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New Continuing Studies Dean Favors Jesuit Tradition, Community Engagement

JUNE 30, 2014 – THE NEW DEAN OF GEORGETOWN’S School of Continuing Studies (SCS), who starts leading the school tomorrow, says she was drawn to the university because “it fosters innovative work and the implementation of that work on the larger society.”

“The culture at Georgetown, with its history of the Jesuit tradition, research, its faculty, its community engagement, provide a foundation for what are some of the most important contexts for continuing and professional education,” says Kelly Otter, associate dean, graduate academic and faculty affairs at Northeastern University since 2012.

“I am eager to take on this role of dean of SCS because I will have the opportunity to be more impactful in a field to which I am deeply committed and in which so much work needs to be done,” she adds.

Otter previously served as associate dean in the University of Pittsburgh's College of General Studies.


“In our line of work we’re just as accountable to the external community as we are to our student,” says the Livonia, Michigan, native. “So to be able to work within the context of an institution like Georgetown and its tradition will make our work thrive and really optimize our chances to be successful.”

Otter, who holds a Ph.D. in arts and humanities education from New York University, says SCS already has a strong faculty upon which she hopes to build.

“I think that when we support faculty, empowering them with different types of teaching resources to help them adapt to the new learning needs of the students, faculty find each other and they become our creative energy,” she explains. “In addition to doing our research dutifully, understanding what the job trends are, emerging needs in our society and our economy, we need to empower faculty with expertise and allow them to tell us what learning needs are emerging and what the students need.”

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia says Otter “brings a wealth of experience in academic program development and oversight, as well as in technology-enhanced and nontraditional learning environments.”


Otter also says that each continuing education program developed “must have at its core the mission of making a positive impact on society.”

“We will do well by doing good,” she adds. “The very mission of continuing education is to provide access to high quality education for diverse populations of learners.”

At Northeastern, Otter established an academic governance structure that led to the creation of two new degree programs in one year and hired 10 new professors.


Otter hopes to create the same kind of support for faculty at SCS.

“I have the privilege of joining an extremely talented team of staff and faculty and some extremely motivated students who I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with,” she says. “So we have a high-functioning organizational structure on which to build. And that’s exciting.”

Otter is married to Rick Pieto, a Northeastern faculty member who teaches communications courses. The couple has two children, Tyler Cooper, 20, who will be a second-term sophomore psychology major in Georgetown College this fall, and Lucia Pieto, 13.