Carol A. Hawkes Western Connecticut State University Founding Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts

(retired...sort of)

Grew Up In:  NYC, Chicago, Detroit--I ended up going to 7 different elementary schools, that’s how much we moved around. I got my Bachelor’s from Barnard and went on for a Master’s and a PhD in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia.

Now Live In:  Danbury, CT.

When I was 21, I thought I would be:  a teacher

Describe your professional career:  Exciting, intensely rewarding, and everything I expected it would be. It’s still going strong.

What are you up to now?  I’ve been retired now for a little over a year as the Founding Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts of Western Connecticut State University. I still have an office there and continue to serve as an advisor because we’re going through a re-accreditation.

Who have been your role models and/or mentors:  I don’t think I had one mentor per se, but I had teachers who were fine examples and several important people who influenced me throughout my career. If I had to name one, however, it would be a great aunt of mine who was pioneer lawyer in the early 1900’s.  Juries couldn’t keep their mind on what she was saying because of what she would wear in the court room, and male colleagues from her firm often had to plead cases for her.  These stories always struck me because, throughout my career, it has never really occurred to me that I’m a woman performing in a certain job. I just had the right skill, and I was the best person for the job...that’s all.

My dream job would be: In one way or another I think I’ve had them everywhere I’ve ever been. I’ve loved every job I’ve ever had, come to think of it.

My nightmare job would be: Anyplace where I couldn’t work with ideas. I’m at my best when I’m making or turning ideas into reality.

You’ve had an amazing career, what’s a highlight for you?  Wow, that’s a tough one because each of my positions has brought special challenges. I started my career at Finch College, which back in the '70s was an upper east side NYC independent college of 500 women. Imagine a college like that existing today!  Years later I became the first non-founder president of Endicott College in MA and took it from a 2-year to a 4-year institution. That was quite a ride!  And, most recently, bringing identity, structure and operation of a totally new school to a public university has been very rewarding.  It’s tough to call out one experience over another as each was so different. But what links them all is the fact that I was always, always, in positions where I was fulfilling my passion to make learning available. And, not coincidentally, in each of these positions I was in many respects a student myself. Always learning and building new ways to strengthen the organizations.

Best piece of professional advice I was ever given:  Simply try to find out where to make the best use of my skills and enjoy what I do; everything else will fall into place.

Advice you might give to the women coming behind you in your career: Don’t spend too much time worrying about whether you can do this or that particular job, but research where the needs are and if your skills serve the needs, that’s where you should go...you might surprise yourself where you land. 

Best book(s) read in the last year: I read the New York Times and I’m a PBS watcher and listener, faithfully, and I’m a voracious reader of detective stories!

One thing that most people don’t know about me:  Gosh, how do I know if they don’t know?  Ok, I’ll be serious. Maybe that I don’t read serious things or do serious things all the time. I love to travel and I love to take it easy. Does this qualify?

My Boston Club Moment: I’m in Connecticut now, so don’t get to participate in Club activities like I used to, but I used to love the lunches for new members. The Boston Club makes it so easy to network with professional women and I love that aspect of membership.