As the third president of the County College of Morris, Iacono has been active in seeking partnerships to promote career education. In August, the college teamed up with the Morris County Board of Commissioners and the Morris County Vocational School district to create a Career Technical Education Center and Entrepreneurship and Culinary Science Center. Both projects, which account for a 30% expansion of the Morris County Vocational School, are designed to provide leading-edge career and educational programs for students and adults alike. In the past, he joined with the nonprofit New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program to place a priority on manufacturing education and skilled vocational and technical training. Iacaono is also a supporter and an active member of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges to advance its mission of strengthening and supporting the state’s network of community colleges.
Jebb started her presidency of Ramapo College of New Jersey in July 2021 following a 39-year career in public service. She retired from the U.S. Military with the rank of Brigadier General in 2021. While Jebb was the first woman dean of the academic board at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, her responsibilities included service as Dean of the Faculty and Chief Advisor on all curricular matters. Before her appointment as dean at West Point, Dr. Jebb fulfilled roles as Director of Comparative Politics and as Professor and Head of the Department of Social Sciences at West Point. Further, she assisted in establishing West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and Conflict and Human Security Studies Program. A former military intelligence officer, an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a well-regarded scholar and instructor, Jebb has taught courses in Comparative Politics, International Security, International Relations, Cultural Anthropology, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, and Officership. At Ramapo College, Jebb leads an institution increasingly regarded as an exceptional value, consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the Best Regional Universities in the North, and by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine as one of the 100 Best Values in Public Colleges.
Along the Eagleton poll at Rutgers University and the Monmouth University Poll, the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll ranks among the most widely watched measures of public opinion. All three will be front and center in 2021 with Gov. Phil Murphy seeking reelection and all 120 legislative seats up for grabs. The FDU poll is highly regarded in part because of Jenkins’ tenure as executive director. At the end of last years, Jenkins joined the surveys office of the Pew Charitable Trusts. She is the author of Mothers, Daughters, and Political Socialization: Two Generations at an American Women’s College, published by Temple University Press in 2013 and is a co-author of A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life and the Changing American Citizen, published by Oxford University Press in 2006.
Barbara George Johnson
In July 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Barbara George Johnson, vice president of external affairs and urban policy and research at Kean University, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The nomination affirmed Kean’s commitment to research as the University pursues a Carnegie R2 research designation. The foundation, established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late U.S. Sen. and statesman Barry Goldwater, provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Johnson has more than 30 years of experience as a public policy professional in New Jersey and has shaped economic, health and social policy in the state. At the John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy at Kean, she oversees the work and mission of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, a one-of-a-kind organization of 32 urban mayors engaged in collective policymaking. The Institute focuses on urban environmental policy, public health policy, early childhood policy, and instruction in leadership development and civic engagement.
Kennedy is the CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, which claims credit for more than $1 billion in product and services sold. His job — setting the organization’s strategic direction while striking partnerships and developing new initiatives — has taken on new urgency since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak exposed vulnerabilities in the state’s manufacturing sector, gaps that Kennedy has been warning about for years. NJMEP will be the foremost organization in promoting new manufacturing in the state to ensure that New Jersey can meet the next public health challenge with products made close to home. Backed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NJMEP provides workforce development programs, supports entry-level training, provides credentials to state residents and offers employment to New Jersey’s underserved residents, such as veterans. Kennedy in August oversaw the opening of the organization’s South Jersey training facility in Bellmawr which will serve manufacturing businesses in the southern portion of the state. “It’s our responsibility to ensure that every manufacturing business in New Jersey has the option to take advantage of our services as New Jersey’s MEP center. We’ve always been able to serve South Jersey-based manufacturers from our Cedar Knolls headquarters, but the opening of the Bellmawr training center makes it even easier for these businesses to upskill their staff and engage with NJMEP,” he said.
As the president of Stockton University, Kesselman played a key role in establishing the university’s Atlantic City campus in 2018, even though it was sidetracked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many state and local leaders view Stockton’s presence in Atlantic City as key to diversifying the local economy beyond gambling, a reliance that pushed the resort town to the brink of bankruptcy following the Great Recession and drove up local unemployment to some of the nation’s highest rates as COVID-19 forced the gaming halls to close. Nonetheless, Stockton plays a key role in many endeavors meant to build up the area’s economy. The school’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism offers key insights on New Jersey’s nine casinos and the broader gambling, restaurant and hospitality industry. And Stockton is involved in a variety of research projects at the nearby Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center and at the university’s new esports research center.
Koppell took over as president of Montclair State University in August 2021 as the school the state were beginning emerge from a global pandemic that shut down campus life for over a year. The spread of the delta variant will undoubtedly pose new challenges. Koppell arrived at Montclair state after a decade as dean of Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and vice provost for public service and social impact. Under his leadership, the college more than doubled its enrollment, becoming the nation’s largest comprehensive public affairs college, serving more than 9,000 students in bachelor’s, masters and doctoral programs. During Koppell’s tenure, Watts added 20 new degree programs, expanded its online offerings and global programs, and launch joint venture in Hainan, China.
Unanimously selected by Monmouth University’s board of trustees, Leahy joined the West Long Branch institution as president in August 2019. Like universities up and down the Garden State, Monmouth has faced an onslaught from the COVID-19 pandemic. The campus had to shut down last fall following several outbreaks among students, and masks and vaccines are now required on campus. Amid the pandemic, Leahy boasts several feathers in his hat. In May, Monmouth welcomed its first class of students for its Doctor of Occupational Therapy, slated to graduate in November next year. He tapped Pamela Scott-Johnson as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, a role she took on in August, where she’ll take a particular focus on broadening university research. He tapped Raj Devasagayam to serve as dean of the Leon Hess Business School, which he started on July 1. Then in February, the university and Monmouth Medical Center jointly opened the Linda Grunin Simulation Lab and Learning Center, which provides simulation training in health care education.
The percentage of Newark residents with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is considerably lower than the state and national average. With many jobs both in the Brick City and across the state and nation increasingly requiring higher education credentials the city’s educated numbers need to go up. Enter figures like Reginald Lewis, who have been closely involved in efforts to boost higher education efforts in Newark. He was recently executive director of the Newark City of Learning Collaborative, which aims to increase the proportion of residents with a higher education degree or credential to 25% by 2025. He took on a role as head of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership at Seton Hall University in May 2020. There, he’s advanced the center’s mission “to advance the awareness, understanding and practice of servant leadership by individuals and organizations.” Gov. Phil Murphy took note of Lewis’ resume, and he was picked in 2019 to help implement the governor’s higher education goals for the state.
Neill leads Ramapo College of New Jersey’s new Master of Fine Arts in Creative Music Technology program, which is the latest hands-on learning experience offered by the university. Not just an educator, Neill has performed as an artist alongside Mimi Ghoese and in such iconic venues such as the Whitney, the Getty and Lincoln Center. Neill was the artist-in-residence at Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology program from 2019-21 and also presented in the Digital Graffiti exhibition in Alys Beach, Fla. this year – which the Smithsonian Magazine named one of top five immersive art experiences in the world.
Nynens was elected CEO as New Jersey Innovation Institute in late 2019 after more than a year serving as vice president and chief commercial officer of New Jersey Institute of Technology. A natural a leader, he spent the 12 years prior as chairman and CEO of Wayside Technology Group, for which he increased revenues from $180 million to $450 million; and not a stranger to innovation and technology, he was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 in the technology services category.
Much of Nyre’s tenure as Seton Hall University’s 21st president has been spent in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nyre earned credit as an innovator early on by making Seton Hall the first on the eastern seaboard to announce its fall 2020 plans, when so much was still up in the air. Planning is one of Nyre’s fortes: Since late 2020, he’s finalized and initiated a multi-year master plan for Seton Hall and commenced a campus master planning process to physically transform the university over the next 15 years in a way that supports learning, student life, and research. Additionally, he’s planned and implemented the silent and public phases of the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign in over a decade, and funding has increased more than 100% year over year. Before taking the reins in South Orange, Nyre spent eight years leading Iona College, and years working as a clinical psychologist and academic at schools including Baylor University, the University of Illinois-Chicago College of Medicine, and Harvard Medical School.
Overdeck chairs the Overdeck Family Foundation, which seeks to enhance education both inside and outside the classroom for American students, and is the president of Bedtime Math, a nonprofit that ignites kids’ curiosity and learning by bringing recreational math to children through their parents. She is also a founding board member of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and is a trustee of Princeton University, Liberty Science Center, and The Pingry School, and serves on the advisory boards of Khan Academy, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Governor’s School of New Jersey. This past June, in an effort to accelerate student learning and address COVID-related learning loss, the NJPRF, in conjunction with Overdeck Foundation, partnered with The College of New Jersey’s School of Education to launch the NJ Summer Tutoring Corps Program which provided tutoring for thousands of K–5 students who had experienced pandemic-related learning loss. “The learning loss caused by the pandemic is nothing short of an emergency, and it is imperative to address it before the coming school year,” Overdeck said.
The president Hudson County Community College, Reber gained wide attention when the school cancelled the debt incurred by 2,000 students over three semesters during the pandemic. “The number one goal we have is to try to avoid students dropping out. Because of the nature of our student body, the likelihood [is high] that if they stop now, they’ll never come back to us or to any higher degree,” he explained in August. Previously, the school entered into an agreement with the New Jersey Institute of Technology under which students who earn an associate’s degree in business administration at HCCC will be able to transfer seamlessly to bachelor’s degree programs in business, business online accelerated entrepreneurship, and financial technology at NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management.
Repollet departed his post as the state’s education commissioner and took the helm of Kean University in May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation and took hold on daily life, forcing millions of students into remote learning. He delayed stepping up to the post at Kean until August, so that his department could piece together a reopening plan for the 2020/2021 school year for the state’s 2,500 schools and its more than 1.4 million students. Kean is one of many colleges in the state requiring its students to get the COVID-19 vaccine as it juggles a physical return-to-campus. Indoor mask requirements are in place regardless of vaccine status, and all staff and faculty have until Oct. 18 to also get the shot.
Anne Huntington Sharma
As the second-generation leader of the Oradell-based tutoring and testing prep provider Huntington Learning Centers, which she took over in the fall of 2019, Huntington Sharma is responsible for heading the company’s franchise expansion, overseeing its digital transformation efforts, developing strategic partnerships, directing organizational change and serving as the company’s public-facing representative. She joined the learning franchise in 2014 as a director and was promoted to head of public-private partnerships in 2015, where she developed and launched Huntington’s Compensatory Education Services program, designed to support special education students who have been denied their federal right to a free and appropriate education. This program has hundreds of active participants and is available at select Huntington Learning Centers nationwide. “I grew up in the Huntington Learning Center system, and I understand firsthand how important our work is,” Huntington said. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to preserve the legacy that my parents built, to innovate and strengthen our company’s foundation, and to continue our mission that positively impacts students, families and communities across the country.”
Silvera is a public health professor at Montclair State University. As an academic expert on epidemiology, her insight has frequently been sought on all manner of things related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as masking, business restrictions, reopenings and vaccinations. Numerous media outlets, including NJBIZ, have featured her insight on the topic of COVID-19 and her advice will continue to be sought as the pandemic and delta variant drag on well into the end of 2021.
Dr. Stanton is the founding dean of Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, which after three years in partnership with Seton Hall was distinguished as an independent medical school — one with a three-year path to residency and a mission to work in underserved communities in New Jersey. “Our vision – which we believe is achievable — is that all citizens within the State of New Jersey—and eventually across the nation—deserve the same level of health outcomes regardless of race or socioeconomic status,” Stanton said last year. “The entire curriculum is built around this vision.” Stanton has spent the last 25-plus years addressing issues related to urban health, HIV/AIDS transmission in youth, child health, vaccines and health services research. On Sept. 28, she will receive the National Medical Fellowships’ Legacy Award for helping to create “a school that recognizes inequity in health outcomes and that is demonstrating to students that healthcare disparities are born of structural and systemic racism,” according to the NMF.
Antonio D. Tillis
Tillis assumed the post of chancellor of Rutgers-Camden on July 1. He joined Rutgers’ southernmost campus, where 7,200 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled, after time as interim president of the University of Houston-Downtown in Texas. Tillis has spent his career in higher education leadership roles across the country and is a noted scholar in Afro-Hispanic studies. Rutgers-Camden is nationally recognized for its recognition to first generation college students, and Tillis knows the importance of this firsthand: he’s a first-generation college student himself. “I understand what drives Rutgers–Camden students. It’s not just about them – their success also is about the elevation of their families and their communities,” he said at the time of his appointment. “I look forward to working with these students to help them take full advantage of the opportunities before them and to make sure that they are supported.”