Montclair State launches Presidential Scholars Program

Montclair State University is introducing a new scholarship program for freshmen, awarding $5,000 and career preparation guidance.

The applicants for the new program have to be New Jersey residents, maintain a 3.5 GPA on an unweighted 4.0 scale in high school, be first-time freshmen and study at MSU to qualify — and, if selected, they will receive $5,000 for each of their four years at the university.

“Our new Presidential Scholars Program invests in the intellectual growth and success of New Jersey’s youth, effectively building a ‘stronger state of mind’ in the Garden State,” said university President Susan Cole. “By making our outstanding education accessible to the state’s most valuable resource — talented, motivated students — this dynamic new program allows the university to make a positive contribution to the state’s economic and social development.”

The university anticipates the candidates will be highly diverse and ambitious students.

More than the financial support, the program also offers potential opportunities for university credit research and hands-on internships.

And, according to Jeffrey Indiveri-Gant, director of undergraduate admissions, it develops a pathway to keep a younger labor force in the state.

“This program encourages them to put a stake in New Jersey ground and establish themselves as the next generation of leaders and professionals,” he said.

At a recent American Association of State Colleges and Universities conference, Cole delivered a speech highlighting her own inspiration to be involved in education.

“I was taught by my immigrant parents that work in the world was the very essence of life. Not to be able to work was the worst thing that could happen to a person, a circumstance from which all bad things ensued — homelessness, hunger, ill health, bondage, despair,” she said. “And, I was taught, education is the pathway to that good fortune. And, I was taught, education is necessary to freedom.”

Often, universities focus externally on gaining resources and helping key demographics on the path to success, but Cole said, in her speech, the onus should be on the institutions.

“If we are successful, the people have understanding, information and tools that otherwise they might not have had; if we are successful, we enable the success of our students. If we are not successful, it is not us, but they who will fail to achieve. That is why we must succeed; why we must solve the problem of affordability; why we must solve the problems around retention and completion rates; why we must assure the quality of the faculty and the rigor of the curriculum; why we must be rigorous and intentional in the use of every scarce nickel and dime that we have,” Cole said. “We cannot, for example, explain away an unacceptable graduation rate by citing demographics or lack of resources. If we admit students, we must provide them with what they need to succeed.”