ROI Influencers: Higher Education — College presidents, at the head of the class

    Joel Bloom
    New Jersey Institute of Technology

    Bloom, who has been at NJIT since 1990 and its president since 2011, has helped lift NJIT to extraordinary levels. It is now recognized as a Top 100 university in the country — but doesn’t look anything like it did when Bloom started there, as the Newark campus has undergone an impressive rebuilding in recent years. Long a leader in all things STEM in the state, NJIT also can be saluted for its commitment to educating first-generation college students, especially those from underserved communities — with a noted emphasis on Newark.

    Susan Cole
    Montclair State University

    Cole deserves to be on any Hall of Fame list for higher ed in New Jersey. She is starting her 23rd year at Montclair State — an institution she has lifted to great heights during her tenure. It’s one of the fastest-growing schools in the state in terms of students, buildings and reputation. Not only has enrollment increased from 12,000 to more than 21,000 during her tenure, the school has added hundreds of top-flight faculty, programs and centers of research. Cole also has added thousands of units of campus housing in her tenure, a great add to campus life.

    Chris Eisgruber
    Princeton University

    We get it, with Princeton the No. 1-ranked school in the country for the past nine years, it’s easy to put Eisgruber among the leaders in the state. But, while we should honor Princeton’s glorious past, in this time of uncertainty and uneasiness, it’s essential that Eisgruber be cited for the present. Eisgruber handled the university’s decision to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from campus with an impressive level of transparency and self-reflection. And his thoughtfulness on how the university campus — and the nation itself — should handle the pandemic was a step above all others.

    Nariman Farvardin
    Stevens Institute of Technology

    Putting technology at the forefront of everything has long made Stevens a Top 100 university in the country — and put the university at the forefront of the quickly changing business world. Under Farvardin’s leadership, a great university took another step forward. And that was before the pandemic. Stevens figures to remain at the head of the pack: Its emphasis on all things STEM has helped Stevens be a leader in COVID-19 research and in finding solutions for how we will learn — and live — in the post-pandemic future.

    Jonathan Holloway
    Rutgers University

    Holloway, who assumed the role July 1 after years of top jobs at both Yale and Northwestern, already has made great impact at Rutgers. His leadership on issues of social justice and racial inequities were impressive and showed his credentials as a thought leader. His guidance during the pandemic — including a spot on the governor’s restart commission — has been important, too. Holloway, put in a tough spot, has stepped up from Day One, earning accolades from leaders throughout the state.

    Ali Houshmand
    Rowan University

    Houshmand has set a standard for higher education that all presidents would be wise to follow. His eagerness to view the Glassboro-based university as not only a business, but a driver of economic and social growth for the South Jersey region, is a forward-thinking model in a sector often driven by century-old beliefs. His efforts to make area community colleges partners is the way of the future in these uncertain times. And his dreams of creating stackable certificates and degrees — based on real-world experience — is one that should be implemented in the new world.