Campus Update-03-02-17

The Spring semester always offers an abundance of opportunities for engagement beyond the classroom or lab. We host cultural events celebrating Black History Month and Women’s History Month, incredible performances like the Avenue Q production by the NJIT/Rutgers Theatre Program, the Faculty Jazz Concert, and the String and Wind Concert. Our Global Game Jam and Spring Career Fair took place recently. Alternative Spring Break is rapidly approaching, and we have a loaded schedule of varsity athletics competition leading right through the end of the semester. I encourage you to get involved in these campus life events as often as possible.

In addition to making you aware of these opportunities on campus, I want to share some important information regarding developments that will affect NJIT’s academic and campus life future.

First, I would like to draw the attention of the campus community to significant investments we have made and will be making to bolster NJIT’s academic facilities. During Fiscal Years 2012 through 2016, NJIT invested more in academic facilities ($97,222,799) than in any other construction category. We invested an additional $39,962,752 in academic support infrastructure during that same time period. We have made and will continue to make significant improvements to facilities that enhance broader campus life, such as our new parking deck and the forthcoming Wellness and Events Center, which also will support our academic enterprise. The academic core of this university, however, is where the lion’s share of our resources will be expended. Some recent highlights have included NJIT Makerspace, numerous improvements to our lab spaces, and, most recently, the opening of a renovated Central King Building. We will be sending an invitation to the April 13th ribbon cutting for that historic building in the near future. Later this semester, the Life Sciences and Engineering Building will be complete. These developments are critical to our future, and more work needs to be done, including improvements to lecture halls, further lab renovations, and procurement of related equipment.

As one of only 32 polytechnic universities in the United States, NJIT occupies an enviable space and offers its students access to extraordinary career opportunities. Maintaining that position, however, requires commitment. A recent study of the University of Florida system examined the cost of education for a broad array of academic majors and, to no one’s surprise, determined that educating engineers is far and away the most expensive endeavor for colleges and universities. Students in the physical sciences and health sciences followed, in terms of cost of education. The same study demonstrated that the return on investment for students as measured by earnings is greatest in engineering, computer science, business, and health sciences. So, given our institutional mission and our place as a leading STEM university, the commitments we have made to improve our academic facilities will serve the NJIT community well into the future.

The second important update I would like to share relates to some administrative reorganizations that we are working through and plan to have completed by this Summer, if not earlier. It is with great appreciation for their service to NJIT that I announce the pending retirements of Senior Vice President Charles Dees and Vice President Charlie Fey. Both will be completing their tenures at NJIT after the conclusion of the academic year. Dr. Fey has accomplished many things at NJIT, but I believe his signature achievement has been driving a vast improvement of our student advising services over the years. The results of this have been most visible in our university’s rising retention and graduation rates. Dr. Dees has made an indelible imprint on NJIT. Before his arrival, our fundraising operation had never run a campaign of significant size but has since raised hundreds of millions of dollars to support scholarships, professorships, research, and academic facilities, among other beneficiaries. He has been a tireless fundraiser. We have travelled a couple hundred thousand miles and met a couple thousand alumni and donors together. Dr. Dees also played a critical role in upgrading the university’s marketing, alumni affairs, and major events operations. NJIT is indebted to Dr. Dees and Dr. Fey, and I am deeply appreciative of their many contributions to our university.

While these leaders will be missed and always will have my sincere appreciation, our challenge is to evolve NJIT’s administrative structure in ways that will enable us to best serve our students. After much consideration, analysis, and discussion, we have developed a framework for reorganization that will be shared in greater detail as we move toward implementation. The first steps include launching a search for a vice president for development and alumni affairs; the creation of an Office of Strategic Initiatives that will connect the university’s communications, major events, and conference and meeting services functions; and the realignment of several units currently reporting through Vice President Fey under the direction of Provost and Senior Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Fadi Deek. Please join me in thanking Drs. Dees and Fey for all they have contributed to NJIT.

Joel S. Bloom