Next step of remarkable journey: Lim formally installed as president of NJIT

As Teik Lim addressed the crowd Friday at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Wellness and Event Center after being formally installed as the school’s ninth president, he humbly attempted to sum up his remarkable personal journey:

  • Arriving to the U.S. in 1983 as a teenager;
  • Becoming the first in his family to attend college;
  • Earning multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering;
  • Rising through the ranks of higher education leadership before becoming president of NJIT last summer.

“No one among us accomplishes our goals without the help of others,” he said.

It was a tone of graciousness that marked the momentous day.

The event, which drew students, alumni, faculty, staff, elected officials, family and friends, was about the future of the school — the next step in the journeys of Lim and NJIT.

Marybeth Boger, NJIT’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who led the event, put the day in perspective.

“The inauguration of a new president is a milestone occasion in the life of any institution of higher education — and NJIT is certainly no exception,” she said. “Today’s ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate our university’s history and heritage, to reaffirm the uniqueness of our mission and to highlight our new president’s vision and priorities for NJIT’s future.”

NJIT students said they are confident that the future is bright because of Lim’s story.

Zoe Coughlan, a junior from Great Mills, Maryland, studying computer science and information technology, came to NJIT to join the Albert Dorman Honors College.

She said Lim’s background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — he holds multiple patents as an engineer — means a lot. Lim will also serve as a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering.

“It’s nice, as someone studying something very STEM, to have a president who will understand,” she said. “He does have grounding in STEM, so having a lot more support toward that, I think would be really great.”

Lim is also NJIT’s first president of color, which meant a lot to Webster Genus, a senior from East Orange, majoring in mechanical engineering technology.

“It’s showing inclusion, which is always a plus,” he said. “It gives hope for a lot of people that you could be basically anything you want to be.”

Lim is more than an academic. His career journey has spanned the private sector, as an engineer at Structural Dynamics Research Corp., to academia, starting out as a research assistant at the Ohio State University.

Lim ascended, and most recently led the University of Texas at Arlington as interim president after serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs at UTA, just prior to joining NJIT.

James Spaniolo, president emeritus of UTA, said Lim showed his talents in the toughest of times — during the pandemic.

“In March of 2020, he was appointed interim president of UTA. Suddenly, he was the man in the arena, confronted by a pandemic, and so much more,” he said. “For two years, he was the calm in the storm, a reassuring leader who kept the university moving forward.

“And throughout those challenging days, Teik and his wife, Gina, brought energy, optimism and goodwill to the campus community and the surrounding city and region.”

New Jersey Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), who earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from NJIT, said the skills Lim showed then — and throughout his life — assure him that the school is on the right path.

“Today, Dr. Lim begins his journey with NJIT,” he said. “His journey starts with his own accomplished professional and academic career. His journey also starts on a rock-solid foundation built by thousands of past and present NJIT students, faculty and administrators, including our retiring president, Dr. Joel Bloom.

“Dr. Lim will be supported in his journey as president by the greatest asset that NJIT has, its stellar reputation. NJIT’s reputation in New Jersey is second to none.”

Lim said he is eager to get going.

“Many of you know that I was drawn to NJIT by its amazing trajectory, its vibrant community of learners and scholars, and its history of delivering social and economic impact while producing alumni who are leaders in their fields,” he said.

“I am an extremely fortunate person, honored to be given the extraordinary opportunity to lead the next phase in NJIT’s impressive history. Thank you all for being my partners and I thank God for His grace and wisdom on this exciting journey.”