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Education Power 50 A-G

Lori AronsLori Arons

A lawyer for special needs children in disputes with school districts, Arons began her own general practice in New City, N.Y. nearly 20 years ago and handled a wide variety of matters, including civil litigation, commercial litigation, collections, matrimonial law, family law, real estate and personal injury. In recent years, Arons has concentrated her practice in the area of special education law, helping families of children with special needs obtain an education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to meet their unique needs as promised by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Arons understands the plight of parents of children with special needs and uses state and federal laws to see that they are treated fairly and with dignity.

Robert BarchiRobert Barchi

As he prepares to step down as Rutgers University president Barchi can reflect on a substantial legacy. After being appointed in 2012, he led the development of an ambitious university-wide strategic plan, the first at Rutgers in almost two decades, and a corresponding physical master plan. And he successfully completed the university’s first billion-dollar capital campaign. Most recently, he faced contract demands by the unions representing faculty and staff, including a $15 minimum wage for hourly employees, expanded health care benefits, guaranteed job security and annual cost-of-living adjustments. With a potential strike looming, the administration reached last -minute agreements with the union representing nearly 5,000 faculty members and graduate workers. The agreement means Barchi can serve his final year at the helm of the state’s largest university without the threat of a major walkout.

Joseph Barone

Joseph Barone

Barone is a professor and dean of the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers. He served as chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration for 24 years, before taking on the role of acting dean in October 2011, and was appointed the ninth dean of the school in September 2013. Barone also serves on the state Health Planning Board and formerly chaired the executive committee of the New Jersey Medical Emergency Disaster Prevention and Response Expert Panel. In 1984, he founded the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program which has graduated more than 900 post-doctoral fellows.

Joel BloomJoel Bloom

As president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Bloom advocates for STEM education, especially for underrepresented groups. Toward that end, he joined with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Newark School District Superintendent Roger Leon in February 2019 to unveil the NJIT/Newark Math Success Initiative and the Mayor’s Honors Scholars Program. The Math Success Initiative seeks to increase the number of Newark residents who enroll at NJIT for undergraduate education. The Scholars Program is designed to create a pipeline from Newark Public Schools to NJIT’s Albert Dorman Honors College by granting three scholarships and paid internships to Newark Public School graduates. To put some institutional heft behind that push, NJIT is partnering with industry to make higher education more accessible to nontraditional students. “Every company today is a technology company,” Bloom said. “You want a job that pays well. STEM is difficult and takes a lot of hard work.” Success in this endeavor would go a long way toward strengthening the state’s workforce and economy.

Dennis BoneDennis Bone

Bone founded the Montclair State University Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in January 2013 as part of the Feliciano School of Business. The center seeks to provide students with tools to turn creative sparks and innovative ideas into successful ventures. It offers a concentration in entrepreneurship, a minor in entrepreneurship, a certificate of entrepreneurship and a certificate in innovation design. Bone retired in the summer of 2012 from Verizon New Jersey Inc., where he served as president and CEO for more than a dozen years. He began as an engineer with New Jersey Bell in 1979, and worked in a variety of jobs with increasing responsibilities in operations, regulatory, external affairs and public policy positions. He has been active in strengthening the state’s workforce as chairman of New Jersey’s State Employment and Training Commission. He served as co-chairman of Gov. Chris Christie’s 2009 Economic Development Transition Team, which led to the formation of Choose New Jersey, with Bone as founding chairman. In addition, Bone serves on the boards of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development and the New Jersey Center for Teaching and Learning.

Dale CaldwellDale Caldwell

Caldwell was named executive director of the FDU Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in October 2018. The author of “Intelligent Influence: The 4 Steps of Highly Successful Leaders and Organizations,” Caldwell has more than 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur and 20 years of experience as a management consultant and executive coach. His professional background includes roles as a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting, deputy commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and executive director of the Newark Alliance. In addition, Caldwell holds a BA in Economics from Princeton and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Nancy Cantor

Nancy Cantor

The chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, Cantor is recognized as an advocate for leveraging diversity, re-emphasizing the public mission of colleges and universities as engines of discovery, innovation and social mobility. Nonetheless, she brought unwelcome attention to Rutgers when she berated a campus police officer after her driver got into a fender bender on campus on March 4, 2019. Cantor apologized for yelling at the officers in a written statement on June 11, 2019. Generally, though, she leads efforts to leverage the university’s strengths, particularly its diversity, high-impact research and role as an anchor institution in New Jersey’s largest city. Cantor previously served as chancellor and president of Syracuse University, where her efforts to foster mutually beneficial collective impact initiatives between the university and community earned her the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award in 2008.

Christopher CapuanoChristopher Capuano

Capuano took over the reigns as the eighth president of Fairleigh Dickinson University in September 2017 and took on the challenge of leading the school through a new strategic plan. Capuano has held a series of leadership positions at the university over more than 25 years. As university provost, he helped assemble a leadership team in the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, which resulted in consistent enrollment growth and full accreditation with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. FDU said Capuano was instrumental in securing a large gift to support the university’s new Daniel and Martina Lewis Center for Healthcare Innovation and Technology. And he helped develop the university’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, working with former President Sheldon Drucker, the board of trustees and faculty and staff across the school, including at the university’s international campuses in Canada and England.

Thomas CavalieriThomas Cavalieri

In addition to his role as Dean of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Cavalieri also serves as a Professor of Medicine and Osteopathic Heritage Endowed Chair for Primary Care Research. He is currently overseeing the modernization of the school’s undergraduate medical education curriculum, facilitating a class size expansion, building the school’s endowment, and preparing the campus for the single accreditation of the graduate medical education programs. An advocate for older adults, Cavalieri has raised the bar on the standard of care for that population. He was the founding director of the Center of Aging, which has grown into the Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology-New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging at Rowan. Under his guidance, Rowan has been named 16 times by US News & World Report as one of America’s best medical schools for geriatric medical education. Cavalieri is the author of over 40 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts, of which many focus on end of life issues, his primary area of research focus. He has been named a “Top Doc” in geriatrics by Castle Connelly, the Consumer Union Checkbook, Philadelphia Magazine, New Jersey Monthly, South Jersey Magazine, and SJ Magazine.

Susan ColeSusan Cole

As president of Montclair State University, Cole focuses on the affordability of New Jersey colleges and on science/technology/engineering/arts/mathematics education (STEAM) to prepare students for high-demand careers. She wants to see more equitable allocation of funding to New Jersey’s public universities and a more rational system of  distribution. She notes that public colleges in New Jersey were the fourth most expensive in the United States in 2018. Cole also showed leadership in January 2019 by hosting a forum for federal employees idled by the government shutdown.

Sandra CunninghamSandra Cunningham

As chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Cunningham wields considerable sway over many of Gov. Phil Murphy’s plans for revamping the state’s higher education landscape – as does her counterpart in the lower house Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Mila Jasey. She has, in the past, scrutinized Murphy’s tuition-free community college program and whether it has actually been accessible to the lower-income residents. Although the proposal has met political roadblocks, lawmakers approved various rounds of funding, including $25 million for the 2020 budget. The Jersey City Democrat has largely remained quiet on whether that money is enough to cover students for two full semesters. Cunningham was also one of the lead sponsors of bills aimed at curbing sexual assault on college campuses. One measure that would establish a commission to study policies universities can enact; another would require universities to follow the Obama-era guidelines – rescinded under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos – on how to handle on-campus incidents of sexual violence. And Cunnigham, along with other top lawmakers such as Sen. Teresa Ruiz, is pushing to hire a woman as Rutgers University’s next president.

Gregory Dell’OmoGregory Dell’Omo

The president of Rider University has some rebuilding to do. In July, the $40 million sale of Rider’s Westminster Choir College to Kaiwen Education, a company part-owned by the Chinese government, fell through amid opposition from faculty, alumni and donors and under scrutiny by the state. Instead, the university’s board approved a plan that would integrate Westminster into the Rider’s Lawrenceville campus — the school has been located in Princeton — beginning in September 2020. Rider will continue to operate the choir college, the Westminster Conservatory and the Westminster Continuing Education programs in Princeton during the 2019-20 academic year. “Throughout this process, we have continually sought to preserve and enhance Westminster’s legacy as a world-class institution, and we made every effort to maintain the college in Princeton,” Dell’Omo said in a statement. “Given the enormous complexity of the transaction, it became increasingly clear that partnering with an outside entity, even one as well-intentioned as Kaiwen, was not feasible on a viable timeline.” Now Dell’Omo faces the challenge of getting his institution’s constituencies to sing in harmony.

Zakiya Smith Ellis

Zakiya Smith Ellis, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Higher Education

Like Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, Secretary of Higher Education Smith Ellis has acted as a cheerleader for Phil Murphy’s education agenda. Smith Ellis’ department is responsible for overseeing the $25 million tuition-free community college program, aimed at offering college educations to thousands of the state’s low-income students. Her office has developed many of the administration’s higher education proposals, such as legislation that provides a student loan ombudsman’s office to help borrowers with complaints and questions The department acts to some extent as a watchdog for the state’s dozens of universities – compiling data on attendance and degrees awarded by year, handling the licensure of new institutions, overseeing the Educational Opportunity Fund to assist low-income students.

John Farmer Jr.John Farmer Jr.

The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University will enter 2020 with a new director for the first time in a quarter century. Farmer takes over leadership of the institute from Ruth Mandel, who announced her retirement earlier this year. He boasts a wealth of experience in government, politics, law and education. Among his more notable positions: chief counsel and attorney general under Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission, author of “The Ground Truth: The Story Behind America’s Defense on 9/11” and dean of Rutgers Law School-Newark. And those are just the highlights. With yet another prestige post on his CV, Farmer could be short-listed for even more prominent jobs.

Nariman FarvardinNariman Farvardin

Under Farvardin’s leadership, Stevens Institute of Technology developed a 10-year strategic plan that it launched in 2012. The goal was for Stevens to become a premier, student-centered, technological research university. Since 2011, undergraduate applications have increased by 157 percent, while undergraduate enrollment has also increased by 41 percent. Stevens said the academic profile of new undergraduates is the highest in the school’s history, evidenced by a 130-point increase in the median SAT score of incoming freshmen.The graduation rate has increased by eight points, to 87 percent, and the percentage of graduates who secure employment or start graduate school within six months of graduation increased by four percentage points to 96 percent. Graduate applications have also increased by 157 percent while full-time equivalent graduate enrollment has increased by 46 percent, including a transition from a majority of part-time graduate students to a majority of full-time students. The school’s Gateway Academic Center, a 90,000 square foot state-of-the-art academic building, is scheduled to open in fall 2019. Planning is also underway for a new University Center and Student Residence Hall.

Aaron FichtnerAaron Fichtner

Fichtner became president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges in 2018 and considers community colleges to be one of New Jersey’s greatest success stories. Created in the 1960s, New Jersey’s 18 community colleges enroll more than 400,000 students at more than 70 campuses. Fichtner considers the primary goal of the community college system to be meeting  the evolving educational needs of New Jersey’s residents. County college students transfer into a four-year colleges or universities, complete programs and move directly into careers, use professional development opportunities to advance within a field or move into another, pursue personal interests via the classroom and enjoy public art, music, theater, lecture, cultural, and sports offerings.

Kate FosterKate Foster

Foster is the president of The College of New Jersey. A native New Jerseyan and a scholar-educator with more than 35 years of experience in public higher education, Foster came to The College of New Jersey from the University of Maine at Farmington where she served as president from 2012 to 2018. Previously, she was a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, on research leave from the State University of New York at Buffalo, her academic home from 1993 to 2012. According to TCNJ, Foster has clarified the school’s institutional priorities and introduced a new budget process to better align investment plans with priorities, and developed key performance indicators to monitor progress. Foster has placed particular emphasis on building a more inclusive community at TCNJ through the creation of a Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the formation of a Bias Response Team; and the development of new education and advocacy programs.

Carley Graham GarciaCarley Graham Garcia

Montclair State University appointed Graham Garcia executive director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, effective Sept. 3. She spent the last 12 years at Google, most recently as head of external affairs, responsible for public policy, government relations and community engagement for the New York City region, including New Jersey. Garcia succeeds Dennis Bone, the center’s founding director, who retired after serving in that role for six years. She is developing a new strategic plan, increasing investments in women’s entrepreneurship week, attracting businesses to Montclair State and creating an innovation hub at the center so “the center is a place where students come to collaborate and to heighten the awareness of what our students can do to create startups.”

Kathy GoldenbergKathy Goldenberg

Goldenberg is president of New Jersey State Board of Education and a member of the Burlington County Women’s Advisory Council. She served on the Moorestown Board of Education from 2007 to 2017, the last two years as president. Before that she held leadership roles which included vice president, and the chair of multiple committees. Goldenberg received her bachelor of business administration in international business and finance from the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. She has experience in multiple leadership capacities at three non-profit volunteer 501c3 organizations; President of the Moorestown Home and School Association, 2005-2007; the Philadelphia Doctor’s Chamber Orchestra, Principal Flute, 1997-present; and as Board of Trustee Member for the Moorestown Education Foundation, 2005-2007 and 2011-2017.

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