University Appoints Dr. Lisa Gill as New Assistant Senior Class Dean

Dr.+Lisa+Gill+accepts+new+position+as+the+assistant+senior+class+dean+at+Rose+Hill.+%28Courtesy+of+Forbes%29

Dr. Lisa Gill accepts new position as the assistant senior class dean at Rose Hill. (Courtesy of Forbes)

Haley Daniels, Contributing Writer

Dr. Lisa Gill, FCLC ‘98, was recently appointed Rose Hill’s assistant senior class dean. The Bronx native has extensive experience teaching and working closely with students of all ages, which prepared her for her new position. 

“It’s a different side of teaching,” said Gill. “I enjoy the nature of having to deal with so many different kinds of students at the same time.”

Gill grew up in the Bronx where she attended Catholic school from grade school through high school. After graduating, she attended Fordham College at Lincoln Center campus to study history with the intention of becoming a lawyer, a dream of hers since the age of five. After interning at a law office, Gill realized she did not have a passion for the legal profession. She decided to add a second major in African American studies due to a deep personal connection she had with a faculty mentor.

After graduating from Fordham in 1998, Gill took two years off from academia. She then decided to continue her education at the University of Maryland, where she earned her doctorate in African American studies and became inspired by her mentor to pursue a teaching career. 

“It wasn’t until I saw someone who looked like me, doing things that I thought were generally fascinating, I was like this may be something I am able to do,” Gill said.

Gill received a Fulbright Scholarship and spent a year in Germany teaching at Universität Regensburg. A friend contacted her during her time there and offered her a teaching position for the upcoming semester at Skidmore University. After returning home in 2011, Gill took the part-time teaching position but simultaneously began a larger-scale job search.

Shortly after, she began her work as a director for the Children’s Village centered in Harlem and the Polo Grounds housing projects. Gill ran a literacy program for middle school students as well as a community center in Highbridge in the South Bronx for several years. “I really enjoyed the projects I was working on,” said Gill. “It felt necessary and helpful to be in that space.”

During this time, Gill said she was dedicated to ensuring that the attendees “enjoy their youth,” even though they were living in neighborhoods where violence was common, and in many households, grandparents were the primary caregivers.

After several years of working in the South Bronx, Gill’s old mentor from Fordham reached out and offered her a job as a Latin American studies lecturer for a single class at the university. Soon thereafter, she put in her resignation at the Children’s Village. 

Her mentor requested that she teach the class again, and Gill spent a year as an adjunct professor at Fordham. She then moved to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) to continue as an adjunct professor for three years. After her time at NJIT, the chair of the African American studies department at Fordham contacted Gill about a fellowship application, which she subsequently filled out and received. 

At the beginning of last year, Gill filled in part-time for one of the deans at Lincoln Center who had recently taken maternity leave. She said the dean’s office activities came to her naturally. While acting as a part-time dean at Lincoln Center, she chose to apply for an opening at the Rose Hill campus for the assistant senior class dean. 

Dr. Maura Mast, Dean of Fordham Rose Hill, hired Gill in 2020 out of about 60 candidates. After a nationwide search conducted by the university’s human resources departments, Gill’s application quickly rose to the top due to her experience as a lecturer at Lincoln Center and her advising committee work at the University of Maryland. Moreover, Mast said that the dean’s office’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity made the decision easy. She had experience supporting students in a way that none of the other candidates did. 

Mast said she hopes that Gill will continue to encourage pupils as she has in her previous roles. One of Mast’s goals for Gill includes increasing graduation rates. Another reason for hiring Gill, according to Mast, was her ability to read data. This includes interpreting national graduation trends and adjusting policies in the office respectively.

Gill said she has taken Mast’s intention sincerely and repeatedly emphasized the utmost importance of ensuring her students have all of the resources and tools they need in order to be successful. She hopes her students will understand that they will be safe on campus no matter what. “My goal is to help those students, especially those who are leaving, recognize that they are more in a position of power than they recognize,” Gill said.

Adapting to her new role as assistant dean during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been an easy task, said Gill. She said she feels the pandemic has led seniors to think that they are in an extra high-stakes scenario as they near graduation and plan for their futures. As a result, she has committed to a focus on combating the negative mental health impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Gill said she seeks to create “some semblance of normalcy” for her students. 

“It seems students have been impacted by the pandemic through personal illness, family illness, loss,” said Gill. “It’s a very stress-inducing time period.” 

However, Gill is not giving up hope for students’ futures despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought to colleges. In order to ensure that her students are ready to move on after Fordham, she has partnered with Career Services to coordinate monthly online events, which she refers to as “Zoom Happy Hours.” The events range from basic “real-world skills” help, such as workshops on how to create a resume or how to do well in an interview, to specific programs with alumni. 

Within the first months of her role as assistant dean, Gill has already made a profound impact on her students, said Mast. “She has hit the ground running,” she said.

Gill said she has done her best to lay the groundwork for a successful future as an assistant dean at Fordham, and she hopes to continue on a similar path for the rest of her career. 

“I love what I do,” she said. “I like being around young people. I like being around education, so if I can continue to do that for the rest of my life, I think I’m good.”