In an age that seems to advocate fervently for strong women leaders, Dean Karen Van Norman, the associate vice president and dean of students, stands as one of SHU’s strong leaders, having been voted the 2018 Emma G. Quartaro Woman of the Year.
Both colleagues and students alike have gotten to know Van Norman through her immense involvement in various organizations throughout the University.
Van Norman said she is honored by the award.
“So many wonderful women at Seton Hall have received this award and I am truly humbled to be counted among them,” she said. “The fact that this award has recently been named for Dr. Quartaro makes the award even more special.”
Dr. Emma G. Quartaro was a professor of social work who died last year. She and her Gerontology Advisory Board are credited for the continuation of the Woman of the Year award, which commemorates women on campus who work tirelessly for the University.
In her time here since 2006, Van Norman has held many leadership positions that have positively impacted the community. She has supervised many areas within the Division of Student Affairs, working with colleagues who are dedicated to the success of the students.
She is the deputy coordinator of the Title IX compliance and, in this position, handles the University’s sexual assault, harassment and discrimination cases, as well as others. This role requires a great deal of work as Van Norman has to keep up with policies and procedures, as well as federal and national changes to the law.
In the spirit of her work with Title IX, Van Norman supervises efforts to inform students about sexual assault and to discourage sexual violence.
To Van Norman, there is always time to help students.
Robin Cunningham, associate vice president and dean of Freshman Studies, said, “She [Van Norman] is 100 percent dedicated to the wellbeing of all our students.”
Dr. Tracy Gottlieb, vice president for Student Services, added, “While some people work from 9 to 5, Dean Van Norman is always on call. She is the first one to work in the morning and the last one to go home.”
According to her colleagues, Van Norman’s other outstanding qualities include her organizational skills and foresight.
Cunningham said she has the ability to plan ahead and have back-up plans, should problems arise. Such characteristics are integral in her position, especially in planning the Pirate Adventures.
Violet Reed, a junior English major, described Van Norman as extremely warm, kind, inquisitive, and diplomatic. In her time working with Van Norman, especially for SGA elections, she has been inspired to become a better leader. Van Norman is currently serving as the SGA’s advisor.
Reed recalled a time when Van Norman’s compassionate nature shined.
During SGA’s last town hall, another student explained his experience with Van Norman to Reed. He recounted a few instances when she went above and beyond to help him, one of them involving a sewing kit and a last minute fix before senior pictures.
“Simply put, Dean Van Norman is the kind of person who can run a department, but still find time to bust out the sewing kit for you,” Reed said.
“She’s my Woman of the Year, and now she is Seton Hall’s Woman of the Year as well,” Gottlieb said. “It’s a great thing.”