With deep sadness, we share the heartbreaking news of the death of our great friend and colleague Vice President Judy Aaron, who passed away on August 13, 2020 from complications following a heart attack. Today, we mourn the loss of an enthusiastic higher education leader who was one of Pratt’s strongest champions and builders for a full quarter of the Institute’s prestigious history.
The welcoming face of Pratt Institute to prospective students and their families for three decades, Judy Aaron became Vice President for Enrollment in 1991, after having served as Pratt’s Associate Dean and Dean of Professional Studies beginning in 1987.
Judy assumed leadership of Pratt’s enrollment operations under former President Warren Ilchman, at a time when the Institute had been experiencing financial difficulties and was thought of primarily as a local commuter school. Over the next quarter century, Judy’s personal drive and intuition combined with former President Thomas F. Schutte’s vision to increase Pratt’s national and international enrollment and its ranking among the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD).
“I felt that Pratt had all the makings for being a national institution,” Schutte said in a 2017 interview. “Judy Aaron, who had just joined Admissions, and I together determined that we were going to create a national student body. And we did.” Judy continued to expand enrollment internationally, as well, and worked to attract a more diverse and inclusive student community, through recruitment of high school students from New York City’s public schools.
Before coming to Pratt, Judy was Director of Continuing Education and Director of Special Services for Disadvantaged Students at York College, as well as Research Coordinator and Coordinator of Continuing Education in CUNY’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis.
She published articles and books on the subjects of bilingual and women’s education, and housing preservation and development. She presented at conferences on the use of geodemography in admissions and retention research, as well as social media in admissions recruitment.
Judy will be remembered for her wry wit, candor, drive and style. She will also be remembered for her warm care for the students. “Judy was a true champion of Pratt students and the student experience,” Vice President for Student Affairs Helen Matusow-Ayres remembers. “She took her responsibility for bringing them to Pratt seriously and was instrumental in facilitating the success of thousands of our alumni over the course of her career.”
We are the grateful beneficiaries of her personal dedication to strengthening and growing the Pratt community, professionalizing its marketing and enrollment systems, leading searches for innovative administrators and faculty, working tirelessly to support chairs and deans, and, most of all, promoting the Institute as a welcoming place for collaboration and creative inspiration.
“Judy’s energy, perseverance, and deep intelligence about the qualities of the Institute anchored her indefatigable dedication,” President Frances Bronet remarked in her letter to the community. “Her love for Pratt was irresistible and it created a landscape of passion amongst her colleagues and our students. It is no wonder that, with Judy as its front door, Pratt thrived. She was renowned nationally as a giant in the field. It was an extraordinary honor to work with Judy.”
Judy Aaron Tribute Scholarship Fund
Additionally, Pratt has established a scholarship fund so that we may collectively encourage the next generations of Pratt students in Judy’s name. Please visit the Judy Aaron Tribute Scholarship Fund to give in her honor.
The Pratt community will gather to celebrate and remember Judy on Wednesday, October 14 at 6:30 PM on Zoom. To register to attend, please visit https://giving.pratt.edu/events/judy-aaron-memorial-service.
The Counseling Center is available to students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Appointments and inquiries can be made at 718-687-5451. Faculty and staff can seek support through Human Resources. Inquiries and appointments can be scheduled at 718-636-6787.
We offer our deepest condolences to Judy’s husband, Mitch; her daughter, Ally; her son, Ben; her family, friends, colleagues, and all those whom she loved.