Gatepost Interview: Reema Zeineldin – Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Operations, Finance, and Institutional Effectiveness

Courtesy of Reema Zeineldin

What is your educational and professional background?

I have a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and I [had] my first faculty appointment at the University of New Mexico, which is a large public institution focusing on research. My work there was actually as a research faculty. … I was interested in switching more into teaching, so I was volunteering then to teach, I was volunteering to also serve the University, which prepared me to go into my next faculty appointment, which was [at] MCPHS University [Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences]. So that was my second faculty appointment, and this one was not research-focused – it was a more teaching-focused position. … From there, I made a change by going into a leadership position as a founding dean at Mount Ida College. I was there for four years. That college has closed. … I was a founding dean and a closing dean. … Luckily, after the closing of Mount Ida, I got another job, at Mercy College. I served as Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs. It mainly had to do with recruitment, faculty development, promotion, tenure – supporting faculty and overseeing the budgets in relation to that, and also overseeing the student tutoring center. I’ve had my eye for a while on Framingham State University, so when I saw the posting, I just couldn’t resist it! It was a difficult decision, actually, because I was very happy at Mercy College, but I could not resist applying here. So I applied, and here we are!

What goals do you have as the new Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Operations, Finance, and Institutional Effectiveness?

So one of my goals is to definitely support the needs of academic affairs, specifically the deans and departmental directors with their needs – of course, providing and overseeing institutional effectiveness. I oversee the units that specifically provide the data for the institution, and that helps us make sound decisions and that would support student retention and student success. One of my goals is definitely tying into supporting student success and retention. And the other thing, which ties also to the mission of the institution, is to support antiracism and to support inclusivity and equity for our students – also to support their success. Framingham [State] also has part of its mission is to create global citizens and ethical citizens. I’m hoping in my work to support also that part.

What brought you to FSU?

Definitely the mission of the institution and its commitment to inclusion and diversity, and now that I’m here, I’m hearing more about the commitment to antiracism. So these were all attractive factors for me. One of the things that I’ve been sharing with colleagues as I started here is that my daughter is actually an alumna from FSU! She graduated in 2018. She studied Global Studies. … We wanted her to come to FSU – it was one of the institutions that I’ve followed for a while. We felt that it would be a great match for her. … She had a really wonderful experience, made excellent connections with her professors, with her classmates, and she has fond memories of FSU. [FSU] is a public institution – I’m very committed to the mission of a public institution in providing high-quality education and serving the community. That’s a big part for me.

What are the greatest successes of your professional career?

As a leader, I felt one of my contributions when I was at Mount Ida, was establishing a new school. So, I came into Mount Ida, into a newly formed school of departments that were not together as part of a school. In order to establish the relations with everybody, and to get everyone on board to realize, “OK, now we have become a school, and how do we want to connect with each other and operate as a school?” … A lot of the work that I’ve done has also supported student retention and graduation, especially in my recent job at Mercy College, also overseeing the center for tutoring of students. We had certain programs to encourage students to come to the tutoring. We had also a program that helped students who were struggling in certain classes to help them graduate. I feel good that I was able to contribute to these programs.

What advice do you have for FSU students?

Hang in there! … But I want to share what I feel about the institution – I feel that our students are in an excellent institution that’s really preparing them for their careers, preparing them to become lifelong learners, and it’s important for students to take advantage of all the opportunities that present themselves at FSU – whether it has to do with learning, with inclusion, with antiracism, with growing professionally, and personally – there are so many opportunities, and I’ve seen that since I’ve come here. I mean, I’ve been here a week-and-a-half, but I’ve seen so many invitations to events that are happening on campus, so it’s really important for students to take advantage of these events, because this is where you have events for free. So, it’s almost important to take advantage of these because that’s really what helps students grow – whether professionally or personally. So it’s really important to do that.