In March, Jacqueline Taylor began her tenure as TCNJ’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. Taylor brings more than 30 years of experiences as both an academic and an administrator at DePaul University to her current role, having most recently served as the founding dean of that university’s College of Communication. Prior to that, Taylor served in a number of leadership positions including associate vice president for academic affairs, director of the Humanities Center, associate dean of graduate studies in Liberal Arts and Sciences, chair of communication, director of women’s studies, and undergraduate program coordinator. She also held academic appointments in both the English and communication departments at DePaul.
Taylor said she wasn’t actively pursuing a new position when the TCNJ posting was brought to her attention. However, after reading about the College and its mission, and meeting with faculty and staff, her interest was piqued. “I saw real connections with what I valued most about DePaul: the high-caliber teaching, small classes with a real interest in the development of each student, an emphasis on community engagement, and a focus on preparing students to lead and serve,” she said.
Ultimately, it was some of the differences TCNJ offered that helped convince Taylor to leave the university upon which she had had such a profound impact. “I liked the idea of working on a highly residential campus that is small enough for me to be a part of the community,” said Taylor. “The provost’s job at a large institution can be very far removed from the faculty and students, and here, there is the opportunity to be part of the life of the campus.”
A self-described “program builder,” Taylor also was excited by the challenges awaiting TCNJ’s next provost. “[DePaul’s] College of Communication was at a transition point in the sense that the really intense work associated with the startup years had been done,” she explained. “I like a challenge; I’m a builder… [and] one of the things [this position] offered was the opportunity to be thinking about how to help this institution move forward.”
Now three months into her work, Taylor said her attention is focused on a number of areas. She chairs the committee that will determine the programming of the STEM Complex. She wants to examine ways to refine the academic advising process at TCNJ, and also wants to expand the undergraduate research, internship, community-engaged learning, and leadership development opportunities available to the College’s students. “We want to continue to build out and develop opportunities for students both inside and outside the classroom to help each student develop to their full potential,” she added.
Another priority is enhancing the use of technology in the classroom. “We need to look at creating more opportunities for the faculty who wish to build their capacity to use technology in and out of the classroom to teach their classes, so that we continue to provide the richest possible educational experience for our students in a digital age,” the provost explained.
Taylor said the reception she received upon arriving on campus, as well as the widespread enthusiasm she sees from faculty and staff for building upon the institution’s already strong offerings, have confirmed the very positive impressions she had of the College during her interviews last fall. “I saw TCNJ as a fine institution in a great place—not a place that needed someone to come in and try to fix things,” she explained. “We’re attracting phenomenal students, and we’re providing them with a first-class educational experience within a rich and caring community on a beautiful campus.” The goal is to continue to build on that, she said.
“The sense of community here really is palpable,” Taylor continued. “From the minute I stepped on campus, [I noticed] an intentionality of trying to create community, to collaborate, and to consult broadly that I think is really part of the DNA of this institution, and I find that very appealing.”