ROI Influencers: Higher Education 2021 — College presidents

Head of the class

Chris Eisgruber
Princeton University
The No. 1 school in the U.S. News & World Report national ranking — now a decadelong streak — certainly is impressive, but Eisgruber is honored here for his exemplary leadership. He guided the school through the pandemic (few had better plans for housing, testing) while thoughtfully addressing issues of racial justice and equality with honesty and reflection. (School, thanks to a donation, will open a center to address opportunity and access.) Princeton also announced it will become branch of prestigious Ludwig Institute, which studies cancer.

Nariman Farvardin
Stevens Institute of Technology
Farvardin said the new dorm towers set to open next spring (each is approximately 20 stories) have been a “symbol of progress, hope and happiness” during difficult times. They are just the latest examples of the transformation of what already is a Top 100 university. Stevens is opening a cooperative research center devoted to financial technology, has introduced a five-year bachelor’s/master’s program with Seton Hall University, and is part of a group rethinking how more tech can be added to business school curriculums.

Sue Henderson
New Jersey City University
Few institutions better represent the community where they are from. NJCU embraces the diversity of nationalities and ethnicities that is Jersey City — and allows it to guide its mission of educating the next-generation workforce the state needs. The Guarini Institute for International Studies is just the latest example of how NJCU takes a global view. All this at a time when it is developing its West Campus (University Place) with a new arts center and is preparing to open a satellite campus in Fort Monmouth.

Jonathan Holloway
Rutgers University
Anyone who has met Holloway has been impressed by him. It’s a reason he is a go-to source for Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration and business leaders across the state. And there’s still a huge upside. His tenure as president coincided with the start of the pandemic, limiting his ability to get to campus, while keeping students home as well. As students return this fall, Holloway’s leadership and impact will get greater visibility.

Ali Houshmand
Rowan University
The school has long been touted here for its business acumen and incredible academic growth. It has fully established itself as the anchor research institution for higher education in southern New Jersey — one with facilities and programs (engineering, medical) that are among the state’s best. Houshmand gets honored here for the school’s handling of the pandemic, both with its on-campus plans (that were a model for others) and its vaccination plans for special communities (first responders, homeless, K-12 educators) that also became a model for others.

Harvey Kesselman
Stockton University
Kesselman earned applause from colleagues up and down the state — he was noted as much as anyone. He deserves credit for the school’s expansion into Atlantic City, where it has built and is building new dorms and classrooms. The school has exciting programs — it is revamping its business school, will be a leader in esports and continues its status as a force in hospitality. More than that, Kesselman is credited for helping Stockton regain its financial footing after some past missteps.

Joseph Nyre
Seton Hall University
The school has been incredibly forward-thinking under Nyre’s leadership — including a COVID-contention plan that became a model for many. The school has introduced a number of new programs, including a Center for Securities Trading and Business Analytics and a five-year bachelor’s/master’s program with Stevens. The school also has major campus renovations coming — as well as thoughts of expanding its brand nationwide.

Read the rest of our list: