New Jersey City University announced Jan. 13 that Andres Acebo has been named interim president of the university, effective Jan. 17.
Acebo, a Hudson County native who grew up in Union City, has been serving as executive vice president and university counsel. He was elevated to those roles amid NJCU’s current financial emergency, which NJBIZ has extensively reported on. He has also served as secretary to the board of trustees and helped guide its government relations initiative.
The appointment is for 24 months for Acebo, who will be only the second Hispanic to serve as the leader of a public institution in the state, and, at 37, will apparently be the youngest president to ever lead a public university in New Jersey.
“After several months of conducting an extensive search for an interim leader of the university to help guide us through the next phase of our fiscal emergency, Andy emerged as the primary candidate for the interim position,” said Joseph Scott, NJCU board chair. “We are grateful for his willingness to serve. Andy is uniquely qualified for this moment. His history of accomplishments in our time of crisis are impressive. He has been appointed with unanimous support of the executive committee of the Board. He has the support and full confidence of both the Board and our organized labor units on campus, and an excellent rapport with our legislative stakeholders.”
“He lives the mission of our institution every day, and we thank him for answering the call to serve,” Scott added.
“I am profoundly humbled and honored to accept the call to serve the community that raised me and shaped me,” Acebo said. “NJCU’s mission in inextricably linked to my life. NJCU graduates educated me, nursed me, protected me, and championed me. This institution delivered for my friends and my family the promise of a better life – a promise that every day, staff and faculty, students, and community leaders and stakeholders, breathe life into. I am confident that that promise will not be deferred, that we will meet this moment, and not just survive challenges, but thrive well into our second century serving my community – our community.”
He succeeds Jason Kroll, who had served as acting president since June 28, 2022, and announced in November that he planned to step down upon the appointment of a permanent interim president.
“I would like to express my gratitude to Jason Kroll, who graciously accepted our request to serve as Acting President in late June and has admirably helped guide the ship through challenging waters,” said Scott. “The University is extremely appreciative of his efforts.”
NJCU notes the efforts Acebo has made since their financial emergency was announced last year, including collaborating with NJCU’s organized labor, stakeholders, and constituencies to reduce a more than $20 million deficit by more than 50% within 120 days. The university also says he has worked to help remove NJCU from rating agency’s negative watch and has led efforts to develop an academic rightsizing framework that honors collective bargaining rights and creates a pathway for reallocation of resources and an updated academic portfolio.
“There is no nobler and more humbling opportunity than one that lets you embrace responsibility to serve your community at a time of greatest need,” said Acebo. “I said yes to serving as Interim President because of my deep feeling of conviction and responsibility to give back to a community that has given me so much.”