Catherine Campbell, PhD, an associate dean at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), spent five years pursuing a doctorate degree. She sacrificed her social life and spent endless nights studying in her home office in Medford.
“It was a personal goal of mine to get this degree,” said Campbell. “I just worked all the time but it was worth it because I love learning.”
She began working on her doctorate in 1999, taking classes in the evenings and on weekends. She studied while caring for her three daughters, ages 16, 19 and 21.
Her perseverance paid off.
Campbell received a doctorate in computer and information science during NJIT’s May 26 graduation at the Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford.
How was she able to balance schoolwork with the demands of family life and work?
“I didn’t have much of a social life,” she said. “Education is a wonderful thing. It’s much better and more interesting than any TV program I’ve ever seen. Working on my PhD was a burden that was always there, but it was enjoyable at the same time. The more education you have the better off you are.”
Campbell did her dissertation on how to negotiate software requirements in an asynchronous collaborative environment. Her research had to do with individuals working together, from different places and at different times, who were trying to establish guidelines for a new information system. The research also focused on emergency management, in which responders collaborate to find a common ground for creating a new information system that would be used by firefighters, police and public utility companies to achieve more efficient response in a crisis.
Her family was supportive, she said, and studying in her free time made Campbell feel like she was setting a good example for her daughters. Having a room of her own – an office in her house – also helped. In her office is a computer that only she is allowed to touch. She worked there, on that computer, early in the morning and at night.
Getting her doctorate also advanced her career at NJIT. When she completed her dissertation in January, she was promoted from assistant dean to associate dean of the College of Computing Sciences at NJIT.
The college, established on July 1, 2001, is one of six at NJIT. The college symbolizes NJIT's desire to make computing a centerpiece of its educational activities in the 21st century. Its mission is to bring education in a broad range of computing disciplines to students on campus and at a distance, to carry out cutting-edge computing research and to work closely with industry. As the first college of its kind in New Jersey, the college builds on three decades of computing education and research at NJIT. Students have access to more than 1,000 on-campus computers ranging from current model PCs to high-end graphics workstations.
Her job as Associate Dean is interesting and demanding, but for Campbell, her children come first.
She is proud of her three daughters: one who will be a junior at Shawnee High School; a second who will be a sophomore at Princeton University, and a third will be a senior at The College of New Jersey.
“For me, my children are what life is all about,” Campbell said. “My first role is as a mother and then comes education and work. But because they were so supportive, I was somehow able to balance all three.”
Campbell has a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering technology from Temple University, Philadelphia, and a master’s in computer science from the University of Dundee, Scotland.