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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading

7 Questions with Cathryn F. Lavery

helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Cathryn F. Lavery

Name: Cathryn F. Lavery

Current title: Chair, Criminal Justice & Security

Current organisation: Pace University

Dr. Cathryn Lavery received her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the Graduate Center/CUNY and MS from Iona College. She is a certified mediator and a certified trainer from the Clery Center on Title IX. She received additional certifications on sexual victimization and trauma and forensic mental health issues. She is currently Chair for Pace University’s Criminal Justice and Security programs for the Westchester and NYC campuses. Before Pace she worked at Iona College, where she served as Chair & Graduate Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Department. She is contributor and co-editor of Socio-Political Risk Management: Assessing and Managing Global Insecurity (Lavery, Zaino, Engemann; DeGruyter Publications, 2022). She recently co-authored and published an article for Frontiers Journal, entitled, Caring for the Guardians – Exploring Needed Directions and Best Practices for Police Resilience, Practice and Research (Johnson, O., Grant, H. & C. Lavery, 2020). Dr. Lavery has published in various journals including Frontiers, Acta Psychopathologica, Journal of Behavioral Health, ACJS and the Journal of Law Enforcement.

7 Questions with Cathryn F. Lavery

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader in the education sector?

The responsibility of being a department Chair is faced with challenges from visualizing and creating a solid future for the department, balancing needs of faculty , administration, and students and keeping your department current and exciting for majors. Shifting attitudes and recent changes in higher education has resulted in an upheaval of pedagogical practices directly related to the pandemic. The realization of additional and critical needs for our students and the immediacy to convert and upgrade our technological skills has placed many in difficult positions. Further, as colleges and universities have been slowly converting their business models, pressure for department chairs across the country has been transformative. Although change in academia is constant, the shift in leadership responsibilities for chairpersons has grown.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Since the pandemic, I have found chairs and undoubtedly most faculty rearranging their lives and restructuring their time management. I try to be available as much as possible, but am completely attune to the need for self-care and balancing my scholarly projects, which are important to me. I make sure to exercise regularly and try to maintain a normal sleep pattern. My key to arrange and get familiar with my week Sunday evening and each night before bed, include changes and rearrange as necessary. I know many have a vision that teachers, college faculty in general, have plenty of time (including summers), but most faculty I know work at least 6 days a week. Between teaching preps, meetings, and research, it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole. I learned the hard way coming up for tenure and found myself exhausted, unhealthy and still not attaining my goals. By re-strategizing and prioritizing my needs, time management is easier and I definitely get more accomplished each day. There are always days of high stress and immediacy on issues, but preplanning and carving time out for yourself and your family and friends is necessary.

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

To ask for help and advice and not struggle alone. I have found at the institutions I have worked at to cultivate positive working relationships early on so that when issues arise, I can easily consult with a level of comfort. By listening and asking questions, it actually leads to a greater comfort within your leadership role.

4. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

I was given David Rock's The Quiet Leadership back when I first received tenure and became Chair at my previous institution. This book helped me improve my performance and communication not only with other chairs, but administrators and community partnerships. It helped me learn to trust myself in decision making and become more accountable with the ones made.

5. How do you find and keep great leaders in the education sector?

Looking for people with diverse skills and a knowledge base on what necessary changes need to be made at their institutions of higher education. Professionals geared towards a student focus and relating to their challenges and successes. Listening to their perspectives and experiences in higher education can help set goals and motivate for change. Strong leaders are pivotal in affecting positive changes and strengthening their institution's reputation and standing in the community.

6. What's most important as a leader in the education sector for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

To develop a culture of wellbeing at your campus, it is necessary to embrace the social trends of their region and community - concerns and acknowledging them, not just encourage the positive issues at hand. Creating events which foster diversity and inclusion. Encouraging creative ideas and positive thinking, which not only help create a safe environment for those working there, but allows them to feel comfortable to express themselves - including concerns they may have. A strong leader creates a vision for their department - their faculty, staff and their students. It is reflected with their ideas, initiatives and actions. Staying positive, gracious and appreciative and in ongoing communication with members of their department reinforces a beneficial and supportive workplace.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader in the education sector so far?

There is not one story I can really think of. Many may cite their accolades, their scholarship, etc. For me it is the continuous contact with former students (some from 20 years ago), who have stayed in touch and offer to help with mentoring events, my research, as guest speakers. Seeing them successful and driven in their career choices is most rewarding for me. The wonderful and ongoing relationships I have made with colleagues, who are now friends. Even though there can be great satisfaction with running a successful department, I believe most faculty know their true reasons for going into academia, and that is our students.

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