Sunday with Dean Herrmann

  Nira Herrmann
    Nira Herrmann

Nira Herrmann is the Dean of Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and splits her time between the Pleasantville and New York City campuses.  A statistician by training, Dean Herrmann was the head of the department of mathematics and computer science at Drexel University in Pennsylvania before joining Pace in 2004.  Her family is spread across several time zones, so on the weekends Dean Herrmann catches up with family by phone or online video chat.  She and her husband, Ted, a professor at Rutgers University, met at a pizza party during their third week in grad school.  They live in New Jersey.

We asked Dean Herrmann to tell us about how she spends her time on Sundays.  Does she work? Find time to unwind and relax?  Here’s a glimpse of her Sunday routine.

STAY UP LATE:  I’m a night owl, so Sundays usually start for me at midnight on Saturday.  On weekends I can indulge my natural timetable and sleep in the next day!  I’m usually on my computer, replying to emails or reading interesting articles that I did not have time to read during the week.  I find I’m at my most creative in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep, so  I do a lot of writing at that time.

CONNECTED:  I have two daughters both of whom live in earlier time zones, but only the one who lives in California shares my night owl habits.  Often upon returning home from an evening out, she’ll text or invite me to join her in a online video chat.  We’ll talk or type until I get too tired and say I’m going to bed.

LATTE AND MULTITASKING:  In the morning, I always shower and dress, first thing, then go downstairs to make my morning latte.  I rarely eat breakfast—morning is just too early for food.  I read the Sunday New York Times standing at the island counter in my kitchen while watching the Sunday news shows and drinking my latte.  I will also take a stab at the Sunday crossword puzzle, which spends most of the week on the kitchen island, as I work my way through it, a few clues at a time.  Occasionally, I sail through the crossword in a couple of hours, and then feel bereft the rest of the week that it isn’t waiting for me when I get home from work.

MORE TIME ZONES:  When I’m home on Sunday, I call my dad.  Since he lives in Jerusalem, this means keeping track of the time difference—usually 7 hours, except when daylight savings time gets us out of sync for a few weeks.  I try to call late enough that it is after dinner for him, but early enough that he has the energy to talk—he is definitely not a night owl!

HOME GYM:  My biggest challenge on the weekend is getting exercise.  I can get absorbed in work and end up sitting at the computer or standing to read the NY Times for too much of the day.  Fortunately I have a treadmill and an elliptical in the family room, so in theory, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” should stay me from completing my appointed rounds of exercise.  But putting this into practice is not as routine as I would like.

COOKING FOR LEFT OVERS:  I like to cook on the weekend.  This weekend, I made carrot and ginger soup and roasted beet salad with mandarin orange slices that I eat with a Trader Joe’s muscat champagne vinegar.  I also made pumpkin butter—guess I was in an orange-colored mood, food wise!

If I am home all day, I prefer to make dinner the “big meal” since it was always the main meal in my home, growing up, a time when all seven of us (my parents, sisters and me) would gather together.  It is a tradition I carried forward as a working mother, since dinner was the time we were all home together.

I’ve learned that the trade-off between variety each night and convenience when I get home late from Pace has tipped the balance toward convenience.  So I cook as if I still have a large family at home and save the extra to eat during the week.  I have learned to love left-overs!

SECOND LATTE AND PRESSING ISSUES:  In the evening, I have my second latte of the day and after dinner I often end up on the phone with a colleague from the Dean’s Office to work out the details of whatever is the most pressing issue.  Right now, it is preparing our budget request for next year and working out the details of hiring new faculty who will start at Pace next September. 

POWER UP:  By 10:00 pm, I am thinking of all I could have gotten done this weekend and choose one last item to push forward.  I try to unpack my briefcase and return only the paperwork I will actually need the next day.  I have ritualized recharging all my equipment overnight: two cell phones, my iPad and my laptop.  I understand that overcharging the batteries limits their lifespan, but as with leftovers, I have decided that this method works best for me and I will replace any dying batteries when needed.  So far, this has not been a major problem—the batteries seem to last as long as the devices.

POWER DOWN:  By 2:00 am I tell myself, this is it.  Whatever is not already done will have to get done during the week, and I head upstairs to bed.  My husband, another family member who is not a night owl, is usually asleep already.  He likes the early morning hours and I know I can rely on him to wake me if I accidentally hit snooze once too often on my alarm clock.