Dr. Karen Bacon ’64S, was the valedictorian of her graduating class and went on to receive a PhD in microbiology from UCLA, where she was a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Fellow and a United States Public Health Service Doctoral Trainee. She subsequently taught at the University of Indiana and Yeshiva College, YU’s undergraduate college for men, before assuming the deanship of Stern College in 1977, the first woman to occupy that role. Under her leadership, the college has experienced a period of remarkable growth, during which time the faculty grew, enrollment almost doubled, and academic programs, services and facilities expanded. Today, Bacon is the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Stern College for Women.
1. What did you do before you joined YU as a faculty member/administrator?
I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Biology Department of Indiana University in Bloomington.
2. What is your favorite aspect of your job at YU?
I enjoy meeting one-on-one with students, discussing ideas and education with faculty and finding solutions to interesting problems.
3. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would have loved to have trained as either a photographer or a craftsman working with wood.
4. What was your goal as a professor, and what is your goal as dean of Stern College?
As a professor, I tried to communicate how understanding science enriches our religious experience as well as our ability to successfully navigate a world increasingly driven by science and technology. As dean, my goals are to support and encourage the faculty, to motivate the students to grow strong and reach high, and to be responsible to our supporters, who are counting on us to educate women committed to a Torah way of life.
5. What would your current and former YU students be surprised to learn about you?
I love reading expressively to our grandchildren and am currently deep into a Samurai series that I punctuate with intricate hand movements and deep-throated growls.