Rachel Carpenter: Stepping into a New Position


Courtesy of Rachel Carpenter

Dean Carpenter took students with her on a weekend hike. A graduate student commented to Carpenter that experiences like these made her an accessible leader, a leader who is accessible and appropriately shares parts of their life and their personality.

Katie Walsh, Managing Editor

A mystery question appeared on campus among students, staff, and faculty, ‘What do we call the new interim Dean? Dean Carpenter or Dean Rachel?’

Rachel Carpenter took over the position as the Dean for Students on August 1st following her predecessor Lisa Bardill Moscaritolo. Bardill Moscaritolo was called Dean Lisa by the students and in Carpenter’s previous position of Director of Student Development Campus Activity, she was known as Rachel. 

However, Carpenter ultimately determined that she wanted to be called Dean Carpenter for two reasons.

“People called Dean Lisa, Lisa because they couldn’t pronounce her last name,” Carpenter said. “My last name is Carpenter, it’s very easy. More importantly… It seems that women who are in positions of leadership tend to be referred to by their first name. And men who are in a position of leadership tend to be referred to by their last name and from that perspective of women in leadership, I wanted to be called Carpenter.”  

The new Dean has been a face at Pace for 10 years and her promotion to interim Dean was another step to eventually fulfilling the goal of becoming a president at a small university. 

Although she may only be on day 64 of the job, Carpenter has held a position of interim Dean in the past. During the spring semester of 2015, Dean Lisa had taken a sabbatical and Carpenter had taken her place. The experience and qualifications Carpenter racked up led her to become Dean Lisa’s choice to take over the position. 

“Anytime that a senior leader like Dean Lisa leaves, the university has to conduct or usually does conduct a national search. National Searches can take… six to 10 months. And so in the interim, universities name somebody to kind of hold the ship together,” Carpenter explained.

Over the summer, Carpenter and Bardill Moscaritolo met countless times to go over the job position and what it entails. Carpenter used her love for calendars and strength of organization as a way to inform herself of what to expect month-by-month.

“I went through her calendar for an entire year, so I wrote down every meeting that she had, every committee that she served on, every task that she had in there and that created our list of in October,” Carpenter said. “What do you normally do? In November, what do you normally do?” 

Carpenter hit the ground running in her new position and has high hopes for the future. However, she does acknowledge the roadblocks that are in her way.

“Here’s the challenge of being an interim position, it’s not that you can’t make wide-sweeping changes, but you don’t want to go down the route of a huge change that if someone else is hired to do the… permanent job, would they be on board with it?” Carpenter said. 

Despite that, Carpenter is still working on a multitude of projects to help increase the spirit of Pace and focalize on students and their well-being. One of Carpenter’s current projects is creating a well-being committee of faculty, staff, and students. Currently, there is a group for faculty and staff, but not one for students. 

In fact, Carpenter is sharing one of her practices for her own well-being with students of hiking. During the month of September, Carpenter organized two hikes with the Dean and took a variety of different students on the trip. Carpenter invested in hiking last April because of her love for the outdoors and backpacking. She and her husband have been completing two to three hikes a week of at least four miles and have done up to 10 miles.

“It has helped me with my fitness and it’s also helped me with my well-being like my mindfulness and my stress management and I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with students because I think mental health and well-being are important and everybody does it differently,” Carpenter stated. 

Carpenter received positive feedback on her hikes and said that students were able to take a mental break from everything else and only focus on the hike because of the challenge it presented them with. The Dean hopes to continue hikes throughout the rest of the semester and is meeting with students to discuss possible dates for the upcoming months. 

In addition, Carpenter and the Provost are working together to fine-tune Pace University by listening to the students. Carpenter is attending about 15 different student organizations to find out the pluses of the university and the important issues that need to be fixed that are causing students to transfer out of Pace. Furthermore, Carpenter wants to increase the spirit, traditions, and leadership among students at the university. 

While Carpenter spends most of her days on the job or hiking, she also recently finished her doctorate courses and passed her comprehensive exam. Now, she is writing her dissertation to attain her doctorate in Management. In addition, she is an avid traveler and grew up in a military family, meaning she and her family moved to a variety of different places every two years.

Every location has meant something different and has impacted her in a profound way. Pace is one of those places that leaves an impact on her life and has presented experiences that shaped her as a person and as a leader.

“This is going to sound corny, but I think it’s just who I am, but it does mean opportunity,” Carpenter said. “As you know our motto is opportunitas, but I think about who I was when I got here in 2010 and who I am now,  Pace has given me the opportunity to lead, to learn, to go to school, get my doctorate, to specialize in student learning and assessments and has given me the opportunity to do this job.”

Every night Carpenter reflects on her position and her days as the interim dean. She writes one screen worth of notes on her phone each day before she goes to bed, documenting the good and the bad. Thus, it gives her something to look back on when this part of the journey ends, it creates documentation of patterns and trends for her to look back on and determine what she liked and what she didn’t enjoy about the job.

However, Carpenter’s favorite part of her job is being able to meet with students and help them in any way she can, whether its to help them be heard and advocate or to teach them how to become a leader. She continues to enjoy interacting with all students and learning their stories of the past and hopes for the future. 

Erika Schmid, Coordinator for Student Affairs, is complimentary towards Dean Carpenter’s work.

“I’ve worked with Dean Carpenter in a different capacity for about 10 months or so. But since she’s taken on the new role of Dean for students, she’s been amazing to work with,” Schmid said. “She’s always very supportive and she’s very involved in our entire Student Affairs Division to make sure we’re all supported and all set up for success.”

In the end, Carpenter is most passionate about making sure students are fulfilled and are able to live a healthy, well-rounded life.

“I would like Pace University to be known as a campus who invests in the well-being of their students,” Carpenter said.  

Rachel Carpenter
Carpenter follows one of her favorite quotes by Jack Welch on a daily basis, “Before you are a leader, success is about developing yourself. After you become a leader, success is about developing others.”