As a child, Kathy Merget aspired to be a gym teacher. Now, as the Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, her goal is to heighten the awareness and practice of wellness and self-care for more than 2,200 students, focusing on making a difference and how mise en place translates to their daily life.
Merget joined the CIA after a chance encounter with one of the school’s instructors led her to slowly transition out of her first career as a therapist working primarily with women, specializing in weight management issues. In 1994, she left her role as an adjunct graduate psychology instructor at Marist College and signed on as one of 12 new faculty members responsible for building the structure of the CIA’s bachelor program. Seven years later, she stepped up as the Dean of Liberal Arts and Business Management at the college. She transitioned in 2015 to her current role, where she oversees housing, campus life, health services, counseling and psychological services, student conduct, athletics, and wellness.
What is your advice to the next generation?
“Be curious, be confident, and be kind.”
“As much as I feel incredibly blessed, I also never let go of the challenges and goals ahead of me,” says Merget, who has a master’s degree and a PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology, and a master’s degree in community/counseling psychology.
At the CIA and in the community, Merget makes a point to get involved. On campus, she is a founding member of the Women in Leadership group and has served as both regional coordinator and institutional representative for the Mid-Hudson Association of Women in Higher Education. For the past two years, she’s been the New York State chair for the American Council on Education Women’s Network. A Pleasantville native, Merget lives in Highland, and is also a member of the Board of Directors of Vassar Brothers Medical Center.