Joel S. Bloom, President
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Community Update, December, 2012
We have entered the 2012 Winter Holiday Season and many of us will soon be joining family, friends, and loved ones on an occasion which has traditionally been filled with happiness and hopes for peace as well as experiencing an opportunity to reflect on the aspirations that we hold for the year ahead – for achievement, good will, and beneficence for the many communities to which we belong, contribute, and which we share. On this particular Holiday Season, however, these thoughts are inevitably tempered by the horrific events that have just taken place in Newtown, Connecticut, and the indescribable pain that has been visited upon so many of its families. We mourn with them for their loss and I would ask that we consider, as a university community, how we can ensure the best possible environment for NJIT’s safety and security commensurate with the need to provide the openness required by our institution’s character as a learning community.
I want to take this opportunity, as well, to provide you with and acknowledge the recent progress we have made in a number of areas of importance to the university.
Previously, I had reported that construction is on schedule and within budget for all elements of Gateway Phase 1 (the Warren Street Village) comprised of the Greek houses, the residential Albert Dorman Honors College, and a campus restaurant, convenience store, and fitness facility. I am now pleased to note that the Greek homes are presently at 70%, or 168 beds, committed occupancy by nine Greek organizations including two sororities. I want to acknowledge Thea Schoenberg’s good work for leading the effort to secure the highest level of residential occupancy for this phase of the Gateway project.
With respect to Gateway Phase 2 (in partnership with Jones Lang LaSalle and St. Michael’s Hospital) significant progress is also underway, with a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) having been issued for a parking deck on the current MLK Jr. Blvd. The RFEI also includes St. Michael's surface parking lot as well as retail shopping and low rise residences. The designation of NJIT's property at 240 MLK Jr. Blvd. was also included in the RFEI for potential residential construction. We had six responses to the RFEI, with three now under active consideration. I want to commend Monique King-Viehland for her leadership in moving the Gateway project forward and I would note that at all stages due diligence and on-going review of these projects is being conducted in concert with the NJIT Board of Trustees.
I also want to report on the status of the Capacity Study which has been initiated to plan for key elements of the university beyond 2015. The study is designed to facilitate decision making and planning in three areas: enrollment planning led by Vice President Fey, academic planning led by Provost Gatley and the academic deans, and facilities planning led Vice President Mauermeyer. Development of draft capacity plans is anticipated shortly and will be shared with the Administrative Affairs Committee and the Committee on Academic Affairs early in the spring semester and the Board of Trustees in February.
Over this past semester I am pleased to have had the opportunity to have held informal conversations with faculty representatives from four of NJIT’s colleges. The purpose of the conversations was to gain further insight into the issues and opportunities for each of the colleges. An important theme across the conversations was student retention and graduation rates. Significantly, a concept around which there appears to be consensus is the development of an advising system that uses "professional advisors" with expertise in the discipline to work with students focusing on courses of study and scheduling, and "faculty mentors" who would offer guidance on the applicable professions as well as the core competences of the discipline and profession. I have asked the Retention and Graduation Implementation Task Force, co-chaired by Vice President Fey and Interim NCE Dean Baltzis, to consider this concept.
In my last report to the NJIT Community, I stated that personnel searches were underway including one for the Vice President for Human Resources (chaired by Chief of Staff Hank Ross) and two Deans’ searches, the Dean of the College of Computing Sciences and the Dean of the Albert Dorman Honors College (both chaired by Dean Fadi Deek). With respect the VPHR search, off-campus interviews of semi-finalists and on-campus interviews and forums for finalists have been completed, with recommendations anticipated shortly from the search committee. With respect to the two deans’ searches, both are moving into advanced stages. Web-based interviews with highly qualified candidates have been concluded and semi-finalist lists are now drawn. We can expect to see candidates brought to campus in late January and early February.
Finally, I want to close this update by sharing with you progress on the continued dialog that the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, the leadership of the Faculty Council, Provost Gatley and I recently have had, including a very constructive lunch meeting much of which focused on continuous improvement at NJIT including teaching effectiveness. This topic is expected undergo further discussion and review within the purview of the Academic and Research Committee of the Board of Trustees that includes Dr. Priscilla Nelson, Faculty Council Chair.
Sincerely and with Best Wishes to the entire NJIT community, families and friends for a most happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season,
Joel S. Bloom, President