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Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw: Inspiring Educational Leaders Worldwide


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Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw holds the esteemed position of Dean at The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art at The Catholic University of America. Her illustrious journey in higher education commenced in the 1980s at a modest community college in Southern Maryland. As she pursued her doctoral studies at the renowned Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, a profound passion for cultivating advanced learning in others began to take root. Starting from humble beginnings, she steadily advanced through the ranks, eventually becoming an accomplished tenured professor.

Throughout her transformative journey, Jacqueline wholeheartedly embraced administrative roles, ultimately assuming the pivotal position of Chair of the Music Department at a liberal arts college in the south. It was in this capacity that she discovered her true calling: a deep-seated commitment to higher education administration. Presently, as Dean, she continues to embody an unwavering commitment to excellence. Jacqueline inspires her colleagues to strive for teaching excellence and empowers students to reach their utmost potential. In the realm of higher education, Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw shines as a beacon of inspiration.

Multifaceted Responsibilities and Visionary Leadership

In her role as the founding Dean of the School of Music, Drama, and Art at The Catholic University of America, Jacqueline assumes a pivotal and multifaceted position. She serves as the school’s chief executive and academic officer, overseeing a wide range of responsibilities. Her purview encompasses all aspects of school operations, including managing academic programs, student enrollment, budgetary oversight, fundraising efforts, facilities management, personnel matters, and cultivating crucial relationships with the Board of Visitors and government entities.

Jacqueline’s role carries significant responsibility, reporting directly to the provost and bearing the weight of ensuring the school’s educational, financial, and administrative affairs run smoothly. Under her visionary leadership, she develops strategic academic business plans and identifies future initiatives to advance the school’s mission and goals. Her dedication extends beyond growth; it encompasses the creation of a positive work and learning environment. She prioritizes the well-being and development of faculty, staff, and students alike, underscoring her commitment to the comprehensive success of The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art.

Jacqueline’s Vision of Ideal Educational Leadership

Jacqueline believes that the essence of an ideal educational leader lies in their embodiment of servant leadership principles. In her view, this leadership philosophy places a strong emphasis on serving the community rather than asserting authority. Such a leader prioritizes the growth and well-being of others within the educational institution.

At the core of Jacqueline’s vision of ideal leadership is humility. An educational leader should not wield authority for its own sake but should approach their role with humility, understanding that their primary mission is to support and empower others. They should not seek the spotlight but instead, work diligently behind the scenes to ensure the success of the entire community.

Effective communication is a key quality in Jacqueline’s view. She emphasizes the importance of establishing open and transparent lines of communication within the institution. A successful leader actively listens to the concerns and ideas of others, fostering a culture of dialogue and collaboration. Through effective communication, they address management matters and personnel issues with empathy and understanding.

From Inception to Innovation: The Evolution of the Rome School

The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, established in June 2018, represents transformative change within The Catholic University of America’s visual and performing arts landscape. Its creation marked a historic moment as it merged the previously distinct departments of Drama and Art with the School of Music, ushering in a new era of collaboration and unity across all aspects of the arts.

At the core of The Rome School’s offerings are diverse arrays of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, complemented by interdisciplinary experiences spanning the arts spectrum. Undergraduate and graduate music degrees cover a range of disciplines, including voice, piano, orchestral instruments, musical theatre, sacred music, and composition. An intriguing dual degree program in music and business prepares undergraduates for a future in music administration, blending artistic passion with practical acumen.

In the realm of Drama, students can pursue a highly sought-after BFA in Acting for Theatre, Film, and Television, showcasing the school’s commitment to fostering talent across various performance platforms. Meanwhile, the Art department offers a BA in Art and Design, allowing students to select from diverse concentrations, including 3D Animation and Character Design, Graphic Design and Illustration, Sacred Art and Social Practice, and Drawing and Painting.

Adapting to Changing Student Needs

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, the admissions process has witnessed significant transformations in student requirements. Jacqueline, a forward-thinking educational leader, acknowledges these changes and has responded with strategic adjustments to meet the evolving needs of prospective students.

One notable shift is in the realm of interpersonal communication. Students now seek personalized and meaningful interactions with institutions. They value genuine connections that address their unique aspirations and concerns. This demand for personalized engagement places a premium on institutions that excel in building these relationships.

Financial considerations have also taken center stage. Scholarships and financial aid packages have become pivotal factors in a student’s decision-making process. Offering competitive scholarship awards can be a decisive factor in attracting and retaining top talent.

In the digital age, information accessibility is paramount. Prospective students expect ready access to comprehensive information about programs, faculty, campus life, and more. Meeting this expectation through easily available online resources has become a cornerstone of successful recruitment efforts.

In response to these shifting requirements, Jacqueline has made strategic changes within the institute. By redefining the role of the Student Engagement Specialist to focus on both recruiting new students and ensuring the retention of enrolled students throughout their academic journey, she has equipped the institution to effectively address the dynamic landscape of student recruitment.

The Power of Family and Professional Success

Jacqueline’s approach to maintaining work-life balance serves as a commendable model for personal well-being and professional success. She places significant emphasis on this balance, recognizing its paramount importance for both physical and mental health.

For Jacqueline, the cornerstone of her work-life balance is her commitment to family. She takes on multiple roles as a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend. These relationships form the bedrock of her personal life, infusing it with essential elements such as joy, humor, faith, and unwavering support. By actively nurturing and cherishing these connections, she creates a harmonious synergy between her professional and personal spheres.

By prioritizing her family alongside her career, Jacqueline underscores the significance of maintaining a holistic and fulfilling life. Her ability to strike this balance not only serves as a source of personal happiness but also enhances her effectiveness and resilience in her role as the Dean of the institute.

Guiding Principles for Aspiring Educational Leaders

Jacqueline imparts invaluable advice to aspiring educational leaders who aim to make a meaningful impact in the field. Her wisdom centers around several fundamental principles.

First and foremost is the concept of servant leadership. Jacqueline underscores the importance of shifting the focus away from one’s own interests and firmly placing it on the needs of others. This approach involves building strong, cohesive teams of professionally satisfied employees. It fosters a positive work environment and encourages high-quality, efficient contributions from team members.

Effective communication is another cornerstone of Jacqueline’s guidance. New leaders should develop their communication skills, particularly when addressing challenging personnel matters. The ability to have candid yet empathetic conversations is essential for resolving issues and nurturing a harmonious work environment. Jacqueline’s emphasis on open dialogue and constructive feedback can pave the way for successful leadership.

By embracing these qualities, emerging leaders can navigate the complexities of educational leadership and create a lasting positive impact on their institutions and the individuals they lead.


ALSO READ: The 10 Inspiring Education Leaders, October 2023



The Educational landscape is changing dynamically. The new generation of students thus faces the daunting task to choose an institution that would guide them towards a lucrative career.

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