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No. 1: Mark Angelson

Education Power 50

Mark Angelson, vice chairman of the Institute of International Education.

At many big state universities, the choice of a new head football coach would be the biggest personnel decision facing school officials. But given the gridiron travails of the Scarlet Knights, university president remains the highest-profile job at Rutgers. Angelson, the vice chairman of the Institute of International Education — which administers the Fulbright Scholarships — is leading the search for Robert Barchi’s replacement as head of the state’s biggest institution of higher education.

The new president will lead Rutgers into the next phase of its membership in the Big Ten conference, amid criticism of the move from faculty members that will get louder unless the school starts seeing some success on the football field — and the basketball court — along with increased revenues from the athletic department.

That will be a challenge. A report commissioned by the university and released in January found that while Rutgers compared favorably in academic measures to other Big Ten schools, New Jersey’s entrant lagged financially. And the prospects are not good.

“The expectations relative to financial distributions from the Big Ten, although real, have been tempered by the six-year wait for full distribution, which will begin in 2021,” the report stated. “Moreover, advances taken against those future distributions will result in lesser distributions in 2021 and beyond as compared to established Big Ten peers. For example, while a full conference share to its traditional members for 2021 is projected to be approximately $52 million, Rutgers’ distribution will be substantially less.”

Add in the usual financial pressures — the chase for alumni donations and the battle for resources from a cash-strapped state government — and the new president will have his or her hands full. “In the search for Dr. Robert Barchi’s successor, we seek another talented and visionary leader who will build upon Rutgers’ past progress and successfully shepherd the university toward a future with an abundance of opportunities and challenges,” Angelson said in a statement announcing the appointment of the search committee he chairs.

Angelson is a graduate of Rutgers (1972) and its law school in Newark (1975). His fellow alums, current Rutgers students and the rest of the state will be rooting for him to find the right person. His success will matter more than even an upset victory over Ohio State.

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