Dr. Karen Pennington, Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life, has announced her plan to retire from Montclair State University effective Jan. 1, 2021.
President Susan A. Cole informed the university of Pennington’s announcement in an email on the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 23, where she also addresses Pennington’s contributions to the university as well as her accomplishments throughout her years of service.
“I have served with Karen [Pennington] by my side for the past 22 years, and I can say with absolute certainty that the university and generations of thousands of students have been the beneficiary of her knowledge, her integrity, her excellent judgment, and her consistent desire always to do the right thing,” Cole stated in the email.
Just like Cole, Pennington has been at Montclair State since 1998. Pennington served the role as a mentor for many students and staff. She also has been an advocate for the university and students while simultaneously working on the growth and development of Montclair State over the years.
In January 2020, Pennington was awarded the Scott Goodnight Award for Outstanding Performance as a Dean from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) which she has earned from students, faculty and fellow administrators for the significant contributions she has made in higher education.
Pennington’s plan to retire was not a new decision and had been discussed before the COVID-19 pandemic forced Montclair State to switch to virtual classes halfway through the 2020 spring semester.
“I originally planned to retire in June of  and changed my plans to retire in December of this year. That decision was made last spring, pre-COVID,” Pennington said. “However, the announcement and plans were put on hold until after we got over the first part of the crisis and got the semester back on schedule.”
Cole in her email announcement emphasized the work that Pennington has done for the school.
“Vice President Pennington is truly deserving of this university’s respect and gratitude for her many years of meaningful service, and I, and I know this community with me, wish her well in the future,” Cole said.
Sean Risch, a senior theater studies major and a member of Team Rocky at Montclair State, says he will miss Pennington.
“We’ll miss her and she was a nice, friendly woman who always came into work with a smile and a can-do attitude,” Risch said.
Michelle Sales, a senior business marketing major, is shocked and suspicious of the announcement of both Cole and Pennington’s retirement.
“So first, I had no idea about [Cole and Pennington’s] retirement. It’s very suspicious, and almost too convenient. I’m not sure if this was already planned, but it seems like they don’t want to be bothered,” Sales said. “One thing is for sure, whoever is appointed for positions have very large shoes to fill. As [Montclair State’s] students and staff have very high expectations. Therefore, this news of their retirement is very shocking, and quite concerning.”
The university is conducting a national search this fall semester for Pennington’s successor.