Catherine Kiernan, Esq., who has served the Seton Hall community for over 20 years, has been recognized by NJBIZ as the recipient for a Lifetime Achievement award at its upcoming General Counsel of the Year Awards on May 18.
Kiernan, a graduate of Seton Hall’s Law school, joined the university in 1989 but did not begin serving as general counsel until 1997. Kiernan recounted her early beginnings at the institution and explained her contributions to the community over the years.
“I manage all of the institution’s legal work along with two other attorneys, my assistant and some outside law firms,” Kiernan said. “We try to align our work and prioritize it based on the institution’s priorities. We provide counsel to different administrators that might have an issue – like student affairs with Title IX. It is important to figure out how we balance the institution’s need to comply with laws along with our student’s individual rights under the law.”
Kiernan noted that although it may not be the first thing that comes to mind, the decisions made are always in the best interest of the students.
Kiernan was shocked when she received the call, which informed her she would receive the award. Since the call was on Jan. 19, the 18th anniversary to the infamous Boland Hall fire in 2000, Kiernan thought the person on the other line would deliver something related to the incident.
“As a person, I have never been one for the limelight and here, my work as a counselor is primarily in the background – always providing the best advice I can to empower to people to make the best decision,” Kiernan said. “It’s a lifetime achievement but it’s a lifetime in the life of Seton Hall. It’s 30 years, a generation where we have taken the university one step further and have given back what the university has given to me and all of us. I will share the award with all of my friends and colleagues at the university and be grateful to them for this opportunity.”
Even after receiving the lifetime achievement award, Kiernan remains devoted to helping Seton Hall’s advancement. Kiernan says that in the last year, over 50 percent of her time has been focused on opening the Nutley campus. The facility is anticipated to be 15 minutes from the main campus and a medical school for specific majors.
Interim President Dr. Mary Meehan, had the utmost appreciation when speaking about the significance of Kiernan’s presence at the university.
“I have worked with many attorneys throughout my professional life, and Cathy Kiernan is on top of the list – because of her intelligence, compassion, integrity and professional ethics,” Meehan said. “I respect her judgment and trust her completely. While she is always behind the scenes, I know of no one who has done more for this University. No one is more deserving of this lifetime achievement award.”
Evando Thompson can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.