Meet the Deans: Dr. Jennifer Waldron returns to BGSU to support graduate student success
Alumna strives to provide students with rich experiences and opportunities
BGSU welcomed three new deans to campus this summer. In our Meet the Deans series, we’re introducing you to each dean, the expertise they bring to the University and the impact they’re planning to make at BGSU.
By Laren Kowalczyk '07
More than two decades ago, Dr. Jennifer Waldron '99 walked onto campus at Bowling Green State University as a graduate student. Her experiences throughout those two years shaped her future, eventually leading her back to the very place she credits with igniting her passion for graduate education.
My graduate experience was life-changing. As I entered my faculty career, I knew I wanted to work with graduate students and be closely connected to graduate programs.
Waldron joined BGSU in July as vice provost and dean of graduate and professional programs and is looking forward to ensuring graduate students are offered a journey similar to hers - full of unique experiences and opportunities that feel “magical.”
“When I talk with prospective graduate students, I always talk about graduate education being this magical time,” Waldron said. “You are challenged, but you have the skills and support of the faculty and your cohort of students. When you put it all together, magic happens.”
For Waldron, creating an environment in which students can thrive is multi-faceted. It starts with keeping students at the heart of every decision and providing ample collaborative research opportunities. Waldron also acknowledged the importance of ensuring program offerings align with existing and emerging career trends.
She noted that while there has been growth nationally in master’s programs, a recent shift in the career interests of doctoral students has prompted a reevaluation of Ph.D. programs.
“A higher percentage of doctoral students are going into industry, private-sector, nonprofits and manufacturing careers,” Waldron said. “It shifts how we think about graduate education and changes the responsibility an institution has to prepare students for these diverse careers as well as careers in higher education.”
Waldron also plans to look at the two years of pandemic-era learning to determine what is working and what might be falling short. She acknowledged that moving to virtual and hybrid learning was a necessity at the time, but it’s critical to understand the lasting impact on student success.
“Now that we have had a little space to breathe, we need to be looking, as an institution and higher education as a whole, at understanding what has worked, what is helping our students and what is creating the kind of environments we want,” Waldron said. “Is this what students are looking for? Are students really succeeding?"
Waldron has spent almost 19 years at the University of Northern Iowa, a regional university in Cedar Falls, where she most recently served as associate vice president of research and innovation and dean of the Graduate College. Waldron was also the interim dean of online and distance education and a professor of kinesiology.
Among her most significant accomplishments were leading an initiative to create accelerated master’s degree programs, of which three will be launched this fall, and creating a program to support mental health during the height of the pandemic.
Waldron was also responsible for bolstering the university’s relationship with community colleges in a pilot program that doubled enrollment in its second year, strengthening graduate enrollment, enhancing recruitment and retention strategies and leading a campus-wide program focused on growing capacity in response to student interest in high-demand majors and employment projections.
“I look forward to working with Dr. Waldron to create a bold vision for the future of graduate and professional education; cultivate and maintain strong relationships with stakeholders across campus; develop resources that will deepen support for graduate education; continue to build and strengthen BGSU’s diverse and inclusive graduate community, and enhance graduate student success and well-being,” said Joe B. Whitehead Jr., provost and senior vice president for Academic and Student Affairs.
Waldron has a Ph.D. in kinesiology from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in developmental kinesiology from BGSU.
“I'm very excited that Jen is returning to BGSU,” said Vikki Krane, Professor of Teaching Excellence in the School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, who played an integral role in Waldron’s graduate journey at the University. “It's been a privilege to work with her and be a small part of her journey from a master's student at the University to now vice provost and dean of graduate and professional programs. Her experience, passion and caring approach will benefit our graduate students and faculty and all who interact with her.”
Updated: 08/17/2022 04:54PM