NJIT Community
Joel S. Bloom
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Community Update
When I last wrote to members of the NJIT Community it was tempered by the horrific events that had just taken place in Newton, Connecticut, as well as the enormous challenges facing our State as a result of the unparalleled destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. Your university has been asked and taken initiative to respond to both. Don Sebastian, Vice President of Research and Development was invited to our nation’s capital to participate in discussions with Vice President Biden on gun safety. Don was integral in the development the NJIT Smart Gun.

In response to the worst hurricane in the State’s history a new center on resilient design is being developed under the leadership of Dean Urs Gauchat to ensure that our recovery in New Jersey will be an enduring one. The proposed center includes three major initiatives: (1) Organize Re-Build New Jersey, a weeklong community service project during Spring Break 2013 when hundreds of NJIT students and faculty will help residents, businesses and local officials recover from the storm; (2) Create a clearinghouse for other academic institutions, businesses and NGOs to share information, expertise and assistance; and (3) Develop resilient “prototypologies” – actual designs and models for housing, mixed-use development and public buildings at a range of scales and locations, constructed in an efficient, effective, and equitable manner. These initiatives will help communities recover more quickly, build capacity for resilient design and create new opportunities for products and services that help fuel a strong and enduring New Jersey recovery.

I am very pleased to report that the search for the Vice President for Human Resources has been concluded successfully under the leadership of Hank Ross with the appointment of Kay Turner who will assume her position as NJIT’s newest vice president within a few days. I know you will join me in warmly welcoming Ms. Turner when she arrives on campus.

Several additional personnel searches are underway including two Deans’ searches, the Dean of the College of Computing chaired by NCE Dean Basil Baltzis and the Dean of the Albert Dorman Honors College chaired by CCS Chair Jim Geller. With respect to the two dean searches currently in progress (CCS and ADHC), both have just concluded their off-campus semi-finalist phase and both have now identified a set of finalists who will begin their campus visits starting next week. Because of his new role as interim provost, Dr. Deek has separated himself from the chairmanship of these search committees.

I am pleased to report that Urs Gauchat, Dean of the College of Architecture and Design, has been appointed to chair the effort to search for highly qualified candidates to fill the role of Dean of the Newark College of Engineering; and I am likewise pleased to report that Nirwan Ansari, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been appointed to fill the role of chair of the search committee to identify  highly qualified candidates to fill the position of NJIT’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs .

As NJIT takes its place as one of the nation’s most accomplished institutes of science and technology, I also want to provide an update on the status of the Capacity Study, which I had indicated previously was initiated to plan for key elements of the university through 2015, the end of our current strategic plan, and beyond.  The study is designed to inform decision making and planning in three areas: enrollment planning led by Vice President Fey, academic planning now led by Interim Provost Fadi Deek and the academic deans, and facilities planning led by Vice President Mauermeyer. I am pleased to report to you that draft capacity plans have been completed and will be shared with the Board of Trustees at its meeting on February 7th as well as with the university’s Administrative Affairs Committee and Committee on Academic Affairs as well as the Faculty Council. In addition, the three components of the capacity plan will further be informed and complemented by an updated and enhanced technology plan.

I would also like members of the NJIT community to know that the university will make a vigorous effort to take advantage of a newly issued State RFP that offers the opportunity to gain access, on a competitive basis, to substantial funding for higher education capital construction and technology projects. By way of background, Governor Christie established the NJ Higher Education Task Force in May, 2010, which declared that, among other important steps, New Jersey must recommit itself to sustaining its colleges and universities and help those institutions achieve greater success through capital investment. On August 7, 2012, the Governor signed into law the “Building Our Future Bond Act,” the first such bonds dedicated to capital improvement projects for higher education since 1988. In November 2012, New Jersey voters approved overwhelmingly a $750 million public referendum, which authorized the State to issue and direct bond proceeds for capital improvements to the State’s various higher education sectors. In addition the Governor authorized the Secretary of Higher Education to promulgate rules and approve grants to make use of four other State-supported revolving bond programs, resulting in a commitment to capital investment in higher education totaling $1.3 billion.

Finally, I want to bring you up to date on developments involving the revitalization of one of NJIT’s long standing partnerships with neighboring institutions, including Rutgers University, Essex County College, the University of Medicine and Dentistry, and the City of Newark. Now known as the University Heights Science and Technology Park, this organization has a reenergized Board of Trustees (chaired by the president of NJIT) and has committed itself to developing an unprecedented level of collaboration that will foster the creation of an educational, research, and economic development ecosystem in the City of Newark.  The planning and level of cooperation has been intense, and has benefitted by the recently announced commitment of Biotrials, a major French pharmaceutical research and life sciences firm, to establish its North American facility in the Science and Technology Park. In addition, the Park’s Board of Trustees has agreed to seek funding support for the newly proposed Applied Education and Research Institute (AERI), which would serve as the cornerstone for the envisioned research and economic development ecosystem.   I intend to keep the NJIT community informed as future developments on this project take place.

I look forward to your input and comments on this information. Thank you.