Campus & Community

The College of Arts and Letters Names Inaugural Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academics

In this new role, Dr. Jennifer McBryan, a teaching associate professor and former director of the First-Year Experience, will catalyze the unit's commitment to student success and learning.

Headshot of Jennifer McBryanThe College of Arts and Letters is proud to announce Dr. Jennifer McBryan as the unit’s inaugural Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies. A valued member of the university since 2011, McBryan will catalyze student and faculty success within the epicenter of arts, humanities, and social sciences at Stevens.

“Over the past couple of years at the College, we’ve had a huge amount of progress and a development of exciting, new energy,” said McBryan. “The creation of this role is exemplary of Stevens’ commitment to continually improving the experience and success of students.”

According to Kelland Thomas, the College’s dean, creating the new position was a necessary step in accelerating the unit’s progress. Moreover, he expressed great confidence in McBryan, pointing to her expertise and years of experience. 

“Dr. McBryan’s work has advanced the unit’s mission, immersing students in conversations that connect intellectual disciplines,” said Thomas. “She is a determined, effective, and generous academic leader, a perfect match for this student-centric role.”

For the last nine years, McBryan served as the director of the First-Year Experience, two courses taken by all first-year students at Stevens. These courses introduce students to the fundamentals of writing, communication, and critical inquiry at the college level, inspiring students to frame and answer questions about the world. The role invited McBryan to collaborate on significant undergraduate-focused initiatives, and she often works with the Academic Affairs team in the Office of the Provost.

Under McBryan’s leadership, the program grew rapidly, from teaching 725 first-year students to over 1,100 annually. Her responsibilities included staffing these courses each year, modernizing the curriculum, improving the course reader, and fostering a vibrant and inclusive pedagogical culture. 

“One of the biggest things that we want them to understand is that the way a person or organization frames questions about the world tells you a lot about their values,” said McBryan. “These classes, known as CAL 103 and 105, teach students how to interrogate questions, not just answer them.”

“Every time someone asks you a question about the world, you should think where is this question coming from? What is its purpose?” McBryan continued. “That’s a habit of mind. It’s a way of thinking about the world that we hope students apply not just to their studies, but also to their lives, their relationships, and their careers.”

As the associate dean, McBryan plans to hit the ground running by analyzing and evolving the ways the needs of students and faculty are met. Also a teaching associate professor of writing and humanities, she will remain an active faculty member. One of McBryan’s objectives is to consider how to offer courses that inspire the curiosities and creativities of students and faculty alike. 

“The people I work with every day are fascinating, incredibly intelligent, and forward-thinking with their research,” said McBryan. “They’re also all wonderful colleagues and very supportive of one another.” 

“Being able to have a life where I go to work every day and those are the people that I get to interact with is fantastic,” said McBryan. “I can’t believe this is my job.” 

McBryan graduated from Rutgers University with a Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature in 2011. Now, she sees Stevens as the best place to teach such a discipline.

“The humanities, social sciences, and arts introduce a frame of mind in which students never look at the world and assume what it is,” said McBryan. “We’re changing the way students see the world.”