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Mount Mary University’s New Deans: First Impressions

Humanities and Social Sciences, Business and Education deans build relationships, advance the Creative Campus Initiative

With their first academic year under their belts, two of Mount Mary University’s new academic deans, Kathleen Dougherty, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Humanities, and Chioma Ugochukwu, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Business and Education, have worked to build relationships with their colleagues and external constituents, as well as to advance the university’s Creative Campus Initiative.

In their own words, discover what the first academic year at Mount Mary has entailed for Dougherty and Ugochukwu.

Kathleen Dougherty

Kathleen Dougherty

School of Humanities

Dougherty came to Mount Mary from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She has an undergraduate degree in philosophy from St. Olaf College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Oklahoma.

Chioma Ugochukwu

Chioma Ugochukwu

School of Social Sciences, Business and Education

Ugochukwu came to Mount Mary from Marquette University, where she served as assistant dean in the Diederich College of Communications. She began her career as a journalist in Nigeria before completing doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Barbara Armstrong

Barbara Armstrong

School of Arts and Design

Armstrong came to Mount Mary from Kahler Slater, where she served as workplace experience strategist and co-team leader of the Culture Communications business unit.  Her 30 years of experience in design organizational leadership will be valuable in the forwarding of Mount Mary's Creative Campus Initiative. Read more.

Q: What surprised you as you started your new role at Mount Mary?

Dougherty: Because of an intensive Menlo experience with other Mount Mary colleagues at the GE Healthcare Campus during my second week on the job, I quickly developed good working relationships with colleagues whom it would have taken me weeks to meet under traditional circumstances.

Ugochukwu: I was particularly taken in by the “community impact” goal Mount Mary has as part of its strategic initiatives. This goal, in addition to that of student success, is one I’d like to prioritize. Additionally, I learned there is an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to fundraise, seek grants and endowments, and partner with other organizations. 

Q: What have you enjoyed the most in your first academic year at Mount Mary?

Dougherty: I have been moved by how warmly the faculty members have welcomed me and how willing they have been to work collaboratively to advance the interests of the humanities and our programs.

Ugochukwu: One of the satisfying things about serving as a dean is that you meet a lot of people. The kind of networking and interaction that you normally engage in at professional and community events takes on a different and heightened meaning.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in these first few months?

Dougherty: Starting to build good relationships with other members of the campus community and with external constituents has been incredibly rewarding. These good relationships will be the building blocks for everything the School of Humanities hopes to accomplish.

Ugochukwu: One of my priorities was to join the efforts to increase enrollment numbers, especially for our accelerated programs. I have had good conversations with the Admission Office around this issue. To create more visibility for our faculty and students, we plan to create a vibrant Facebook page and newsletter. We have already put together stories for the first SSBE newsletter. We will debut our Facebook page this February.

Additionally, I have reached out to some local communities, including the Nigerian community in Milwaukee, with information on our programs. I also have made connections with people and organizations serving the greater Milwaukee area, and have had conversations that could lead to partnerships to benefit our students and community.

Q: What’s ahead for you at Mount Mary?

Dougherty: We plan to work toward greater visibility of our humanities programs, helping to support the work of the faculty, and working with the faculty to bring the Creative Campus Initiative more fully into our classrooms and curriculum.

Ugochukwu: I will continue to support our faculty members’ efforts to enhance our accelerated programs and explore offering more hybrid courses. One way to increase our visibility is to foster mutually beneficial partnerships with external partners. These partnerships could benefit students by exposing them to more internship opportunities and extracurricular activities.

I also hope to focus on retention goals, and have scheduled an SSBE student forum in February so I can hear from students. Plus, I want to explore the possibility of starting a summer entrepreneurship workshop for local high school students, so we can introduce young girls to entrepreneurship, ethics and business principles.

Q: What does the “creative campus” mean to you?

Dougherty: I think the Creative Campus Initiative gives us the freedom to think more broadly about how we approach problems, how we think about what it means to think critically and how we integrate work across disciplines. I find the opportunities for cross-disciplinary work most exciting.

Ugochukwu: The idea of a creative campus suggests that we are working toward a campus where bold agendas are encouraged. I believe that when people talk about creativity or a creative campus, it is really all about innovation and synergy. For me, the idea of a creative campus suggests exploring new ways of tackling issues that have always presented themselves in academia, including issues around student success, recruitment and retention.