Union names new dean of Academic Departments and Programs

Publication Date

Jennifer Fredricks has been appointed as the new dean of Academic Departments and Programs and professor of psychology. She takes over Sept. 1 for Wendy Sternberg '90, who has accepted a position as vice president for academic affairs and dean at Occidental College.

Fredricks was selected from among nearly 100 candidates after a national search.

She reports to Strom Thacker, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Jennifer to the Union community,” Thacker said. “She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in higher education that will serve her well in advancing the terrific work done in our academic departments and programs and by our faculty. I and others across campus look forward to working closely with her.”

The dean of Academic Departments and Programs works with department chairs and interdisciplinary program directors to support academic excellence at the College. The dean is responsible for faculty development, overseeing faculty hiring, participating in faculty reviews, designing and conducting faculty orientation programs, and administering internal research grants and fellowships, among other duties.

“Dr. Fredricks brings experience teaching and working across disciplinary boundaries at a well-respected liberal arts college,” said Kristin Fox, professor of chemistry and co-chair of the search committee. “This, in addition to her strong record of scholarship and experience in community outreach, will allow her to connect with faculty and staff across campus.”

Fredricks is a professor of human development at Connecticut College, where she also serves as the faculty director of the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. She previously served as the chair of the Human Development Department and the Priorities and Planning and Budget Committee, and has been a member of committees related to strategic planning, general education reform, teaching and learning, faculty resources, environmental justice, public health and accreditation.

Fredricks has published more than 50 articles and book chapters on student engagement, adolescent development, extracurricular participation and parent socialization in top-tiered educational and developmental journals. She is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences and has run several workshops on engaged and student-centered pedagogy.

She is the author of the book “Eight Myths of Student Disengagement: Creating Classrooms of Deep Learning.” She is currently co-editing “The Handbook of Student Engagement Interventions: Working with Disengaged Youth” with colleagues at the University of Minnesota and University of Georgia. She has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, American Educational Research Association and the Institute for Educational Studies.

In 2016, Fredricks was awarded a Students at the Center Distinguished Fellowship from Jobs for the Future to expand on the knowledge of student-centered learning and to communicate these to practitioners and policymakers. And in 2015, Fredricks was a recipient of a William T. Grant Distinguished Fellowship to deepen her understanding of educational policymaking through a long-term residency at a Connecticut legislative and advocacy organization.

Fredricks received her bachelor’s in psychology (with an economic concentration) from Columbia University, and a master’s in developmental psychology and Ph.D. in the combined program in education and psychology, both from the University at Michigan.