incident private. 

Nowak said it is important to address the issue with the community, adding the administration must do a lot of work to make students feel safe.

A meeting open to the entire FSU community was held at 1:30 p.m. Approximately 25 people attended.

Catherine Dignam, chair of the chemistry and food science department, asked Nowak what she thought is the ideal relationship between student and academic affairs.

Nowak said in an ideal relationship, the departments respect each other.

She said, “I will respect that when you’re in the classroom teaching … you do that better than I ever will. But, I also hope that if in your classroom you feel – and you’re not trained to do this – like you want to talk about diversity issues or you want to talk about transition issues, or homesickness or rape and sexual assault – if that comes into your classroom, you’ll reach out to us because there are people on this campus, like the people in student affairs, who do that.”

Nowak said it is time for her to move on from a vice presidential position because she has enjoyed it, but she has other interests now.

She added, “I’m ready to reframe my thoughts.”

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