College News, Dean News

Highly Accomplished CUNY Educator Will Lead the College Through its Next Stage of Excellence and Transformation

Macaulay Honors College is thrilled to announce that Dr. Dara N. Byrne has been appointed Dean after an extensive national search and approval by the CUNY Board of Trustees.

Dr. Byrne brings two decades of experience as a professor, researcher and administrator to the role. Since 2016, she has served as Associate Provost for Undergraduate Retention and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at John Jay College, one of Macaulay’s consortial campuses. There, she led 15 departments and oversaw the academic success of 13,000 students. Byrne developed student-focused initiatives that are credited with boosting the college’s graduation rate by 16% in five years. Most notably, she raised more than $15 million to support those programs.

“All of us at Macaulay are happy to welcome Dara back to our community,” said Joseph Ugoretz, Macaulay’s Chief Academic Officer.   “We know from our past work together that she is deeply committed to experiential learning and student success. As we enter our third decade, we’re excited about the future we will meet with her.”

The incoming Dean has a long association with Macaulay, playing a pivotal leadership role in its 2012 expansion. At that time, John Jay joined the Macaulay consortium of senior campuses, and Byrne was tapped to launch the program. She then served as its Director for three years.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve as the next Macaulay Dean,” Byrne said. “My enthusiasm for its extraordinary community of students, faculty, staff, and the Macaulay foundation board grows out of my experience launching and directing Macaulay at John Jay. A decade later — which also marks my twentieth year at CUNY — this is truly a full-circle moment. Returning to Macaulay is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help steer our world-class public honors college through its next stage of access, excellence and transformation.”

“Dr. Byrne’s experience as an administrator, fundraiser, and academic are exactly what Macaulay needs to lead it into the next phase of its growth,” said Macaulay Foundation Board Chair Anthony E. Meyer.

Byrne, who holds a Ph.D. in rhetoric and intercultural communication from Howard University, joined John Jay as an assistant professor in the Department of Speech, Theater and Media Studies in 2003. In 2009, she was a recipient of John Jay’s first Distinguished Teaching Prize. Her research spans the social sciences and she has published widely on civil rights history, including a 2005 book she edited, “The Unfinished Agenda of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March,” which is housed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Byrne exemplifies the philosophy of lifelong learning and growth: Even as she balances the demands of her work as a high-ranking administrator and prepares for her new role at Macaulay, this summer she will finish a Master’s in emergency management at John Jay.

She joins a group of CUNY Presidents and Deans whose diverse backgrounds and experiences reflect that of the University and New York City. Her appointment brings to 14 the number of permanent leaders of CUNY colleges or professional schools to be installed since Chancellor Matos Rodríguez began his tenure three years ago. She will assume the role on August 1, 2022—from Dr. Vanessa K. Valdés, who served for a year in an interim role—to become the college’s fourth Dean. She succeeds Mary C. Pearl, who served as Macaulay’s Dean from 2016 to 2021.