Message from the President

Dear Highlanders,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all back to campus for the 2017 spring semester, and I hope each of you enjoyed a restful and joyous holiday season. Returning to work or studies after an extended break is never very easy, but the academic year moves quickly and demands that our efforts match its pace. We don’t have the luxury of easing back into work at NJIT and, not surprisingly, there are many important initiatives on the not-too-distant horizon. Before I get to those, however, I want to report on a few things that happened after many had wrapped up the fall 2016 semester.

NJIT received several accolades during December and early January. Just this week, The New York Times reported on a study of "America's Great Working-Class Colleges," which ranked NJIT #1 in the nation for the upward economic mobility realized by its graduates. Data from the Equality of Opportunity Project showed that a higher percentage of NJIT students coming from the bottom fifth of the income distribution rise to the upper three-fifths than do similar students at any other college or university in the United States. MONEY Magazine named NJIT one of the top 10 colleges in the country for career services based upon the combination of well-staffed career centers and young alumni who go on to earn higher-than-average early salaries. released “11 Public Colleges Where Grads Make Six Figures” within 15 years of graduation without having to attend graduate school, which included NJIT. U.S. News & World Report ranked our graduate computer information technology programs 38th nationally among the “Best Online Programs” offered by universities.  There were noteworthy individual accomplishments as well. Blake Haggerty, executive director for digital learning and technology support at NJIT, received the inaugural George Laskaris Leadership Award, presented by NJEDge.Net to an early- to mid-career professional who has provided a high level of vision, leadership and service to both his or her home institution as well as NJEDge.Net. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering Kamalesh Sirkar, who is acclaimed for his innovations in industrial membrane technology, was named a 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Lastly, men’s basketball player Damon Lynn set NJIT’s career scoring record.

In December, the 2020 Vision Mid-Year Report was completed. The first year of our strategic plan organized the responsible implementation committees, built a common monitoring and reporting structure, and integrated 2020 Vision into shared governance in order to achieve continuous quality improvement across NJIT. Our second year has focused on making planned resource investments and assessing the quality of outcomes. The Key Performance Indicators(KPIs) from the first year of 2020 Vision are generally positive.  Both graduation and retention rates are improving. External funding has exceeded expectations in academic research, technology development, and fundraising. The number of undergraduate applications and the quality of the entering freshmen cohort also has risen. The area of most concern is graduate enrollment. This is critical, not just for meeting the increasing demand for our STEM workforce but also for achieving revenue targets planned for multi-year budgets. We will continue to assess strategies and tactics as implementation of 2020 Vision proceeds. Provost Fadi Deek and I will report on progress at regular intervals.

There are many important faculty searches taking place at present, and we have new leadership in two colleges. Craig Gotsman has joined NJIT as dean of the Ying Wu College of Computing, and Anthony Schuman has agreed to serve as interim dean of the College of Architecture and Design.

Additionally, there are many facility developments occurring now or in the coming months. We have opened the balance of the magnificently renovated Central King Building (CKB) this week and will continue that process in the weeks ahead. The new spaces in CKB will be home to the writing center, the math emporium, and student interaction areas. The former gymnasium was converted into a new home for New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII) i-Labs, with an expansive glass façade turning the campus outward toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and highlighting NJIT’s partnership with business and industry. The new Life Science and Engineering Building has seen significant progress over the past weeks and months, and we expect completion in March 2017. Construction on the Wellness and Events Center (WEC) remains on schedule for a September 2017 opening. The next goal is to complete the exterior building skin of the WEC, and we expect installation of the north glass facade to begin shortly.

Beyond facilities development, there are several important events taking place on campus this spring. NJIT will host the Panasonic Creative Design Challenge again, an NJII big data conference, and the Northeast Bioengineering Conference. Additionally, we are readying for Commencement and to deliver our very important “pipeline” pre-college summer programs, including Early College Preparatory Programs, a Scholastic Aptitude Test Preparation Program, Gaining Early Awareness Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), Upward Bound English Language Learners (UBELL). GEAR UP is seeking tutors and mentors (paid and volunteers) to deploy in Newark Public Schools, so please consider participating. As I noted in an editorial recently published by the Star-Ledger, the partnership between institutions like NJIT and pre-K through 12 school systems for growing the STEM pipeline is critical.

There clearly is much to do, and the spring semester will be gone much more quickly than it may seem at the moment. Make the most of these early days and position yourself for the success you want to achieve as the academic year draws to a close. I wish you all a productive and rewarding semester, and I thank you for your dedication and commitment to NJIT.

Joel S. Bloom, President