As president of a major anchor institution in the state’s largest city, Bloom has been head of an New Jersey Institute of Technology, an institute that’s tried to empower unrepresented, first-generation lower-income, typically minority New Jerseyans – especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Bloom himself has been intimately involved in the STEM field for years. “Every company today is a technology company,” Bloom said last year. “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. He and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka rolled out a series of education programs for city residents, and at the state level have been involved in a number of workforce training programs. The campus has undergone a major facelift in the past decade. With a pandemic and ensuing recession that’s been shown to take a massive toll on communities of color – both in infections, fatalities and economic hardships – using higher education as a means to level the playing field for people of color and disadvantaged residents has become a far greater priority. Bloom’s contract is slated to end on June 30, 2021, and between now and then he’ll head an 11,000-plus undergraduate and graduate university with a $16 million deficit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s par for the course of universities across the country, as the pandemic shutters sports arenas, cuts enrollment and on-campus housing, and sheds the millions of dollars in dining and parking fees and event and programming revenue universities typically enjoy. The massive pivot to online learning has added its own array of costs, Bloom has warned, and like the rest of the nation, budget cuts will be looming.
Caldwell was named executive director of the FDU Rothman Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in October 2018. With a pandemic raging through the state, he turned his attention to the mental health of students and others trying to cope with a dramatically changed world. Caldwell’s “Self-Reflection Map” is designed to help individuals take regular stock of their emotional well-being. In addition, he is author of “Intelligent Influence: The 4 Steps of Highly Successful Leaders and Organizations” and 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.
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. She has also emerged as a leading voice for equitable redevelopment in Newark, working with other anchor institutions such as the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in establishing programs intended to make the city work for all of its citizens. Cantor leads efforts to leverage the university’s strengths, particularly its diversity and high-impact research. 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.
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, an important development given recent events. 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.
Cavalieri wears many hats. The dean at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine is also a professor of medicine and osteopathic heritage endowed chair for primary care research. 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; and under his guidance, the school has gained notoriety (and recognition from US News & World Report) as one of America’s best medical schools for geriatric medical education.
Cornacchia is the 22nd president of Saint Peter’s University. Under his leadership, Saint Peter’s has expanded its undergraduate and graduate programs, initiated the institution’s first doctoral programs and established a School of Nursing along with the Caulfield School of Education. While higher education has been faced with unique circumstances due to COVID-19, Cornacchia showed his vision in July 2020 when he announced that construction will soon begin on a new six-story residence hall with anticipated completion by fall 2021. “Peter’s is committed to re-emerging from this challenging time even stronger and more resilient than before,” said Cornacchia “The construction of this residence hall will be a critical addition to our campus to position the University for future success. We actively encourage our students to live on campus as it can significantly enhance their experience through increased opportunities for participation, personal growth and independence.”
Custard was tapped in 2015 to head the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which aims to bridge students in K-12 and higher education with the state’s workforce needs. Through its flagship program, Jobs for New Jersey Graduates, the foundation is aimed at preventing high-school drop-outs, and steering those students toward full-time jobs or post-secondary education. She was also named this past December to a 35-member “Elite Cohort” within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Business Leads Fellowship Program, all of whom would be trained to help further those goals in their respective communities. “My goal is to bring best practices from around the country to New Jersey so that we can tackle our workforce development needs,” said back in December. The NJ Chamber Foundation boasts an ensemble cast of financial backers, among them some of the largest businesses in the state. Those include telecoms giant AT&T, the PSEG Foundation, the Deloitte Foundation, Wells Fargo, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, PNC Bank, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hackensack Meridian Health.
Following Lamont Repollet’s departure from the state Department of Education in August to take the helm of Kean University, Dehmer has been left to oversee and approve the reopening plan of hundreds of K-12 school districts, private and charter schools, serving a combined 1.4 million students as interim commissioner. Most districts will offer some combination of online classes and in-person teaching, though some have opted for just in-person or online. All of them had to be reviewed and approved by the DOE. Face coverings are required, some schools will screen their staff, and at others students can be turned away if they’ve traveled to high-risk areas. Six foot physical distancing will be enforced, and when not possible, protective barriers such as plexiglass dividers at desks will be installed. Whether Dehmer keeps his post is still up in the air. But the return of students to the classrooms, colder weather, the beginning of flu season and the resumption of indoor dining and gyms have all been seen as the ingredients to a perfect storm for a second wave, forcing schools back into a situation like in March leading up to their abrupt closure.
As the president of Rider University, Dell’Omo is spearheading and initiative to make higher education more affordable and more relevant to graduates’ career needs. Toward that end, the school will cut tuition by 22 percent for new students next fall and will offer an array of resources designed to prepare them for the world of work. Undergraduate tuition will fall from $45,100 to $35,000 for the autumn 2021 semester, the school said, pointing out that its costs are set using a pricing model that provides discounts through scholarships and financial aid. According to the university, 99 percent of its students on its Lawrenceville campus receive such school-funded assistance and the percentage is not likely to change. “Because a college education remains one of the most important investments individuals can make in their lifetimes, our goal is to help lift any barrier that prevents a student from thriving at Rider University, including those who assume a private education is out of reach based solely on the sticker price,” Dell’Omo said in announcing the moves.
Eisgruber’s actions show he wants Princeton, although elite, to be welcoming. Amid a national conversation about race in light of the recent killings of unarmed Black Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others by police officers, Eisgruber announced that the university would remove the name of former President Woodrow Wilson from its public policy school because of his segregationist views. “When a university names a school of public policy for a political leader, it inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for students who study at the school,” Eisgruber said. “This searing moment in American history has made clear that Wilson’s racism disqualifies him from that role. In a nation that continues to struggle with racism, this University and its school of public and international affairs must stand clearly and firmly for equality and justice.” The school was rechristened as the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Eisgruber’s most recent actions mirror his actions of yesteryear when he not only pledged his support for immigrants coming to the U.S. for college but backed up his rhetoric by contacting the State and Homeland Security departments to voice concern over proposed policy changes that would reduce the flow of incoming students.
John Farmer Jr.
Farmer took the helm of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in 2019, replacing the late Ruth Mandel after her retirement last year. Eagleton is perhaps the go-to source of insight for the Garden State and nationwide political landscape. Farmer, having been governor of New Jersey for 90 minutes in 2002, senior counsel in the 9/11 Commission and attorney general under Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, boasts a wealth of experience in government, politics, law and education. The academic institute branches out to an array of centers, such as the Center for American Women and Politics which focuses on studying and promoting greater female participation in public life, the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling that gauges both state and nationwide opinion on public issues, and the Center on the American Governor, which researches and examines the role of the state executives in politics and government.
In a unanimous decision, the Stevens Institute of Technology board of trustees in July voted to reappoint President Nariman Farvardin to a third five-year term, extending through June 2026.
Farvardin was named president of the university in 2011, serving as its seventh president. Under his direction, Stevens has enjoyed unprecedented growth in undergraduate and graduate applications and enrollment—along with the acquisition of outstanding faculty, a strengthened financial profile, and increased enrollment of underserved and underrepresented minority students. Navigating the complexities of COVID-19 is proving difficult for educational institutions worldwide. Farvardin made the decision in August to revise Stevens’ plans for the Fall 2020 semester with a dramatic decrease in the number of students and classes being held on-campus. Citing COVID-19 spikes in young adults, quarantine restrictions, plus concerns from staff, students and medical professionals, Stevens made the decision that only first-year students, new transfer students, and new graduate students will have the opportunity for an on-campus learning experience this fall. The mode will include a mix of in-person, socially distanced hybrid learning and online instruction.
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. New Jersey’s 18 community colleges enroll more than 400,000 students at more than 70 campuses. A community college champion his entire career, Fichtner recognizes the valuable role community colleges play in providing high quality, affordable and accessible higher education to the people of New Jersey. In August New Jersey Council of County Vocational-Technical Schools and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges issued a white paper making specific recommendations for collaboration that will help more New Jerseyans launch affordable education pathways that respond to the needs of students, employers, communities and New Jersey’s economy. Fichtner said he intends to work together to map clear pathways to critical careers that require industry credentials and two-year degrees in health care, technology, wind and clean energy, construction, advanced manufacturing, and hospitality.
The native New Jerseyan left her post as president at the University of Maine at Farmington in 2018 to lead The College of New Jersey in Ewing. Her academic leadership has taken her to several northeast states over the past 35 years. She brings a focus on diversity and inclusion to 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. This year, she announced that the Williams Green House, a 1700s-era domicile on campus, had evidence of a slave inhabitant. Researchers found that what the evidence actually showed was of an indentured servant. In an interview with TCNJ student newspaper The Signal last month, Foster said, “One of the truisms of research … is that you’re continually learning more, making discoveries, having findings, getting outcomes and then adjusting what your priors were so that you can go in and ask new, important questions.”
Carley Graham Garcia
Montclair State University appointed Graham Garcia executive director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation last year and she has been putting her mark on the institution ever since. Earlier this year, the center opened the Montclair Innovation Lab, a space for students and local entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and skill. And she refocused the center’s annual pitch competition to recognize women entrepreneurs and added a division for local businesses. “There’s a ton of writing around how women founders are underfunded, so we deliberately wanted to make a prize category that was equal in its amount to the first-place prize,” Garcia told NJBIZ earlier this year. “Tons of small businesses right now are hurting, a lot of startups are hurting, so we carved out a very small amount from our prize pot – $2,500 – to support a community startup that was either in Montclair, Clifton or Little Falls.” Garcia spent 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.
Goldenberg is president of the New Jersey State Board of Education, an entity that approves the statewide curriculum standards for New Jersey’s 2,500 public schools serving 1.4 million students and sets out the continuing education and licensure requirements for teachers. She was appointed in 2017 under then-Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, having spent several years in top posts at a number of education groups. Between 2015 and 2017, she was a voting member of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the statewide association which regulates sports at hundreds of the state’s high schools. And she was active with the New Jersey School Boards Association between 2007 and 2017, a de facto trade association for school districts and local school boards.
Gonzalez took the helm as the state’s higher education secretary in early July, replacing Zakiya Smith Ellis. She now heads a department that rolled out the much-needed guidelines for how universities can operate during the pandemic. The guide covers testing and how to screen students, faculty and staff for the virus, how to isolate suspected or positive cases, dorm and classroom capacity, sanitization and how to respond to widely expected outbreaks on campus, or how to contain them and prevent them. Like with the state’s K-12 school districts, many of New Jersey’s public and private universities are switching to a hybrid model for the time-being. Princeton University said all its classes will be online, as will most of the classes at Rutgers University this fall. “We know how effective in-person learning is as it provides students academic and social supports that cannot be offered as efficiently in remote settings,” Gonzalez said in mid-August. Whether her position will become permanent is still up in the air. One notch in her favor has been the allocation of $150 million of federal COVID-relief funding to the state’s colleges. But she’ll have her work cut out for her as the academic year gets underway.
The fourth president of Thomas Edison State University, having assumed office on March 5, 2018, Hancock is a nationally recognized leader in the administration and delivery of innovative education programs for adult students. Under Hancock’s direction TESU established the TESU/NJ 3+1 Pathways Program, through which New Jersey community college students can transfer up to 90 credits and then complete the remaining 30 credits required for graduation with Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison has since expanded the program to include more than 50 programs of study. In March TESU said it would temporarily lower its visiting student undergraduate tuition rates to match degree-seeking rates for terms starting in May, June or July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assuming the presidency in July of 2018, Helldobler is the eighth leader of William Paterson University, where an agreement signed in May with Mercer County Community College in West Windsor allows MCCC students to complete three years there en route to a bachelor’s degree at William Paterson. Just as COVID-19 began to take hold in the state, William Paterson introduced an MBA program that offers six degree options, 100 percent online. Students in this 30-credit program can choose from the broad-based MBA general track or from five specialized concentrations including marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, human resource management, and accounting. Like many William Paterson University students, Helldobler is a first-generation college student of immigrant heritage. This personal experience sustains his commitment to serving students for whom education is a means of social mobility and economic progress. After the establishment of the university’s new Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Black Cultural Center, Helldobler’s focus now is on diversity and inclusion for Latino and LGBTQA students. He is challenging the university to rethink systems that create barriers for underrepresented populations in higher education.
Henderson has played a critical role in transforming New Jersey City University into a well-known and valued academic option, one that provides education for all. Working together with city, county, and state officials who saw the need for the revitalization of Jersey City’s West Side, University Place at NJCU was launched as a Public-Private Partnership – developed by The Hampshire Cos., Claremont Cos. and Circle Squared Alternative in conjunction with the city government and NJCU, where Henderson serves as president. Described as a true visionary, Henderson was intrinsic to the creation of NJCU’s business school including state of the art Virtual Classroom learning technology, conference space (an income producer) and a television studio. Along with Dean of Business Bernard McSherry, she has created an energizing space for any student or business person. Her accessibility, partnerships and skillful negotiations have brought excellent development partners to the school. NJCU is now an entire campus and neighborhood — and the Performing Arts Center will continue to elevate the transformation of the Western side of Jersey City.
Huntington assumed the helm of the Huntington Learning Center in October of 2019. As the second-generation leader of the Oradell-based school, Huntington is responsible for heading the company’s continued franchise expansion, overseeing its digital transformation efforts, developing strategic partnerships, directing organizational change, and serving as the company’s public-facing representative. She will also continue to serve on the company’s board of directors. Huntington has dedicated herself to the company’s mission to give every student the best education possible, and the organization’s vision of world-class student results and franchisee profitability.No stranger to the educational learning franchise, she joined Huntington in 2014 as a director and was promoted to head of public-private partnerships in 2015. In that role, 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. To date, 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.”
Houshmand became Rowan’s seventh president in 2012 and has built his tenure, and the future of Rowan, on four guiding principles: increasing access to a four-year degree, keeping that degree affordable, providing high-quality education and leveraging the university’s capacity to be an economic engine. Houshmand established an emergency fund, with money raised outside Rowan’s normal course of operations, to help Rowan students solely based on emergency financial need. In light of economic effects due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Houshmand along with Rowan’s board of trustees passed a resolution in July reducing undergraduate tuition and fees for 2020-2021, further showing his commitment to keeping education affordable. This effort was highlighted again in August after Forbes Magazine named Rowan a “best-in-state employer” and Niche, a Pittsburgh-based data collection firm, ranked America’s top public universities, scoring Rowan No. 5 in New Jersey. Houshmand reflected that being recognized shows the institution’s commitment to its two most important groups: students and employees. “It’s certainly an honor to be recognized for our work. Our goal remains: delivering the highest quality education that is affordable and accessible,” Houshmand said. “But we are also committed to being the type of employer where the very best candidates can build their careers. To be recognized is truly gratifying.”