CUNY names new dean of the Macaulay Honors College



Kayla Aaron

CUNY appointed Dara Byrne, the current associate provost for undergraduate retention and dean of undergraduate students at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as the new dean of Macaulay Honors College.

CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez said Byrne and new Dean of the CUNY Craig Newman Graduate School of Journalism Graciela Mochkofsky “represent the best of CUNY’s new generation of academic leaders” in the June announcement of the appointments.

“Professors Mochkofsky and Byrne, CUNY’s own, have outstanding records of accomplishment and a demonstrated commitment to providing a first-class CUNY education to all students,” CUNY Board of Trustees Chairperson William Thompson Jr. said.

In an email sent to Macaulay students, Byrne said that she has a “genuine desire to help students feel like they belong.”

Byrne, who has a doctorate in rhetoric and intercultural communications, was also a part of the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions’ Aspiring Leaders program.

“I want the students at John Jay to look around and see students, faculty, staff, and leaders that look like them,” Byrne said in an interview with John Jay. “I want them to feel like they belong.”

At John Jay, Byrne was the Honors Program faculty director. When Macaulay launched at John Jay, Byrne served as the founding director for three years.

“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,” Byrne said.

Byrne is hosting a virtual meet-and-greet with Macaulay Student Council President and Baruch student Suha Chaudhury on Sept. 12 and will be available for office hours starting Sept. 19. She told students in her welcome email that she is committed to working with the Honors directors at each campus to find an ideal time to visit.

Byrne took over the role from interim Dean Vanessa Valdés, who has a doctorate in Spanish and Portuguese and served while Macaulay launched its search and interview process for a successor to the previous dean, Mary Pearl. Byrne is the fourth dean of Macaulay Honors College.

Byrne’s previous involvement with CUNY includes attending the CUNY Graduate Center. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center at the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean.

In addition to attending the Graduate Center, she studied at Howard University, John Jay, Carleton University, Rutgers Graduate School, Clark Atlanta University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.