John Pelesko, a New Jersey Institute of Technology alumnus who earned a Ph.D. in mathematical sciences from the university, has been selected as the school’s next provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, it announced Monday.
Pelesko, currently the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware, will begin in the role Aug. 1.
In his new role, Pelesko will be tasked with enhancing NJIT’s educational programs and growing its research portfolio through federal, state and industry partnerships. More broadly, he’ll work closely with NJIT President Teik Lim and the board of trustees to identify, communicate and achieve NJIT’s academic priorities.
Lim welcomed Pelesko back to campus.
“John’s extensive experience as an educator and administrator, as well as his familiarity with and passion for NJIT’s mission, will enable him to provide the academic leadership that we need to fulfill our commitment to excellence and global impact through education, research, economic development and engagement,” he said. “He knows, firsthand, what makes NJIT tick and offers compelling ideas for how we can evolve to become a preeminent polytechnic university.”
Pelesko brings rich experience to the role, having served as a professor, department chair, associate dean, interim dean and dean at Delaware, where he has worked since 2002.
In four years as dean, he led UD’s largest and most diverse college, with 8,000 students, 600 faculty members, 24 academic departments and an annual budget of about $150 million. During that period, the college developed an Early College Credit Program; established new alumni and peer-to-peer mentoring programs; launched a Student Success Center that provides professional advising and cocurricular coaching for all undergraduate students; recruited more than 150 full-time faculty members; and developed new and innovative academic programs that led to new revenue and resource opportunities and enabled Delaware to invest in faculty and build an environment that encourages increased research grant activity.
During his tenure, his sponsored expenditures in the College of Arts and Sciences have grown by more than 31%.
Pelesko said he is thrilled to return.
“NJIT embodies the attributes that I value in an institution: a deep commitment to access and student success, a world-class research enterprise, an innovative, entrepreneurial and inclusive culture and an ambition to extend its impact in the world,” he said. “I’m grateful for this opportunity, as I have personally experienced the transformative power of an NJIT education.”
One of only 35 polytechnic universities in the country, New Jersey Institute of Technology is an R1 (most elite) Carnegie Classification research university that offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degrees and spurs economic growth while preparing students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century.
NJIT, which aims to be a catalyst for applied research and innovation that improves lives and fosters economic growth, was ranked No. 14 in the nation on Money’s Best Colleges list and is among the Top 100 colleges and universities nationally for the mid-career earnings of its graduates, according to PayScale.com.
Board of trustees and Provost Search Committee member Elisa Charters said Pelesko stood out from a strong list of candidates.
“This was an impressively collaborative process, and it was clear that Dr. Pelesko differentiated himself with specific strengths that directly align with NJIT’s mission, vision and goals of shared governance, faculty and student engagement, financial management, advancing research as an R1 institution across all disciplines and driving student success and career placement,” she said. “He also demonstrated a determination to ensure the highest levels of inclusion and belonging, which is of critical importance to all of our stakeholders.”
Before working at Delaware, Pelesko taught mathematics at Georgia Tech and computing and mathematical sciences at Cal Tech. He said his studies at NJIT opened the door to such opportunities. During the search process, Pelesko noted that NJIT’s offer of scholarship support and a teaching assistant job represented an “extraordinary, life-changing” moment for the New Jersey native who came from a family with limited financial means.
Robert Cohen, the chair of the NJIT board of trustees, said Pelesko is a proven leader who appreciates NJIT’s amazing academic and research capabilities.
“NJIT’s continued high quality of our education and the tremendous positive impact of our research are part of who we are, and we can’t simply stand still,” Cohen said. “We always need to be looking at future potential. John understands this well.”
As provost, Pelesko will succeed interim Provost Atam Dhawan, who assumed the role after Provost Fadi Deek returned to the faculty as distinguished professor of informatics and mathematical sciences in July 2022 after nine years as provost.