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New Rocky ADSL Fung-Janardhan talks mental health in interview

Students eating dinner in Rockefeller College dining hall
Mathey College dining hall.
Benjamin Ball / The Daily Princetonian

On Feb. 25, Monica Fung-Janardhan was named successor to Amy Ham Johnson as Rockefeller College’s new Assistant Dean for Student Life (ADSL). Johnson left her role as ADSL to become the University’s Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Students. 

Fung-Janardhan recently sat down for an interview with The Daily Princetonian, where she discussed her belief in higher education administration that “recognize[s] that we’re humans first, to acknowledge and validate and recognize what the student is going through.”


“I don’t necessarily know what baggage you have. You don’t necessarily know what baggage I have,” she said. “So I think it’s really important that we go in with open minds.”

Fung-Janardhan previously worked at Champlain College in Vermont in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Before that, she was a member of a Champlain team that was responsible for crisis management and emergency response for students, ranging from students’ mental health concerns to facilities issues.

“[In crisis situations], I really try to look at the student very holistically. I think that it’s really important that we are, as ADSLs, flexible and adaptable to who our audiences are,” she said.

Assistant Deans for Student Life are often students’ first administrative point of contact for wellness concerns and work as “primary case managers in crisis situations.”

Fung-Janardhan also acknowledged that, in her role, she “seek[s] to understand” the “generational challenges” facing students of today, including navigating increasing mental health concerns among young adults and destigmatizing the conversation surrounding mental health. She also cited changes in the job landscape as another challenge that current students experience. 

While serving as an administrator for the last nine years, Fung-Janardhan has a “non-traditional background coming into higher education,” she said. 


“The end goal was actually never higher education. I was a pre-med student. I studied epidemiology,” said Fung-Janardhan, who has an undergraduate degree in public health from Rutgers University. After graduation, she worked at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Fung-Janardhan added that many of the skills she developed from working in the healthcare industry were transferable to her work in higher education since both fields are very, in her words, “quick-paced environments.” Additionally, she said that her background in public health was helpful in navigating changes to college student life during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as “different facets of career goals and career paths.”

Fung-Janardhan’s second role at Champlain College was in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, where she “worked with a lot of our marginalized minority students in creating recruitment and retention programs.” More informally, she hoped to create a “home away from home [for minority students],” as Champlain College is a predominantly white institution.  She hopes to incorporate the values of “intersectional inclusivity,” equity, and student empowerment in her role as ADSL. 

As a New Jersey native who grew up not far from Princeton in the township of South Brunswick, Fung-Janardhan is excited to be closer to family. Although the transition from Vermont has been a little hectic, she says that she is glad to expose her young son to the cultural diversity of this area.

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So far, “everyone has been so welcoming and accepting,” she said. “I’m just really looking forward to getting engrossed into [this] community.”

Sofia Arora is a staff News writer for the ‘Prince.’

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