By Michelle Lampariello
As the clock struck midnight on July 1, the campus community experienced a change far more significant than flipping to the next page on the calendar — the date marked the end of former College President R. Barbara Gitenstein’s time as the school’s leader and the beginning of College President Kathryn Foster’s tenure.
As her presidency came to a close, an emotional Gitenstein prepared her Green Hall office for Foster’s arrival. Students, faculty and community members took to social media to wish her well in retirement and thank her for all she has done for the College in her nearly 20 years as president.
“I will miss the daily interaction with the students, faculty and staff,” Gitenstein told The Signal. “TCNJ really is a remarkable community.”
The campus community was happy to welcome Foster when she arrived on campus on Monday, July 2 with a full agenda. Well wishes poured in as her first few days in office were documented on Facebook and Twitter, where she was pictured having her ID picture taken, setting up her office and even enjoying a scoop of ice cream from the local hotspot Halo Farms.
“July is a perfect time to start a new position in higher education,” Foster told The Signal. “The campus tends to be quiet, which gives me a chance to orient myself and start the months-long process of meeting people, deepening my knowledge of the college and asking a lot of questions.”
During her first week in office, Foster placed an emphasis on familiarizing herself with the campus and the students, faculty and staff who bring it to life. She is eager to form strong connections with campus community members similar to those that Gitenstein took pride in.
“The most appealing prospect for my summer is getting to know the TCNJ constituents, both on and off campus and exploring its places,” Foster said. “My list of people to meet in the summer includes employees in all the year-round units — Admissions, Libraries, Building Services and so forth — and the many groups beyond campus, including neighbors, elected officials, alumni, businesses and board members.”
While Foster enters a whirlwind of introductions, new challenges and projects to attend to, Gitenstein has been relieved of her presidential responsibilities for the first time in almost two decades. In addition to spending more time with her family, Gitenstein is excited to focus on new initiatives in higher education.
“I also look forward to continuing to engage as a consultant on issues that challenge higher education today,” Gitenstein said. “I hope that I will be able to invest more time in volunteer activities in areas that I believe are important to the future of our country.”
As she discovers her favorite on-campus locations, reads Jennine Capó Crucet’s “Make Your Home Among Strangers” along with the freshman class as part of the College’s summer reading program and introduces herself to campus constituents, Foster is working to establish a strong foundation for her time as president of the College.
“It’s a journey of a million miles, but I have embarked to get to know you all through your activities and input,” she told The Signal. “Already students have responded kindly to my introductory email and weighed in on Facebook, so my journey of a million miles is officially launched.”